Jack Taylor is rich, handsome and has been living the playboy lifestyle for what his father feels is way too long. Now that he’s taking over the family business, it’s time for him to settle down.
The problem? It’s hard to tell who wants him for him and who wants him for his wallet. Jack wants something real.
Julianna Reynolds is fresh out of college with a culinary degree and eager to build up the business she and her sister have been dreaming of since they were little. She wants a simple life, cooking good food for lots of people.
Thrown together when her sister lands an event at Taylor Orchards, she runs into Jack…literally. When he realizes that she doesn’t know who he is, pretending to be someone else is irresistible.
When Julianna discovers his deception, will she be able to forgive him for deceiving her? Or will Jack’s lies tear everything apart?
By the time we finish cleaning everything up, it's after one and I'm dead on my feet. Everyone is in a rush to get home, and I can't blame them. I want nothing more than to fall into bed and sleep for a week. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen yet...especially since I hear Andi's voice yelling my name from the other side of the event space. She runs over to me, panting slightly, her blonde hair matted around her face from all the lifting and running around. She pauses to catch her breath before she says, "Are your guys finished? I could use a little help with the heavy stuff."
A chorus of groans comes from behind us, and Andi and I both turn our attention to the three guys on my crew who were getting ready to leave. Andi turns on the charm...she smiles at them and twirls her finger around a lock of hair that's falling out of her up-do. She's very good at pretending to be a poor defenseless female; guys have been doing her bidding for more years that I can count. "Please guys," she begs, her eyes wide and beguiling. "I could use the help of some big strong men." Her voice gets husky as she says the words and all three jump to help. She winks at me before turning to lead them over to her area as I roll my eyes at her antics.
I let the girls go before grabbing the last few plates to put them in the accordion plate tote just inside the catering van. "Well Julianna, it seems we meet again." His voice startles the dishes right out of my hands, and I'm thankful they fall on the grass. We can't afford to go around replacing dishes thanks to my clumsiness. Andi would never let me forget it.
"Jesus Christ," I pant, holding a hand over my heart as I turn to face him. "You scared the shit out of me!" He doesn't apologize, but his smile widens as his eyes travel down my body. I've changed into shorts and a t-shirt since he saw me earlier; my long pants and dress shirt were way too hot in the summer heat. I loathe the way his stare makes me feel. Every spot on my body his eyes graze becomes hot and my stomach summersaults.
He steps closer, and I instinctively back up, not wanting him any closer because I'm not sure I can trust my reactions if he is. Just when I think he's going to touch me, he bends to pick up the plates still lying on the wet grass, then places them on the floor of the van. "You might want to put these away before they get broken." God, his voice is so cocky and self-assured. Combine the tone with his deep voice, and I imagine he has girls dropping their panties all over the place. I refuse to be one of those girls...I have to remind myself once again that this is not what I want. Not even a little bit. Maybe if I say that often enough, I'll start believing it.
"I..." I have to clear my throat in order to speak. "Did you want something?" He laughs, and I can feel the heat rushing up to spread across my cheeks. I did not just ask him that! "I mean, can I help you with something?" He laughs harder, his eyes dancing with his amusement, and it just makes me angrier. "For the love of all that's holy. Why are you here?" My voice has risen to almost a screech, and I want to throw my hands in the air in frustration. I don't though, because somehow, I think he wants me to lose control. He's enjoying my discomfort.
His laughter quiets as he continues to study me. "I'm sorry, Julianna." He sounds sincere, but the look on his face says otherwise. He's trying for contrite, but he's only pulling off mildly amused. When I don't accept his half-assed apology, he sighs, "I came to get your number. You forgot to give it to me earlier."
"What an ass," I mutter under my breath, and I can see him trying to stifle his smile. He barely manages to keep his expression serious and waits for me to continue. "Look, I don't know what kind of girl you're used to, but I'm not in the habit of giving my number to strange men. Especially men whose names I don't know."
Now he smiles, thinking he has me. "Oh, well that can easily be remedied." He holds out a hand, expecting me to shake it, and I do. I try to pull away quick because of the electric shock I feel when our bare hands touch. But he steps forward, pulling us closer and forcing me to look up at him. "My name's Jack, love." He lifts my hand to press a kiss to the back of it, keeping his eyes on me while he does. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
I pull my hand away as soon as he loosens his grip. "Well, Jack, I wish I could say the same." Andi's walking in this direction, and I know she's sent her assistant in the other van so we can go home. Shoving the plates behind me back in their tote, I move farther away from him, hoping Andi doesn't notice how affected I am.
Jack opens his mouth to say something, but Andi walks over, holding her hand out for the keys. "Come on, let's go. I'm tired." She barely acknowledges Jack, walking past him with a quick "hey" before hopping up in the driver's seat.
"Sorry, I've got to go." I try for apologetic, but the relief in my voice is obvious. I don't wait for him to respond. Instead, I turn my back on him and walk around to the other side of the van. Just before I shut the door, I hear him say, "This isn't over Julianna." Of course it isn't. I wouldn't expect anything less from an egomaniac. Not wanting to face an inquisition, I lay my head back on the seat and shut my eyes. If I pretend I'm so exhausted I'm falling asleep, maybe she won't ask questions.
About Stacey Mosteller
Stacey is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of Second Chances (co-authored with H.M. Ward) and the Nashville Nights series. She is also a wife, mother, writer and self-professed bookwhore - not necessarily in that order! As the mother of three growing boys, her Kindle has become her temporary escape from the insanity of boys, dogs and her husband. Stacey can usually be found curled up with her iPad when she's supposed to be writing or creating endless playlists on Spotify!
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