BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?
Crickitt Day needs a job . . . any job. After her husband walks out on her, she’s determined to re-build her life and establish a new career. When swoon-worthy billionaire Shane August hires her as his assistant, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Despite her growing attraction to her boss, she vows to keep things strictly professional. No flirting. No kissing. Definitely no falling in love…
Shane August is all business, all the time. He’s a self-made man who’s poured his heart and soul into his company, and he’d never allow himself to get involved with an employee. Then he hires sweet, sexy Crickitt-and he can’t keep his mind or his hands off her. But no matter how much he wants Crickitt, Shane fears that painful secrets from his past will always come between them. With fate working against them, can these two lonely hearts learn that sometimes mixing business with pleasure is the perfect merger?
She touched her lips self-consciously. “Do I have chocolate on my face or something?”
“Let me get it.”
Before she could wipe away the incriminating splotch, Shane stopped her hand. Leaning in, he swiped the corner of her mouth with the tip of his tongue, then covered it with a kiss. She allowed her eyes to slide shut, savoring the feel of his mouth as he repeated the action on the other side and then moved to her top lip, then the bottom.
Crickitt opened her eyes drowsily.
“Sorry,” he murmured, pulling away. “I lied. You didn’t have chocolate on your face. I just wanted to kiss you.” He hoisted an eyebrow. “Hope you’re not mad.”
Mad? Not quite. Drunk from his potent kisses, maybe. Wildly turned on, definitely. She found Shane downright irresistible whenever he dropped his guard, which he seemed to do around her a lot. At work and with clients she’d noticed this “consummate professional” side of his personality. But when he was with her he was relaxed. Open.
Shane rested his elbow on one elevated knee, demonstrating her point. His eyebrow lifted the slightest bit, and she knew he was about to tease her. “Your move.”
The lingering taste of Shane and chocolate mingled on her lips. And she wanted more.
Lifting from her cross-legged position on the blanket, Crickitt knelt in front of him, holding his eyes with hers. Heart leaping to her throat, she leaned in and kissed him. He returned it with gentle pressure. Scooting closer, she clutched the hair at his nape and captured his lips again.
When his warm fingers gripped her waist, her breath hitched. Shane moved his hand away. “Sorry.”
She moved it back, continuing to tease him with her tongue and convince him he had nothing to be sorry for. He didn’t need to be told twice. Wrapping her in his arms, he hauled her onto his lap where he continued his slow, intentional exploration of her mouth.
She’d missed this. Mutual attraction. Being held, adored. Being kissed by a man because he wanted her, rather than out of a sense of marital duty. She’d forgotten the excitement of being new to someone. The way it caused her heart to swell against her ribcage as if it were ready to burst. Settling onto Shane’s lap, she enjoyed the luxury of it, allowing her own hands to travel. The sounds of nature slowly grounded her and she ended the lengthy lip-lock in favor of much-needed oxygen.
He peered at her under thick, dark lashes, his lips parted and damp from her kisses. She moved in for another taste—she couldn’t help it—and shifted on his lap. Then she tensed as his hard length pressed into her inner thigh. Drawing away, she met his eye.
Shane’s lips tipped into a rueful grin. “You weren’t supposed to notice that.”
“Kind of hard to miss.”
Imagine you’re heartbroken. Crying. Literally into your drink at a noisy nightclub your best friend has dragged you into. Just as you are lamenting your very bad decision to come out tonight, someone approaches. A tall, handsome someone with a tumble of dark hair, expressive amber eyes, and perfectly contoured lips. Oh, and he’s rich. Not just plain old rich, but rich of the filthy, stinking variety. This is exactly the situation Crickitt Day, the heroine of Tempting the Billionaire, finds herself in one not-so-fine evening. Oh, to be so lucky!
I may have given the characters of Tempting the Billionaire a fairy tale/fantasy set up, but I still wanted them rooted and realistic. Particularly, my hero. It’s why you’ll find Shane August a bit of a departure from your typical literary billionaire. Shane visits clients personally, does his own dishes, makes his own coffee. And—get ready for it—bakes his own cookies.
Hero tip: want to win over a woman? Bake her cookies.
The recipe for these mysterious and amazing bits of heavenly goodness can be traced back to a cookbook by Erin McKenna, creator of the NYC-based bakery Babycakes. What makes the recipes so special, you ask? They use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter. The result is an amazingly moist, melt-in-your-mouth, can’t-stop-at-just-one chocolate chip cookie you will happily burn your tongue on when the tray comes out of the oven. Bonus: coconut oil is rumored to help speed up your metabolism. I’m not saying these cookies are healthy…but I’m not not saying it, either.
Attempting this recipe required a step out of my comfort zone. I tracked down unique ingredients. I diligently measured. I spent time and energy getting it right. That’s when I knew just the hobby for the down-to-earth billionaire who can’t keep himself from showing others how much he cares. And if a hero is going to bake you cookies, what better place to be served saidcookies than by a picturesque waterfall? None, I say. (Well, okay I can think of another location or two, but admit it, a waterfall is a pretty dang good choice.)
As you can imagine, Crickitt is beyond impressed. And when a rogue smear of chocolate lands on her lips, Shane is every bit the gentleman by—ahem—helping her remove the incriminating splotch. Alas, that’s a story for another day. (Or, for chapter nineteen...)
I hope you enjoy losing yourself in the very real fantasy world of Shane and Crickitt. It was a world I happily immersed myself in while writing; a world I still imagine myself in whenever a certain rich, nutty, warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie is melting on my tongue.