Playing for Keeps, Book 2
Entangled Publishing (October 20th, 2015)
Good girl, meet bad cowboy...
Marketing Tycoon Tyler Mackenzie, a.k.a. Wildman Mac, has a knack for knowing what people want and, more importantly, what they need…so when he decides to show sweet and sexy yoga instructor Jess Gray that she's the one for him, he puts a seductive campaign into motion.
When Mac defines the terms for the week and insists she do everything he says, Jess can't help but be intrigued. Since this good girl wants to break free and do something naughty, she agrees to his terms and soon finds herself embarking on a sexual journey that knows no limits. For Jess this is one week of living out her fantasies, but Mac is determined to make this wild ride last forever.
Jesus Christ this was a stupid idea. Stupidest goddamn idea he’d ever heard. And as president and owner of Mackenzie Marketing, the East Coast’s most successful advertising company, Tyler Mackenzie knew a stupid idea when he heard one. So why the hell had he agreed to it when his best friend Chase Cooper suggested he and their other best friend Curtis Jagger all contact the girls from their past, the ones they thought had gotten away, to see if they could have a future?
Because I’d never gotten over that sweet kiss I shared with her, that’s why.
Mac glanced at Coop and Jag as they all stood under a towering oak tree watching the small plane land on the ranch’s makeshift runaway. The warm afternoon sun broke through the canopy of leaves overhead; Mac fisted his hands and exhaled slowly, but it did nothing to ease the cold knot of apprehension tightening his gut.READ MORE
Sure he’d thought of Jess Gray over the years, the shy, quiet girl next door he’d spent his high school years crushing on, the one who’d always listened silently, carefully, when he spoke, but had little to say in return. But having Jag’s private investigative company track her down while Mac put together a proposal he’d hoped she couldn’t refuse was a damn stupid idea. Shit. When this was all over he’d have to remember to kick Coop’s ass.
Tessa Turner, the experienced ranch hand who ran things when the guys were back home in Nova Scotia, where they all held down full-time jobs, met the plane as it came to a stop. The door opened and Mac swallowed against the dryness in his throat as the passengers began to disembark.
Had he mentioned this was a stupid idea?
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the ball of tension building between them. Honestly, what were the odds that any of the three girls would show, anyway? An anonymous invitation to a working dude ranch in Springvale, Alberta, for a week of R&R would probably come off as a little sketchy to smart, educated women like them. Yeah, he had nothing to worry about. The chance of Jess actually climbing off that plane was slim to none.
The second he saw a long set of legs touch the first step he knew it was her. As a yoga instructor, her body was lean and fit, and he’d recognize those sleek legs anywhere. His heart hammered against his ribs, and his knees damn near gave out on him as he waited in anticipation. Jesus, his palms were even sweaty. The world seemed to close in on him as he continued to watch her move down the steps. Off in the distance near the horse corral, he could hear someone calling out to him, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying over the sound of his pulse drumming in his ears.
“Holy shit,” he murmured, driving his hands into his jeans as he watched her pull her bag tight to her chest, her long dark hair brushing against her shoulders as she glanced around, trying to orient herself.
Jess was here. She was actually here.
Still trying to wrap his brain around the fact that she’d accepted the invitation and boarded the plane, Mac moved toward her on legs not quite steady. She turned curious brown eyes on him and he stopped to remove his Stetson, which shadowed the lower half of his head and neck. She studied him a moment, taking a good long look, then her mouth parted in an O of surprise as recognition registered on her face When their eyes met and held, she gifted him with a smile. A smile so bright and disarming, this time he found his entire body breaking out in a sweat—and it had nothing to do with the scorching sun.
He put his hat back on and looked her over. Taking in the dress she was wearing, and the soft auburn highlights in her hair. Jesus, she’d been pretty back in high school, but now she was…beautiful. Jess Gray had blossomed into a gorgeous woman whom he couldn’t wait one more second to get to know better. Strides determined, and with the world around him fading to a dull buzz, he quickly closed the distance between them. His heart thundered in his head as everything about her set off a storm inside him.
But as he approached, her smile fell and panic moved into her eyes. What the hell? Hooves sounded on the dry ground and that’s when he realized the thundering wasn’t coming from inside his head. She looked over his shoulder and faltered backward, and the next thing Mac knew they were both flat out on the ground, his body pressing hers into the soil. He immediately came up on his elbow and brushed her hair from her forehead, wanting to protect her from his weight bearing down on her. He shifted to the side. “Are you okay?” he asked quickly, unease tightening his gut as his gaze moved her face. Fuck, if he hurt her…
“I’m okay,” she said quietly.
Dust roared up around him, and when something nudged him he turned to see his horse Eleanor.
“Shit,” ranch hand Blake Callahan said as he came running over. “Sorry, Mac. She got loose. I tried to warn you but you didn’t hear.” Blake grabbed Eleanor’s harness. “She’s been temperamental lately.”
“It’s okay,” Mac assured Blake as the ranch hand started to guide Mac’s pregnant mare back to her stall. “She’s been a little possessive of me all week.”
Blake ran a gentle hand over the horse’s protruding side. “She’s getting close.”
“I’ll check on her in a few,” Mac promised, watching Blake lead the mare away.
When they were out of sight, he turned his attention back to Jess, and her body softened beneath his as their gazes once again collided. While he wanted to apologize—Christ, he hadn’t expected their first meeting after ten years to go down quite like that—he couldn’t say he was sorry that Eleanor had gotten loose and knocked him into her.
“You sure you’re okay?” he asked again and slipped his hand around her head to lift it off the hard ground and provide a cushiony place for it to rest.
Jess nodded, her cheeks turning a pretty shade of pink. “I’m okay,” she said breathlessly. “You?”
“Yeah. I’m okay.” Warm familiarity curled around him and he couldn’t seem to move—didn’t want to move. He stayed on top of her, his glance moving over her pretty face, her mouth. Lips he’d kissed so long ago, and was dying to kiss again. Jess Gray. Jesus, he couldn’t believe she’d actually taken him up on his invitation, or that he had one whole week to spend with her and explore the pull between them, one he felt now, every bit as much as he had all those years ago.
“Mac?” she asked.
He looked deep into her eyes, dark, expressive eyes that told him so much about her. He took a moment to recall that kiss from long ago—one he’d tricked her into—yeah, he was always the joker back in the day. The high school gym had been full of students and teachers, celebrating the last dance before Christmas vacation. He’d called her over to the doorway, and when she reached him, he pointed upward. He remembered the flush on her cheeks, much like the flush she had now, when she saw the mistletoe dangling over his head. She’d opened her mouth to say something and that’s when he kissed her. So sweet. So fucking soft and sweet. That kiss, not to mention the journal of hers that he’d managed to get a quick peek at earlier that same day, had told him so much about the girl beneath the shy surface, so much about who Jess really was, and what she truly wanted. But when he’d pulled back she took off, leaving him standing there completely crushed and utterly speechless. Never before, or after, had any woman left him feeling so…confused after a simple kiss.
As he looked her over now, it occurred to him he never wanted to frighten her off like that again. She might be shy and sensitive, bringing out the protector in him, but she also had a quiet strength about her. It was just going to take the right guy to show her she was strong, beautiful, and desirable. The right guy to coax her out from her shell and release her adventurous spirit, one he’d discovered that fateful night so long ago. There was no doubt he wanted to be the guy she needed.
Hell, he would be the guy she needed.
He looked at her lips, full, plump…so damn kissable. Her hair splayed across the ground, and a bevy of fantasies rushed through his brain, mainly how she’d look spread out on his bed. He swallowed the groan of want rumbling in his throat.
“What…what am I doing here?” she asked.
He touched a strand of hair, running it though his thumb and forefinger.
He brushed his thumb over her cheek. “Yeah, we do,” he said quietly, completely blown away that she was here, with him. Jesus, he was the luckiest man alive.
She went quiet for a moment, and then she said, “Perhaps we should get up, so you can explain it to me.”
Shit, he hadn’t even realized they were still on the ground. “Right.” He inched upward and frowned when he noticed the dust caking her sundress. “And we should probably get you out of these clothes.”
Her eyes dimmed with something akin to desire and Mac couldn’t help but smile. This was the best goddamn idea Coop had ever had.
He’d have to remember to thank him when this was all over.COLLAPSE