What happens when a suave, handsome chef meets a cute, sassy food critic?
When Shelbi Arrington accepts a position as a food critic in the hopes of burying her medical career and foregoing her residency, the last thing she’s searching for is love. However, that’s just what the doctor ordered especially when she lays eyes on the handsome chef, Justin Richardson. While sorting out her secret conflict of continuing her medical career, she falls for his mouth-watering charm, leaving her hungry for anything he has to offer.
Justin is leery of doctors because a doctor’s negligence caused his mother’s death when he was twelve. He has put his focus and energy into his restaurant, which had been a dream he and his mother shared. Justin is immediately smitten by the cute, sassy food critic that has him cooking up different ways to please her appetite. But when things start to heat up, Shelbi learns of a shocking revelation that could extinguish the flame of their relationship. Will Justin be able to forget his pain and commit to the woman who has stolen his heart?
A little background information for this excerpt: Food critic, Shelbi Arrington, has already dined at Lillian’s Dinner and Blues Club. However, the executive chef/owner was on vacation at the time. She’s now returning to interview him for an article for The Memphis Tribune.
Shelbi entered the kitchen and was engulfed by the delectable aromas. B.B. King and Lucille roared through the speakers of the iPod dock on the shelf above the stove. She recognized the song from her dad’s B.B. King record collection, “Caught a Touch of Your Love.” The chef, whose back was to her, sung off-key, but it still made her smile. She didn’t want to disturb him, especially when he turned the music up and sang into the spoon. She placed a hand over her mouth to muffle a giggle.
His crisp jeans showcased his thighs and butt, relishing the fact he was quite muscular and probably athletic. His broad shoulders filled out the white chef jacket he wore. The chef’s hat was tilted to the side and waved back and forth as he danced. He gyrated his hips to the song as he stirred something in the pot. As much as she enjoyed his performance, she interrupted him.
She cleared her throat and tried to hide another giggle.
“Excuse me, but are you Jay?”
The chef turned off the king of blues, took off his hat, and twisted his muscular physique toward her.
“Why yes I am, Ms. Arrington.”
Shelbi’s heart raced as her breath caught in her throat. Falling back on the door to steady herself, her stomach tightened and a heat wave charged through her. The man she tossed and turned over last night stood in front of her appearing even more delicious than yesterday.
“It’s you! The man from the trolley.” She ran her fingers through her hair and hoped she didn’t look like she felt—completely flustered.
“Yep. One and the same,” he said, flashing a million-dollar smile. “Come sample this caramel sauce and tell me if it needs anything else.” He held out the spoon for her. “I’m experimenting with you today.” His lowered voice held a hint of seduction.
I wouldn’t mind him experimenting with me, but not in the kitchen. Well, maybe we could start in the kitchen and end up somewhere else…
A sensuous shiver raced through her. She tried to remain composed, but how could she when this fine masculine man stood before her with a sexy smile, succulent lips, firm chest and wild, crazy hair she just wanted to grab a hold to while he drove her up a wall. Literally.
Shelbi placed her belongings on one of the stainless steel prep counters and walked toward him, trying to shake herself from her fantasy, but her imagination was running rampant. She blew on the hot caramel before placing her lips on the spoon, and he slowly inched the tip of it into her mouth as his eyes held hers in an intense stare. She closed her eyes and moaned as the sweet caramel with a hint of cinnamon traveled down her throat. Her tongue licked over her lips.
“Justin, this is superb. What dessert are you making this for?”
“Haven’t decided yet, but it reminds me of you. Sweet, hot caramel with a touch of cinnamon, like your eyes.”
Blood rushed to her face, and she hid her expression by leaning over the stove to open the stockpot on the back burner. A New Orleans low-boil consisting of crabs, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, onions, and corn on the cob smelled heavenly.
“This looks and smells divine.”
“So do you,” he answered in a seductive tone before turning off all the burners on the stove and stepped toward her. He was close enough to kiss her, and she almost wished he would. After last night’s tossing and turning, she needed him to just hurry up and satisfy her longing. She stepped closer, and the enticing scent of his cologne mixed with his manly scent, filled her senses. She inhaled to take it in even more.
“Is the low-boil for me?”
“Yes. Hopefully, it will make up for my store-bought barbecue sauce you didn’t enjoy when you dined here the other evening,” he responded sarcastically.
A heat wave of fury washed over her skin, and Shelbi became annoyed at the handsome chef.
“I know you aren’t flirting with me just to receive an excellent review because we can end this meeting now!” she snapped. She turned to gather her belongings.
“Look, lady, I don’t need some young contributing food critic telling me my homemade barbecue sauce taste like it came from the grocery store. If you thought that, then maybe I should bottle it!”
His comment forced more anger from her, and she turned toward him as she waved her finger in the air and rested her other hand on her hip.
“Well, then maybe you should bottle it along with your attitude.” She stepped into his personal space, refusing to back down, the anger seething through her body. “First of all, I like your restaurant. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have requested to meet the executive chef and owner. If I’d known he would be an arrogant, pompous jerk like you, I wouldn’t have wasted my time!”
Shelbi stared him down like a bull ready to send the matador flying across the ring with a swift blow to his butt. She hated being unprofessional; however, this man caused her to lose her cool. Heat rushed through her body, and apparently his as well, because she could feel the warmth radiating from him onto her skin. The room was silent except for their hearts beating fast and loud in sync.
He stepped closer to her. Too close. Little beads of perspiration had formed on his face, drawing his manly, intoxicating scent out even more. His muscular chest rose up and down, and his dark, smoky eyes penetrated her, causing her breathing to stagger. His bold gaze held her entranced, and she couldn’t unlock it, no matter how hard she tried.
Cooking Up Love is the first book in the Arrington Family Series.
Dr. Bria Arrington has had her heart broken by one bad boy playboy and doesn’t want to travel down that road again. However, she finds herself attracted to her best friend, self-proclaimed bachelor, Rasheed Vincent. After a passionate kiss leaves them desiring more, seducing each other is the only cure.
A retired basketball player, Rasheed is a player on and off the court. When a woman gets too close, he bounces to the next one. But the condition he’s in makes him want a permanent dose of Bria’s love, and he’s ready for the shot. She knows falling in love with Rasheed is a prescription for trouble, yet she is willing to risk it. But can she trust him with her heart?
“Yes!” Bria jumped up and down followed by the Reebok dance from the 1990s. “Another strike. I’m the bomb. And you said I would only hit a few pins.” Bria glanced up at the computer screen above their lane as her name flashed like a lightning bolt for her second strike.
“Yes, another strike for someone who can’t bowl, pushes the ball down the lane, and then talks to it.” Rasheed said through gritted teeth as he picked up his own personal black bowling ball, got into position, and glanced back at Bria.
“Yet for some reason, you can’t even make one strike tonight, and you usually can do at least six in a row.” She shrugged and gave him a wink.
He chuckled. “Watch your boy in action.” He rolled the ball which hit only half of the pins.
Bria laughed. “You were saying, Mr. Vincent?”
She had been trying to remain composed the entire evening. Rasheed looked particularly fine in a pair of jeans, a red sweater, and a black newsboy cap—which added to his already sexy persona. She couldn’t jerk her eyes away from how his butt fit in the jeans, enhancing his muscles. She imagined clenching her fingers on his bare bottom as he thrust in and out her as she pulled him deeper into her. The image she’d conjured up was making her want to forget their truce and satisfy her longing for him.
“You’re a distraction, Bree,” he said through clinched teeth as he waited for his ball to return.
No, you’re the distraction. She twitched her mouth to the side and approached him. “How am I a distraction?”
“You can’t possibly expect me to concentrate when your hair is curly and bouncy down your back and you’re wearing a sexy little black sweater dress with thigh high boots—well bowling shoes at the moment—but you’re still sexy. If you’re going to hang with me, you need to not look so hot.” He grabbed his ball and bowled a spare.
Bria sat back on the bench even though it was her turn.
He joined her a few feet down and stretched one arm across the back of the bench, his hand almost reached her shoulder. He shook his glass of rum and Coke. “I do believe it’s your turn, or are you ready to throw in the towel?”
Throw in the towel? Bria was ready to throw in the towel but not for bowling. She was ready to throw off her sweater dress and beg Rasheed to do her and do her good. Who was she kidding? How did she possibly think she could just forget about his lips caressing hers, his hands on her bottom, or the deep groans that ignited from his throat, all of which sent a tidal wave of fire through her at the mere thought?
To avoid being next to him, she went ahead and bowled. She bent over, set the ball on the line and pushed it down the lane. It slowly rolled while she yelled “go, go.” The ball hit all but two pins. She rejoined Rasheed on the bench while she waited for her ball to return.
“Damn, girl,” he chuckled. “You keep bending over like that, and I’m going to forget the deal we made the other night and seduce you right here in this bowling alley.”
A heat wave washed over her at his words. She’d had another sleepless night last night pretending her hands were his massaging her breasts and in between her thighs. She shuddered and squirmed in her seat at the possibility of that becoming a reality but with more than just his hand between her thighs.
Rasheed was jokester, but when she looked at him, she couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. Even though he was laughing, his expression and tone had been serious. She decided to find out.
“Boy, stop playing. However, I was just talking to Taylor the other day about having a sex buddy.”
“A sex buddy?” He scooted closer to her on the bench and relaxed his arm behind her. “I’m intrigued. Explain more, please.” A wicked grin crossed his handsome face and the beats of her heart sped up.
“It’s really just a joke between Taylor and me but …” she looked away from him to hide her embarrassment.
“Um … as in you and Taylor being sex buddies.” He downed the rest of his drink and set the empty glass on the other side of him on the bench. “Okay, now I’m really intrigued. Please continue.”
She playfully punched Rasheed in the arm. “Get your mind out of the gutter. No, not me and Taylor. Me and a guy.”
He looked stunned for a moment. He cleared his throat and a serious expression formed on his face.
“Wait, you’re serious, Bree?”
“Sure, why not? I wouldn’t mind having someone I can have sex with but no strings attached. Just sex. That’s it. No emotions. No relationship. Kind of like how you’ve been doing but only with one person, not a Mac truck load.”
His stare was intense and his pupils turned darker than she had ever seen them. “I’m available, Bree,” he said in a sexy tone. He moved closer with his lips less than an inch from hers, sending tingles through her body. “You already know what it’s like to kiss me. Imagine if you had a chance to experience more than that.”
Copyrighted August 2012 by Candace Shaw
Cannon Arrington has pushed aside a social life to dedicate his time to medical school, extracurricular activities, and helping others … that is, until he lays his eyes on the angelic face of Yasmine Dubose. For Cannon, meeting her was a breath of fresh air. Something about the bubbly, sexy teacher makes him realize he needs to stop and smell the roses.
Yasmine has had a crush on Cannon since high school, but he’d never noticed the nerdy freshman. Now she’s blossomed into a woman who’s full of life. She knows Cannon’s drive for success is important to him, but she fears he’ll become even more of a workaholic than her father, who died when she was a child.
Will Cannon settle down and learn how to balance his career and love life, or will he lose the simply amazing woman who has stolen his heart?
Cannon sat across from Yasmine at her kitchen table while she graded papers. They’d been dating for over a month now, and he’d never felt so relaxed with a woman in such a short time frame. She’d made him take breaks and just have fun. He’d lived in Nashville for almost two years and had never ventured out much as far as site seeing because he was there for medical school. Thanks to her spontaneous nature, they’d been to the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, the Nashville Zoo, and the Opryland Museum. She’d suggested a country music concert just for the fun of it, but instead they went to a traveling carnival where he felt like a kid again eating corn dogs and funnel cakes as well as riding roller coasters and Ferris wheels.
He was supposed to be studying for an upcoming test on Monday about anatomy, but he was more concerned about her anatomy. His eyes kept straying to her face, and inhaling her perfume that smelled like a mixture of apples and pears. When she’d returned downstairs from her shower earlier, he’d been mesmerized by her mint-green nightgown, which was why he could no longer concentrate. It wasn’t sexy lingerie, but it was hot on her with spaghetti straps that kept falling off of her soft shoulders and little pink ribbons around the hem that stopped mid thigh. Before she sat back down, she’d dropped her red pen and bent over to pick it up, exposing pink boy shorts that fit her cute butt like a glove and toned thighs he needed to get in between.
“Shouldn’t you be studying?” Yasmine asked with her reading glasses pulled down on her nose.
“I am. I could study you all day and all night and never get tired.”
“I can believe that since you never sleep.” She closed her folder of graded papers and took off her glasses.
“I know. I guess when I start my residency in a few years, I’ll be able to stay up all night. Maybe even pull a double.”
She smiled and said softly, “I’m glad you’re here.” She rose from the table. “I’m still trying to get used to this townhouse. Do you want some more coffee?”
He wanted something all right, and it damn sure wasn’t coffee. He wanted her on the kitchen table, on the island, against the wall, on the chair. Wherever she would let him have her so he could hear her soft moans when he was slow and gentle and her passionate screams when he was fast and rough.
No, I can’t. Not yet. Too soon. Right? Everything with her felt right and grounded, but he didn’t want to rush things.
Before he could consult his conscience any further, she placed her gaze on him and gave him a smile so amazing that any other questions he may have had for himself were thrown out the window. He needed her with a hunger so fierce it shook him.
Driven on a steadfast urge, he went to her and crushed her to him so fast, she let out a startled moan that he quickly muffled with his lips.
He kissed her hard, taunting her lips with his; her mouth succulent and soft. He was in control of their kiss, overpowering her warm, willing mouth as she sighed against his lips and reached for his head to pull him further into her. The moment their lips touched, all the reasons why he shouldn’t proceed escaped him. Instead, all of the explanations why he should make love to her overtook him and blazed within him so deep, it created a surge that rippled through his being and into her.
She responded to his kiss as if she’d been waiting for this moment to happen as well. He loved how perfect she felt in his embrace, her soft hands caressing his face and neck. He deepened the kiss even more, and she shuddered, letting out a muffled moan while her mouth vibrated against his. Heat flared in his gut, and he let out a profound groan while an intense flood of aching desire completely consumed him.
Yasmine Dubose never stopped loving Cannon. Instead, she learned to live without him, guarding her heart in the process. However, when they are brought together to plan a wedding for their best friends, Yasmine is faced with the challenge of following her heart this time around or risk losing the only man she’s ever loved.
Note to reader: Only One for Me is the third book in the Arrington Family Series. If you have not read the free, short prequel Simply Amazing (Cannon’s and Yasmine’s back story) it is in the back of this book after the About the Author page if you would prefer to read it first. It takes place fourteen years before the book.
Yasmine walked into Ollie’s Sweets at exactly two o’clock to find Cannon already there chatting with Ollie Moss, the owner and head baker. Sherika and Yasmine used to frequent the downtown Memphis bakery as teenagers, and she wasn’t surprised to learn that the bride-to-be had selected their favorite bakery to make the wedding cakes.
“Hi, Ms. Ollie.”
“Look at my Yaz all grown up.” The ladies hugged and Yasmine inhaled Ms. Ollie’s fragrance. She always smelled like vanilla and buttercream icing. Stepping back, she got a good look at Ms. Ollie. She still had the same sweet smile and grandmother nature that always made customers feel at home in her bakery.
“Hello, Yasmine,” Cannon’s deep voice stated behind her.
She turned and nodded to acknowledge his presence. Staring up at him, she tried to stifle a gulp or two as her heartbeat sped up. He was dressed casually in khakis and a light blue sweater that fit his sexy physique. Cannon had never been overly muscular, but he’d always been in shape, and the way his sweater fit over his arms and abs suggested he still worked out. His fresh scent loomed into her personal space, outweighing the aroma of all the cakes and pastries in the bakery. She wasn’t sure how long she could do this, but she’d made a promise to her best friend.
“Well, let’s get started,” Ms. Ollie stated. “Follow me. I have everything set up in the tasting room.”
Yasmine flinched as Cannon placed his warm hand at the small of her back, causing a flow of burning desire to rush through her veins. She cleared her throat and walked faster to escape his touch searing her skin. As his hand fell, it brushed against her butt, and she gave him a glare. He mouthed “sorry” and placed his hands mischievously in his pocket. She knew it was probably an accident but wasn’t sure how sorry he was about doing it. He’d always known just the right way to caress and kiss her body, and no other man had turned her on as much as he had.
When they entered the tasting room, there was a long table laden with dessert plates of miniature cupcakes. On small pink cards, the flavor of the cupcake was written in calligraphy. Yasmine snapped a few pictures with her digital camera to email to Sherika for her wedding memory book.
“There are six mini cupcakes of each cake flavor that I discussed with the bride and groom for you to sample. On the bistro table,” Ms. Ollie paused as she pointed to a small table by the window, “you’ll find a list of the flavors for you to take notes and to check off the ones you like. The bride wants three different flavors since her cake has three layers, and for the groom’s cake two different flavors of chocolate. There’s also bottled water. I suggest you take a few sips to clean your palate before trying a different flavor. If you need anything, I’ll be next door working on a cake for a wedding tomorrow, but will be in and out to check on you.”
After she left, Yasmine placed her coat and purse on a chair at the bistro table and Cannon immediately went to the cupcakes.
“Which should we try first?” he asked.
He handed her an empty dessert plate as his eyes roamed over her black cropped sweater that stopped at the belt of her dark skinny jeans, down to her black knee-high boots before rising back up to settle on her face which she knew had to be flushed because her cheeks were burning. She placed her focus on the tasty cupcakes to avoid looking in his direction.
“Can’t decide. They all look delicious, but I know Sherika loves amaretto so let’s try that one and one of the chocolates for the groom’s cake,” Yasmine answered with ease, and was surprised she wasn’t as nervous being alone with him as she thought she would be, despite the way he’d just raked his eyes over her like an x-ray.
She grabbed the two amaretto cupcakes while Cannon grabbed two German chocolates, and they settled in at the table.
“Did you eat something before coming?” he asked, taking a sip of the water.
“Not since breakfast.” She sipped her water. “What about you?”
“The same. You know I love eating anything sweet and couldn’t wait to get here.” He had a sparkle in his eye and a wicked grin crossed his face.
Yasmine blinked her eyes a few times at his comment. Cannon had a way of saying something normal, but there was always a sexual connotation behind it. She thought surely she’d heard emphasis on the word eating. Her mind transported her to a time where he’d done just that while they were at his parent’s home visiting for the weekend, and he told her not to make a sound. Starting from her forehead, he’d kissed and licked every inch of her, enticing her breasts in his warm mouth, before lingering in the sensitive area between her legs longer than the other places until he drove her crazy with an unruly, muffled orgasm. She squirmed in her chair at the memory.
“Are you ready to begin?” he asked picking up the chocolate cupcake.
She snapped out of the daydream she’d had plenty times before. “Yep.” She picked up the amaretto one. “Bon appétit.”
She bit into her cupcake while Cannon popped the entire thing into his mouth, leaving a little bit of chocolate icing on the corner of his bottom lip. Yasmine’s eyes settled on the delectable spot. She wanted nothing more than to reach across the table and lick the chocolate off of him and taste his lips that she’d missed so much.
“Mmm … that was good,” he said and proceeded to swish his tongue to the side where the icing lay. “You have to try this one.”
I wanted to, but you beat me to it.
For the next twenty minutes they sampled cupcakes and compared notes. Yasmine was trying to keep the conversation only to the task at hand, and so far it worked. She found herself a little more at ease with him. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but he’d been a gentleman, which was his nature.
“How many more do we have?” she asked, taking a sip of water as Cannon stood at the table grabbing two more cupcakes and setting them on the bistro table in front of her.
“This is the last chocolate one for the groom’s cake and there are two more to taste for the bride’s cake. Think you can hang?”
Yasmine laughed and patted her stomach. “I think so. I’m actually ready for some real food now.”
“Me too. I guess we ate dessert first.” He laughed and took a bite of the cake. “This chocolate mint flavor is good. I think we have a winner.”
She bit into hers. “You’re right. This really is good. Let’s make it the second layer for the groom’s cake,” she suggested, remembering what Sherika said about having a different flavor besides plain chocolate.
“Sounds good to me.” He checked it off on his list and pushed the plate aside, resting his arms crossed in front of him on the table and leaning toward her. “Never been much of a chocolate fan. I prefer caramel.”
Yasmine almost choked on her cupcake and lifted her head to meet his smoldering gaze. There was no laughter in his words or on his face. Instead, she noted the seriousness in his tone and the way his eyes examined her as if he was reading her mind and liked what he read.
Cannon and Yasmine both jumped at the words as Ms. Ollie entered the room. Yasmine was glad for the interruption. The way Cannon had moved toward her she thought he was going to kiss her, and considering where her thoughts had just returned, she would’ve let him.
Cannon relaxed back into his chair and patted his midsection. “Perfect,” he answered with a smile and Yasmine was glad that he had. She was still in a daze.
“Good.” Ms. Ollie glanced at the cake table. “I see you have a few more to sample. I’ll be back in about twenty minutes to go over any questions you may have and pack up the uneaten cupcakes for you.”
The smile he’d displayed for Ms. Ollie vanished when she left and was once more replaced with a serious facade. Yasmine knew all of his facial expressions, and this one was screaming she needed to move and move fast before he reached for her like he had the first time they’d made love.
“Yes, Yasmine?” His voice was deep. Provocative. Stimulating. She needed to escape, but his eyes held hers in a deep hypnotic trance that she couldn’t break.
“We need to finish the last two samples for the bridal cake,” she managed to stammer out, wanting to tear her eyes away from his but couldn’t.
“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” He leaned in closer as she scooted her chair away from the table. He raised his eyebrow. “Your expression isn’t saying that. I know you very well, or have you forgotten?”
“You don’t know me.”
“I know every single inch of you.” His baritone voice was serious and sexy.
Since the death of her husband three years ago, Dr. Raven Arrington has found herself in the same mundane routine. Needing a change of scenery, she escapes to a little town outside of Buenos Aries to temporarily work at a medical facility. Raven didn’t realize what prescription for medicine she needed until she meets Chief of Staff, Dr. Armand Phillips. With just the right dose of desire, the gray-eyed, sinfully suave doctor awakens a part of her she’d suppressed.
Armand knows having a fling with a co-worker is a prescription for trouble, but the older, sophisticated doctor is like no other woman he’s met. He’s used to no responsibilities outside of his career and loves his freedom to travel wherever needed. However, Armand is willing to sacrifice it all in order to make Raven his—despite her reservations—and to give her what she wants more than anything.
Raven opened the door, and collided into a white-coated chest. Her hands rested on pure hardness that radiated strength and power from him. Strength and power that she could only imagine handling her exactly how she wanted in the bedroom or wherever. He seemed the type of man that could get busy whenever or wherever need be, considering he’d mentioned laying her out on the desk in her office. She hadn’t been able to sleep for the past two nights with that comment lodged in her brain.
“Excuse me, Dr. Phillips.” Her hands balled into fists when she realized they were still pressed against him. She immediately jerked them away, placing them in the pockets of her white coat.
“Sorry,” he said as his eyes roamed over her before they settled on her face with a knowing gleam. “Um … I was just going into the supply room.” He took out his keys and stepped toward the door across the hall from her exam room.
“While you’re in there, can you get me a box of hand sanitizer? I’m almost out.” She turned to walk down the hall, but he gently grabbed her hand and pulled her into the room with him.
“What?” she whispered as Armand closed the door.
He grinned. “Why are you whispering? There’s no rule against us being in the supply room. You need hand sanitizer, don’t you?”
Heat rushed over her face. A part of her was glad that was the only reason he pulled her into the room, but another part of her actually thought he was going to extinguish the fire that blazed in her when she ran into him. Correction. That had blazed in her since their tryst in his apartment.
“Yes … I just …” She raked her hair behind her ears. “I just thought you could grab them for me, Dr. Phillips.” She tried to concentrate on the task of breathing, but she wasn’t having any luck.
The side of his mouth etched into a grin. “You have a patient waiting?”
He stepped closer, and she moved back with a gulp, finding herself against a shelf.
He reached his hand out, and she sucked in her breath. She thought he was about to caress her face, but instead his arm passed her and slid something down from the shelf above her. Backing out of her personal space, he handed her a box.
“Do you need more than one? There’re four containers in here.”
She glanced at the box of hand sanitizer in her hands and realized how paranoid she’d been. Apparently he was keeping his promise of not mixing business with pleasure. Deep down, she wanted to forget they’d agreed to it.
“No.” Relief swept over her, and her breathing relaxed. “This should be plenty.”
“Anything else you need while we’re here?”
Was that a trick question?
“I’ll look around,” Raven said, setting the box on a swivel chair, feeling much better and comfortable. She laughed at the thought of them actually making out in the supply room. She didn’t even know why that notion had crossed her mind in the first place. Oh wait, it was because the night in his apartment hadn’t left her mind, or that sensitive spot that made her a woman.
She took a few moments to browse the shelves and rack her brain for any other supplies her three examination rooms were almost out of. They were usually well stocked, thanks to the medical assistants, but she had a habit of overusing sanitizer. She glanced at Armand, who stood by the door, and she grabbed a box of gloves.
“Am I keeping you from something?” she asked, wondering why he was just standing there watching her and not gathering whatever it was he needed.
“Nope.” Armand shrugged nonchalantly with his hands in his pockets. “I have a conference call with the board in an hour, so I’m good. Take your time.”
She glanced around the small room again before her eyes settled back on his handsome face. “I believe I have everything I need. I’ll just leave so you can get whatever it is you want,” she said, turning toward the swivel chair to retrieve the box.
“Then you can’t leave,” he whispered.
Raven stopped in her tracks at his words. Her breathe halted in her throat, and her pulse raced as she waited with baited breath for his next move.
Armand’s hands reached under her coat and pulled her by the waist to his body. Juicy, thick lips hit the back of her neck and she exhaled a moan of relief. The warmth of his mouth on her skin sent tingles racing through her. The box of gloves dropped to her feet, and she clasped her hands in his to hold on, for she feared she’d fall over just from the passionate way his tongue ravished her neck uncontrollably.
“How did you know I wanted you to touch me? Kiss me?” Her breathing became unraveled again.
“You told me,” he answered gruffly. His hands roamed over her breasts while his mouth continued to press kisses all over her bare neck, reaching around to her collarbone.
“I never … said … a word.” She could barely stand up straight as heat ran through her body, lingering between her legs.
“Remind me to have a mirror the next time you’re in my presence. Your face told me everything I needed to know. Oh, yeah, and your breathing was somewhat staggered. Either you wanted me to touch you, or you’re having a heart attack.”
“What if someone comes in?” she whispered as his lips moved to her jawline. She turned her body to imprison his lips, winding her tongue with his in a fast rumba.
“Then we’re caught.”
Normally a statement like that would’ve had Raven pushing him away and sprinting out of the room without her supplies. However, all logic and sensibility had escaped her the moment she met him. For some reason the thought of getting caught turned her on, and she kissed him more intensely, meeting and matching his powerful kisses.
Raven was on a high she couldn’t explain. The wild and crazy kisses were foreign to her, to say the least. While she wasn’t a prudish, buttoned up, kind of a woman, she wasn’t the type to get hot and heavy in the supply closet with the chief of staff who was younger than her. However, he’d unleashed a sexual side that she never knew existed. All of her inhibitions no longer mattered, and she could just be free with her emotions and feelings. She felt empowered, and more feminine than ever.
Dr. Sean Arrington loves his family, patients, and the ladies. With no interest in settling down with one woman, he dates women—who like him—just want to have fun with no commitment and no strings attached—unless they like being tied up. Literally. However, when he lands his eyes on the cute-dimpled, quirky botanist Traci Reed, something tugs at his heart and he figures rules can be broken.
Traci has been infatuated with the rivetingly handsome bad boy since his mother showed her Sean’s picture a few years ago. When he asks her to design the gardens in his backyard, Traci can’t refuse. After they share a heated first kiss, she can’t believe Sean actually has feelings for her. She’s drawn to his smooth charisma and intellect; however, she’s cautious for she knows he prefers his bachelor lifestyle. Can Sean prove to Traci she’s his kind of girl after all?
Following the directions of his car’s navigation system, Sean made it to the Memphis Nursery on time. He shook off his tie—tossing it in the passenger seat—and unfastened the top two buttons of his dress shirt. He’d noticed the day before that Traci drove a lime green Volkswagen Bug. Odd car in his opinion, but then again it sort of went with her quirky personality. He glanced in the rearview mirror and spotted a flash of lime green pull into the lot and park next to his Porsche. She waved and fiddled around with her cell phone while he hurried out of the car and made his way to her driver’s door. After opening it, she glanced up at him with a weak smile and back to her cell phone screen which had a series of text messages he couldn’t make out. She shut it off and grabbed her purse from the passenger’s seat.
“Hi,” she said softly, placing her tennis shoe clad feet on the pavement.
Taking her hand, he helped her out and closed the car door. She was dressed casually in jeans and a yellow T-shirt that pulled against her cleavage. He was suddenly aroused, but remembered she wasn’t happy about something.
“Hey. Everything all right?”
“Yeah … just some family stuff. Ready to go flower shopping?” she asked in a more upbeat tone.
“Lead the way.”
For the next thirty minutes, they browsed a variety of flowers and plants for his tranquility hummingbird garden she was creating in the right corner of the yard. Traci informed him that a landscape company would arrive the next day to pull up the grass. The day after, another company would lay the pavers for the walking trails, along with a patio for the pergola and fire pit area.
“So if all goes well this week, I’ll be able to begin planting the hummingbird garden on Friday around two o’clock,” she said, glancing over the work order for the flowers that were scheduled for pick up on Friday.
“All these plants can’t fit in your little beetle.”
She stooped down to look at the leaves of a ground cover plant he’d noticed was also in his mother’s garden but couldn’t remember the name.
“I have a truck with a trailer. I do it all the time.” She stood and they continued walking along the trail of plants.
“Cool, and I’ll be home by that time to help you unload and plant. I only do half days on Fridays unless it’s an emergency.”
“Thank you. It shouldn’t take too long. I’m sure we’ll be done in time so you can hit the streets on Friday night.
“I don’t have any plans for this weekend.”
“Mmm … I’m sure someone will pop up.” Traci winked and sat on a bench in the middle of a slew of potted crepe myrtles.
Sitting next to her, he stretched out his long legs. “I hope not. What you saw yesterday was actually out of the norm. My pet peeve is people showing up unannounced. That’s one of the reasons I told her to leave.” And the other is since I’ve met you, I’ve only wanted you. Wait. What? Did I say that out loud? Realizing he hadn’t, he exhaled in his head.
Traci giggled. “Well, Ms. Thang was heated strutting down your sidewalk quite fiercely to her Range Rover.”
“She’ll be fine. She’s in New York and then off to Paris and Milan for the next four to six months. She’s not thinking about me nor am I thinking of her. Not that kind of relationship.”
“Of course. I’m sure you have other women to take her place while she’s gone.”
“Contrary to what you may think, I don’t have a bunch of women lined up waiting. I go through dry spells like every other single person.”
“You just prefer to stay single.”
“Yes. And you? How’s your dating life?”
She pondered for a minute. “I guess you could say a dry spell at the moment. It’s the beginning of April, and I haven’t had an actual date since January.”
“Nothing. No sparks. Nice guy, but not my type.”
Her cell phone vibrated in her purse. Letting out a frustrated sigh, she checked the caller ID and smacked her lips as she tossed the phone back into her purse as it continued to vibrate.
“Family issues again?”
She stood and motioned for him to join her as she looked at the potted crepe myrtles.
“Care to discuss? I’m a really good listener … or so I’ve been told.”
“I’m sure you are for a couple of hundred bucks or more an hour, but there’s nothing to discuss.” She turned toward him, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. “I’ll deal with it like I always do.”
“How? By working all day at the gardens even on your off days, and then moonlighting by designing gardens for residential homes?”
“If that’s what you want to believe, go ahead. Now what color trees would you like? Crepes come in purple, pink, white or red.”
“I like the deep purple ones, and if you want to avoid the question, I understand,” he said sincerely, placing his hand on her cheek. “I just hated the crumbled look on your face when you arrived and again when your phone rang. I love seeing your dimples.”
Traci trembled when he placed his hand on her face, and her chest rose and fell a few times as she breathed out. He found himself in her personal space and the urge to taste her pouty lips ran rampant through him. He’d never wanted to mix business with pleasure, but she was so close and the homemade rose oil she wore engulfed his senses. The puzzlement in her eyes as she stared up at him needed to be answered, so he had no choice but to lower his lips and pray she didn’t push him away.