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Authors: Brenda Jackson

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Temperatures Rising

BOOK: Temperatures Rising
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“Don’t you think you can control yourself in here alone with me?” he asked in a teasing voice.

“I’m the one who should be asking you that,” she said, snapping out the words. Too late, she wished she hadn’t, when she saw the darkening in his eyes. The look he was giving her had her pulse beating erratically at the base of her throat.

“Since you brought it up,” he said, his gaze roaming her figure from head to toe. “I was going to be a gentleman and control myself, but now I don’t think I will.”

She backed up and lifted her chin. “You think you’re going to force me to do something against my will?” she asked.

He smiled that sexy smile of his and she knew she’d lost the battle already. That darn dimple did her in. “No, but I may force you to admit something you’re being rather stubborn about. Although our relationship goals in life are different right now, at this very moment in time we want each other and there is no way you can deny it.”

“I do deny it.”

“Let’s see for how long.”

Books by Brenda Jackson

Kimani Romance

Solid Soul

Night Heat

Risky Pleasures

In Bed with Her Boss

Irresistible Forces

Just Deserts

The Object of His Protection

Temperatures Rising

Kimani Arabesque

Tonight and Forever

A Valentine Kiss

Whispered Promises

Eternally Yours

One Special Moment

Fire and Desire

Something to Celebrate

Secret Love

True Love

Surrender

Silhouette Desire

*
Delaney’s Desert Sheikh

*
A Little Dare

*
Thorn’s Challenge

Scandal Between the Sheets

*
Stone Cold Surrender

*
Riding the Storm

*
Jared’s Counterfeit Fiancée

Strictly Confidential Attraction

Taking Care of Business

*
The Chase Is On

*
The Durango Affair

*
Ian’s Ultimate Gamble

*
Seduction, Westmoreland Style

**
Stranded with the Tempting Stranger

*
Spencer’s Forbidden Passion

*
Taming Clint Westmoreland

*
Cole’s Red-Hot Pursuit

*
Quade’s Babies

*
Tall, Dark…Westmoreland!

BRENDA JACKSON

is a die “heart” romantic who married her childhood sweetheart and still proudly wears the “going steady” ring he gave her when she was fifteen. Because she’s always believed in the power of love, Brenda’s stories always have happy endings. In her real-life love story, Brenda and her husband of thirty-seven years live in Jacksonville, Florida, and have two sons.

A
New York Times
and
USA TODAY
bestselling author of more than fifty romance titles, Brenda is a recent retiree who worked for thirty-seven years in management at a major insurance company. She divides her time between family, writing and traveling. You may write to Brenda at P.O. Box 28267, Jacksonville, Florida 32226; e-mail her at [email protected] or visit her Web site at www.brendajackson.net.

BRENDA JACKSON
Temperatures Rising

To the love of my life, Gerald Jackson, Sr.

To the Mother Nature Matchmakers’ author team—
Carmen Green and Celeste O. Norfleet.
I enjoyed working with you ladies on this one.

To everyone who will be joining me on the 2009
Cruise to Canada. This one is for you!

Dear Reader,

When I was asked to participate in this MOTHER NATURE MATCHMAKER miniseries, I jumped at the chance. I live in Florida and one thing a Floridian knows about is how forceful a hurricane can be, as well as how to get prepared for it. And wouldn’t you know it, parts of this book were written by candlelight when Hurricane Fay decided to blow into town. How ironic is that?

I had fun teaming up with fellow authors Carmen Green and Celeste O. Norfleet to work on this miniseries and write Terrence Jeffries and Sherri Griffin’s story. Terrence was first introduced in my March 2009 Silhouette Desire story,
Tall, Dark…Westmoreland!,
as the brother of Olivia Jeffries, my heroine in that story. Terrence, a football legend known as the “Holy Terror,” is a man who has no qualms about going after what he wants. Bottom line is that he wants Sherri. But first, together, they have to weather the storm, and that isn’t an easy thing for two strong-willed individuals. Trust me when I say this is a man-versus-nature book in a number of ways.

When I was writing this story, I ate a lot of snack foods while sitting up at night listening to my battery-operated radio when the power went out. I appreciated the DJ who kept everyone sane while the heavy rains and strong winds ripped through the city. Terrence is that type of disc jockey. He is also a man determined to win over the woman he loves.

I hope you enjoy Terrence and Sherri’s story. The third Jeffries sibling, Duan Jeffries, will be featured in a book now-titled
Spontaneous,
which will be a Harlequin Blaze release in May 2010.

Happy reading!

Brenda Jackson

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.


Proverbs
11:29

Chapter 1

“S
herri, I would be honored if you joined me for dinner at my club tonight.”

Sherri Griffin never, ever got headaches, not in all her twenty-seven years. At least not until recently, when she’d taken the job of producer and program director of WLCK, a Key West radio station. That was when she had encountered Terrence Jefferies, a former NFL player for the Miami Dolphins and one of the station’s sports commentators.

He was also the owner of Club Hurricane, a popular nightclub in the Keys frequented by celebrities. From what she’d heard, when Terrence began play
ing pro football he had been nicknamed the Holy Terror by sportscasters because of his oftentimes surly attitude on the field. Besides Mean Joe Greene, there had not been another defensive tackle that had been so respected and feared. But when it came to pursuing women, he used an entirely different strategy. He was all smooth and debonair and never came across as intimidating or bad. Just relentlessly determined.

The man was also handsome as sin.

Drawing in a deep breath, she pulled herself together before looking up from the document she was reading to acknowledge Terrence’s entry into her office. Her answer today would be the same one she’d given him yesterday, the day before and for the past few weeks. Little did he know, it would take more than a gorgeous face, broad shoulders and tight buns to make her change her mind. She had to admit, though, there was definitely something about muscle shirts and jeans that clearly defined a well-built male body.

“Thanks for the invitation, but I’ll be busy,” she responded.

He simply smiled, and that softening around his lips actually sharpened her senses…as if they weren’t keen enough already where he was con
cerned. “One of these days I’m going to follow you home to find out just how you’re spending your evenings,” he said in a deep and throaty voice.

Definitely without you in them,
she thought, wondering if perhaps she was making a mistake by avoiding him, as her best friend, Kimani Cannon, claimed. According to Kim, whenever the Holy Terror made a pass, any normal woman would run with it and rush for the goal line, not turn away like she constantly did. Kim thought the man was as gorgeous as any man had a right to be, and wildly sexy. Grudgingly, Sherri could only admit Kim was right.

But Terrence also had a reputation a mile long, one she would never be able to tolerate. She hadn’t been at the station a week when his breakup with some wealthy socialite had been plastered all over the front page of the
Key West Citizen
.

“Sherri?”

She returned her attention to him, wishing he wouldn’t say her name like that. Doing so always caused her to remember him in her dreams. And yes, she would admit she’d dreamed about the infuriating man a few times, but as far as she was concerned that meant nothing…other than the fact that she was a woman who could appreciate a stunning male with definite sex appeal.

She placed the documents in her hand down on her desk as she met his gaze. “How I spend my evenings shouldn’t concern you, Terrence.”

He smiled again and she tried like heck to ignore the little shivers that ran down her spine. The man had a dimple in his right cheek, for heaven’s sake! She let out a sigh. He was getting to her, and dimple or no dimple, she was determined not to let him. She knew getting her into his bed was all a game to him—a game of conquest that she had no intention of playing.

“And what if I said I wanted to make it my concern?” he asked, sitting on the edge of her desk and leaning in close.

She tried to ignore the clean and manly aroma of his aftershave. “In that case I would say you have more time and energy than you really need. You might want to channel them elsewhere.”

She watched as his mouth—more specifically, his sinfully sculpted lips bordered by a neatly trimmed mustache and beard—eased into a grin. The grin showed his dimple again. She let out a slow breath. If she thought his smile was sexy, then his grin was guaranteed to take a woman’s breath away.

“I’ve been trying to channel them elsewhere for about a month now,” he said in a way that told her
he still wasn’t getting her message. “From the moment I first laid eyes on you I decided to channel all my thoughts, my time and my energy solely on you.”

Sherri could only stare at him and wonder if he ever ran out of pick-up lines. Reluctantly, she would even admit he was good at delivering them. It was a good thing that, thanks to Ben Greenfield, she was immune. “Don’t waste your time, Terrence.”

He shook his head and chuckled, and just like the smile and grin before them the chuckle was explosive. She could feel goose bumps forming on her arm. “It will be time worth wasting,” he said, leaning in closer.

She wished she could tell him that she was technically the boss of the radio station and that he was an employee. But she knew that wouldn’t work. Terrence and the station’s owner, Warrick Fields, were good friends and Terrence’s contract stipulated he reported only to Warrick. Everyone’s job was to keep the Holy Terror happy, especially since his show received high ratings each week and pulled in huge sponsorships. There was even talk of the show going into syndication next year.

It didn’t help matters that Warrick Fields was her mother’s twin brother. He had taken her complaints about Terrence with a grain of salt, which proved in
this case blood wasn’t thicker than water. Uncle Warrick actually thought Terrence’s “innocent” flirtation was amusing.

“I can see your mind is busy at work,” Terrence said, interrupting her thoughts. “I appreciate a woman who enjoys mulling over things, but now it’s you who’s wasting time. You can’t deny this chemistry between us.”

No, she couldn’t deny it. Nor would she act on it. “I hate to rush you off, Terrence, but as you can see I have plenty to do.”

He glanced at her desk. “I’m going to have to talk to Warrick about that. He shouldn’t work you so hard. You should have playtime.”

She rolled her eyes and imagined just what kind of playtime he was talking about. “I don’t need you to run interference for me. I can hold my own. Thank you.”

“If you’re sure,” he said, smiling and getting to his feet.

“I’m positive.”

“Then I’ll let you get back to work.”

Sherri let out a relieved breath when he turned and headed toward the door. Just her luck, he stopped before walking over the threshold and turned back around. When he caught her gaze, she felt the thud deep in her chest at the same time a heated sensation
traveled down her spine. He stood there in her doorway, all six foot three of him, and she could only stare at the well-built body. And his dark eyes were focused right on her.

“I won’t give up, Sherri. I think you know that,” he said in a determined tone. Not intimidating, not threatening. Just promising and unwavering.

Yes, she did know that, and the thought that one day he just might succeed made her pulse pound. But she would continue to resist him since getting involved in a relationship was the last thing on her mind. Building a career at the station was her top priority.

She made no response to what he’d said. He really didn’t give her a chance since he then turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Only then did she lean back in her chair and breathe. His masculine scent lingered in her office and she reached out and touched the spot on her desk where he’d sat. It was hot. The man was so hot-blooded he was capable of leaving heat behind.

He was determined to make trouble and she was just as determined not to let him. She had a job to do. Uncle Warrick was thinking about retiring in another year and he wanted her to be ready to take over as station manager when he did so. She would prove to her uncle that his faith in her was not a
mistake, and that she would be more than capable of managing the day-to-day operations of WLCK. Although it seemed the Holy Terror was not going to make her job easy, there was no way she would let him get in the way of her achieving her goal.

She stood and walked to the window and looked out. Key West was a beautiful seaport city and WLCK served the people by being one of the most popular stations in the area. She loved working here.

She had arrived almost a month ago and discovered the radio station that her uncle owned was a nice size compared to others she’d seen. Although the pay scale wasn’t any higher, not too many other stations could boast of having an ocean within walking distance.

The first change she had implemented upon taking the job was reinstating the dress code. According to Uncle Warrick, there had always been a dress code, but somewhere down the line the employees had ignored it, reasoning that it didn’t matter how they looked since the audience couldn’t see them.

Sherri believed in dressing professionally, and in the end she and the staff had compromised. The too-laid-back attire of shorts and flip-flops had gotten ruled out and replaced by business casual, with the majority of the employees wearing jeans and tops.
Personally, she’d never been a jeans-wearing woman. While working around a more aristocratic crowd at her uncle’s station in D.C., she had gotten used to business suits. Going from professional to casual wasn’t as easy as she’d thought, but she was working on it.

She glanced at her watch and walked back over to her desk. Terrence’s sports talk show would be airing in a few minutes and she wanted to tune in. Each office was equipped with an intercom that broadcasted all the shows so you could listen at will. Not that she was all into sports, but she made a habit of tuning in to his show, which filled an hour time slot twice a week.

Flipping on the dial of the radio unit beside her desk, she leaned back in her chair and slipped off her shoes with a long sigh. She’d spend the next hour with Terrence Jefferies. The man who was trying to get next to her—and the man she was determined to ignore.

 

Terrence couldn’t help but smile after hanging up the phone from talking to his sister. Olivia was happy and he was happy for her. It seemed the ugly hands of disaster hadn’t caught her in their clutches the way they had his father.

His mother had walked out on his old man, leav
ing him with the task of becoming a single father with three kids to raise. Terrence had been ten at the time, Duan twelve and Olivia only three. Things might not have been so bad if the man his mother had run off with hadn’t had a wife and kid of his own.

He was glad Olivia hadn’t listened to their father a few months back when he found out she’d gotten serious about a guy—a guy who just happened to be running against their father for a senate seat in the Georgia General Assembly. She had married Reggie Westmoreland and now she had a man who loved her and a huge family who had embraced her with a warm and sincere welcome.

Terrence glanced at his watch. He had already touched base with Cullen Carlisle, better known as CC, whom he’d hired to manage Club Hurricane a few years ago. According to CC, things were pretty busy for a Tuesday night, which wasn’t surprising considering this was the first week in June. Every year at this time college students headed south before making the trip home, wherever home was for them.

So far there had been only one situation where CC, who stood two inches taller than Terrence and weighed close to two-fifty, had had to intervene to bring order. A lamp on one of the tables had gotten broken and the man responsible quickly paid for the
damages. Terrence chuckled. Knowing CC, it was either pay up then or have pieces of the broken lamp shoved down your throat. To say CC took his job seriously was an understatement.

Terrence decided to do something he rarely did—be in bed before ten. Might as well since he hadn’t managed to talk Sherri into joining him at the club.

Sherri Griffin.

It took a lot for him to admit that he was virtually obsessed with the woman and had been since walking into Warrick’s office a month ago and finding her standing there…. Bending over was more like it. She had leaned down to pick a paper clip off the floor. He had appreciated the look of her shapely backside before getting a chance to see her face, and when he had, he had been pleased with the total package.

As he removed the last piece of his clothes to step into the shower, he couldn’t help but recall the exact moment she had straightened her body, turned around and looked into his face. He had stood there, literally transfixed while drinking in the lusciousness of her curves before taking an admiring visual path up to her face.

If there was such a thing as instant, mind-blowing physical attraction, he had experienced it right then
and there. A woman being pretty was one thing, but being punch-in-the-gut beautiful was another. First there was the most mesmerizing pair of sable-brown eyes he’d ever seen. Then there was a rounded chin on a medium-brown oval face, the two somehow totally in sync with each other. In addition to the softness of her high cheekbones and her shoulder-length styled hair, she had a pair of lips he would have given anything, possibly even his Heisman Trophy, to get a taste of.

Sizzling heat had instantly invaded his body, and it had taken Warrick saying his name twice before he had dragged his gaze away from her. But not before that same gaze had studied her hands and found her fingers ringless. And not before he’d decided that his six months of sexual draught were about to come to an end.

While Warrick had gone about making introductions, Terrence could tell by the set of Sherri’s jaw that she hadn’t liked the interest he was showing in her and she wouldn’t make things easy for him. No problem there since he was a man who appreciated a challenge every once in a while. Trouble was, he hadn’t counted on her still being a difficult case almost an entire month later. He refused to believe he was losing his touch or that the physical attraction hadn’t been mutual. He had seen the flame that
had come alive in her eyes, although she had immediately tried to douse it.

For him, Sherri Griffin projected a number of things and sexual pleasure headed the list. There was something totally feminine and sensually captivating about her. While she tried coming across as all business, he refused to go there with her. The only level he was willing to meet her on was a sexual one. The effect she had on him would make it impossible for things to be otherwise.

BOOK: Temperatures Rising
12.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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