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Authors: April King

Now and Forever

BOOK: Now and Forever
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Now and Forever

 

The Pigeonhole was closed. Grace Michael’s lounge and grill had lived up to her expectations.

This was a really good night for me
, she thought as a smiled touched her lips. Everything had gone smoothly. She had been especially pleased with the turnout. Her building had been filled to capacity with charming men and women from Nashville, who shared her love of good music and a relaxing atmosphere. Sage Sweet had literally blown the crowd away with her performance. A romantic ambiance had been created by her voice. In fact, every hour of the night had been magical. Who would have thought opening night would have gone off without a hitch?

Not Grace.

A year ago, she had not been certain The Pigeonhole would ever exist beyond her imagination. For five years, she had worked as a private investigator, specialized in establishing the fidelity, or infidelity, of a significant other for individuals who suspected they were being two-timed. And almost always, she had been the bearer of bad news. Her best friend Ava Williams had constantly chided her for being in the business of breaking hearts.

Grace couldn’t help it.

After all, it was her own failed marriage to Kevin at age twenty-five, which had caused her to pursue a degree in criminal justice and eventually become a private investigator. No words could describe the pain she’d felt when she discovered the man she had given her heart to was a selfish, lying jerk. She’d never forget the afternoon she’d gone to his office to surprise him with lunch. But it was Grace who’d received the biggest surprise of her life when she opened the door to find Kevin practically devouring his secretary. At that moment, her world fell like a house of cards. Two years is all she was granted of what she had thought was marital bliss before her world—and heart—had been shattered into a million little pieces. So she made it her mission to help other women, and men, blinded by love not to live in a world of illusion. But Grace had slowly grown weary of assisting in breaking hearts, especially after she’d met Dr. Tanner McGregor, an exercise physiologist.

She recalled the day Tanner had walked through the door of her downtown Nashville office.
Six feet tall and thirty-seven.
Curly hair the same shade as whipped butter.
His delicious golden-colored skin.
Intense eyes the color of a stormy sky.
Very kissable lips.
The top of his pristine white shirt had been unbuttoned, revealing a hint of his perfect upper body, while his gray slacks had accentuated his lower half. She also remembered the nature of their business.

Tanner had hired Grace to spy on Sheila, his fiancée. Their wedding day had been less than a month away, and they had discussed having children. But Tanner hadn’t been able to shake the feeling their relationship wasn’t all good. So, he’d wanted Grace to calm his fears about his wife-to-be.

But Grace’s findings hadn’t been in his favor.

She’d discovered Sheila had been sneaking to a hotel twice a week with an old flame.

When Grace had revealed this information to Tanner, the pain in his eyes had been too much for her to stand. It was the same pain she’d felt when she discovered Kevin had cheated on her.
 
The need to comfort him had been overwhelming.

But her boundaries had prevented her from taking action.

Damn
, she’d cursed inwardly. She’d felt partially responsible for causing Tanner’s world to shatter into a million little pieces. Somehow, he’d managed to steel his emotions. And through clenched teeth, he’d declared, “The wedding’s off.”

After Tanner had stalked out her office that day, Grace decided it was time for her to move on and away from private investigation. Her heart hadn’t been in it any longer.

Yep, at twenty-eight, a change had been just what she’d needed to breathe new life into a spirit, which had been low for too many years. Reviving her spirit had been one thing, she’d thought. Her physical needs were another. After being unattached and untouched for too many years to count, Grace wondered would she ever again feel the warmth of a man’s lips and hands burn her flesh with heated passion. Where was the magic man who’d crept into her dreams at night and whispered sweet words of love into her ears, while sending her into an orgasmic frenzy?

Maybe he doesn’t exist
, she thought.

“Follow your heart,” Ava had told her one evening. “Whatever you want is just within reach.”

Ava’s advice—and constant prodding—helped to convince Grace to open The Pigeonhole, but did little in helping her find her one true love.

“That’s okay,” Grace said, locking the doors to her lounge with pride. Even on the outside, it was beautiful.

She tugged at her sexy black dress, which was riding up. It was a far cry from the denim shirts and khaki pants she’d worn as a private investigator.

Someone cleared his throat.

Startled, Grace swung toward the sound.

Grace swallowed hard. Dr. Tanner McGregor stood before her. He wore a pale yellow pull over shirt and brown slacks. The moonlight made his skin look ethereal. Grace tried to ignore the butterflies in her stomach as she fumbled for words, “Um...”

“Congratulations,” Tanner offered. His lips curled into a sexy smile.

“Thanks,” Grace said, feeling instantly warm from her head to her toes. She fidgeted with her keys.

“I enjoyed myself tonight,” Tanner said.

Grace lifted a brow. Funny, she didn’t remember seeing him.

Tanner smiled at her puzzled look and clarified, “You were a very popular lady tonight. Everyone clamored for your attention. There was no way you would have noticed me. But I noticed
you
.”

Grace met his gaze. She shivered at the intensity she saw in his eyes. Maybe the full moon was having a strange effect upon her—playing tricks with her mind. Strange things were definitely happening to her body. With each word Tanner spoke, Grace’s body became alive and alert. Her imagination began to run wild. She wondered how it would feel to lock lips and hips with Tanner, while soft music played in the background. Would he rock her world? She wondered…

Slow down
, Grace warned herself. Tanner didn’t go for
her
type. Sheila, who could easily pass for Kate Upton’s twin, was more his type. Grace was petite with a rather firm, squeezable and unforgettable
tush
. Her shapely derriere garnered her lots of attention—mostly unwanted. She’d been told she could give J. Lo a run for her money. Not that she wished to compete against anyone in the posterior department. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d blushed from the catcalls appreciative, but tactless, members of the opposite sex had tossed her way. Ava told her healthy bottoms were “in” this season. But Grace didn’t care. She’d tell anyone who asked that she’d put in many hours of exercise in order to reduce the size of her backside.
Hah!
Those workouts only accentuated her bottom, and have actually caused some men to drool when she passed by. Some men…

Not Tanner.

He’s probably a breast man, Grace surmised. As she imagined running her fingers down Tanner’s hard, creamy thighs, she decided being into legs wasn’t such a bad thing.

“I could take them off,” Tanner said with a devilish grin.

“Huh?”

Tanner tugged on his pants for emphasis. “You’ve been so distracted by them for the past few minutes that you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

Omigod
!
At that moment, all Grace wanted to do was run and hide. But knowing her luck, she’d only suffer further embarrassment by tripping in her six-inch heels. She had to get away from this man and salvage some of the good sense she had left. “Well, good night,” Grace said quickly, walking away.

“Let me walk you to your car at least,” Tanner insisted, easily catching up to her. “It’s late and a lady should not be out alone.”

Grace stopped in her tracks. She placed her free hand on her hip in order to stop herself from given Tanner the full dose—rolling eyes and snorting—of her saucy attitude. “Just wait a minute,” Grace fired, glaring at Tanner through narrowed eyes.
 
“I don’t need a babysitter. I am fully capable of taking care of myself.”

“That may be so,” Tanner said, returning Grace’s stare coolly. “But your dress barely covers your rear and…”

Grace’s attention went immediately to her dress, which had ridden so far up that it came dangerously close to revealing the lacey black thong she wore. Without a word, she straightened her dress, and headed for her car, which was parked on the side of the building. Tanner followed behind her. “Good God,” she thought she heard him say. When they reached her car, Grace extended her hand to Tanner, “Thanks for looking out for me. It was nice to see you again.”

Instead of a handshake, Grace found herself wedged between her car and Tanner. Somehow, he’d managed to lean her against the driver’s side and seize her lips with his in the blink of an eye. Grace couldn’t think. He had caught her off guard. It’s been so long since she’d been savored by a man that she struggled to decide the proper response.

But she didn’t have to struggle for long.

Her body knew just what it wanted. Tanner. Her lips met his eagerly. Her mouth welcomed the warm reception Tanner’s tongue gave it. He faintly tasted of mint as he made her head swim and knees wobbly with his tantalizing, masterful kiss. Grace could barely catch her breath as Tanner continued to torture her with deep, wet kisses. Then again, she didn’t want to. She was totally under his spell, and loving every minute of it. She enjoyed the sweet havoc he played with her senses. Her body quivered in his arms with desire and an explosive need to do more.
Much more.

 

This man can do magic
. In a matter of minutes, he had pleased her in a way that Kevin hadn't been able to during the entire two years of their marriage. Grace knew if she wasn’t careful, Tanner would not only possess her body, but also her heart and soul. The chemistry between them was just too powerful for her to ignore, deny, or resist. Grace’s need to be consumed by Tanner’s heat nearly overwhelmed her. Everything that made her a woman ached with this need. The impressive swelling in Tanner’s pants told Grace of his need, too.

He slid his hand slowly down her back and waist, stopping just below her bottom. Grace felt his fingers on the hem of her dress. He gave the silky fabric a gentle tug until it settled at its proper length.

Tanner released his hold on Grace’s mouth. He stared into her eyes—hot and steamy. He traced her lips with his fingertips, while visibly resisting the urge to pick up where he’d just left off. “Good night, Grace,” he said, opening her car door. He closed it behind her after she was settled securely the driver’s seat.

Inside her car, Grace sighed. What had just occurred? A spontaneous combustion, that’s what. And possibly a big mistake made by two lonely people who’d gone without sex for far too long.
Grace more so than Tanner.
She licked her lips, trying to recapture Tanner’s taste. She inhaled the rich, manly scent of his cologne, which lingered lightly on her garment, reminding Grace how close she’d clung to him beneath the star-spangled sky. She bit her bottom lip ruefully. Tanner had opened a floodgate of emotions and desires, which she kept secure and guarded for years. It had been the only way she felt she could protect her heart, especially from men like Kevin. And no man had been able to break through her barrier.

That is, until Tanner McGregor entered the picture.

But he could do magic. Quickly and effectively, he’d casted a spell on her. He was so sexy, so hypnotic. A walking fantasy…

Get a grip, girl
. It was only one little kiss—one mind-numbing, pulse-racing and knee-knocking kiss. Plus,
that
would never happen again. Not to Grace Michaels, queen of loneliness.

Grace sighed. She decided the warm bubble bath she’d planned to soak in would have to

wait
. She was on fire in sensitive places. Only a cold, cold shower could extinguish these flames.
At least, temporarily.

 

*

 

Tanner McGregor watched as Grace entered safely into her home. He didn’t miss the annoyed look she’d tossed his way before closing the door behind her. He’d taken that as his cue to call it a night.
Alone.

Prompted by a natural instinct to protect her, he’d boldly trailed Grace from The Pigeonhole. Tanner was fully aware of Grace’s strong and independent nature. He’d picked up on it the first day they’d met in her office a year ago. Truth is
,
he has always been drawn to a woman with a mind of her own. After all, he was raised by a strong woman.

Tanner rubbed his chin, thinking how Grace probably considered him a Neanderthal, since he’d followed her home without her permission. Not to mention the liberty he’d taken with her lips. Her sweet, soft lips…

Tanner raked his fingers through his mass of curls. What’s gotten into him? Rather, who’s gotten under his skin?

“Grace Michaels,” he sighed.

Tanner felt a swelling between his legs. Man, just saying her name did wild things to his body. “Down, boy,” he commanded.

BOOK: Now and Forever
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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