Authors: Melissa Schroeder
transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
The Sweet Shoppe: Tempting Prudence
Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Schroeder
Cover by Brandy Walker
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
The Sweet Shoppe:
Because you understand me better than anyone and you still love me.
Tempting Prudence was written my first year in publishing and is still one of my favorite books. It’s short, but definitely sweet.
It definitely is a bit different than my work today in a lot of ways, but similar just the same. Understand that this was originally published in early 2005 less than a year after my first release.
Even though it is under 10,000 words, Jonas is still one of my favorite heroes.
I hope you enjoy Jonas and Pru.
From the time of Arthur and Camelot, she has traveled the world, dispensing her magical sweets. Her spells allow anyone who eats the confections to fulfill their hidden fantasies with the one they love. But if the recipient doesn't believe their love is returned, then they are condemned to a life of knowing their lack of faith caused them to lose the one person they were destined to love.
Prudence Merriweather eyed the glorious pyramid of chocolate-covered cherries in the window and sighed. Why was it as soon as she made a resolution to lose weight, The Sweet Shoppe opened in her office building? It was cruel and unusual punishment, that’s what it was. Prudence licked her lips. There was no way she would be able to eat just one, if she bought a box. It seemed a little silly to buy just one.
“Find anything to your liking, Ms. Merriweather?” Jonas Smith’s warm breath tickled her ear.
Her gaze shot up and she saw that her coworker had snuck up on her. His chiseled face split into a boyish grin the moment they made eye contact in the window. Her face heated. So did her body. Jonas was a big man, over six-five, and had to weigh over two hundred and fifty pounds. None of it fat.
Prudence sighed again. Just her stupid Merriweather luck that the one man in her office that made her knees go to jelly every time she saw him caught her drooling over food. Chocolate, at that. Why couldn’t she drool over low-fat cookies?
’Cause they sucked, that’s why.
“Too many things to my liking, Mr. Smith.” Turning to face him, Prudence took a step back when she realized how close he was
standing. She bumped into the window with a thud. His grin deepened, bringing a
mischievous glint to his tawny eyes. Oh, and those dimples became more pronounced. The dark blue suit emphasized the breadth of his shoulders, while the ivory shirt complemented his tanned skin. She fought the urge to brush back the familiar lock of dark blond hair that fell onto his forehead.
He leaned closer, placing his hand on the window behind her. The sandalwood scent of his aftershave sent another little tingle along her nerve endings. She glanced at his hand and noticed his jacket and shirt had risen to where she could see his thick wrist. It would look so good in leather. Why did she have such a thing for big, hunky men?
“But I have a feeling there’s something in particular you like.” His voice was full of masculine teasing.
Prudence glanced back up at his face. Heat gathered in her tummy and slid between her legs. Her heart did a little jump when his chest brushed against her breasts.
“Ahhh ...” Great, Pru, kill him with your conversation skills. “Chocolate-covered
His gaze slid passed her to the shop window and t
hen back again. “Dark or milk?”
as it her imagination, or did he lean in closer?
“Dark or milk what?” Her question came out in a breathy sort of voice. She didn’t
speak in that kind of voice. Accountants had to be businesslike and abrupt. But how could she help it when she felt the heat of him through her wool suit? She shivered.
“Chocolate? Oh, on my ... cherries.” She licked her lips and swallowed. “Milk.”
For a second or two, there was something akin to lust in his eyes. Her body
throbbed just from the thought. She found herself leaning closer, wanting to capture the feeling of being in his arms. Someone opened the door to the shop, and the little bell jingled, breaking the spell. She shook her head to clear it and sidestepped Jonas. His smile dimmed a little and he looked disappointed. Puuuulllease. Men like Jonas had no interest in her. They might be the best of friends, but Prudence knew her plus-size body didn’t inspire men to fall head-over-heels in lust.
“I ... ah ... I have a meeting.”
He straightened and put his hand in his pocket. His full lips curved again. She’d bet they tasted better than chocolate-covered cherries.
“Yeah, I know. It’s in my office.”
“Right.” She stepped back. “For the year-in-review thingy.” Oh, yeah, good. Use your intelligence to entice him.
“See you in a few, Ms. Merriweather.”
She nodded, then turned and hurried to the elevator. A few minutes to regroup and a cup of coffee were what she needed. Spending an hour in the company of Jonas Smith could lead to fantasies. Not businesslike at all. She might just forget her audience and mention tying him up and jumping his bones. And then she’d have to find another job.
As she stepped into the elevator and turned, she noticed he was standing by the window and peering at her chocolate-covered cherries. A moment later, he went into the shop. Prudence wondered just what a man in his shape wanted in a shop like that.
* * * *
Jonas studied the pyramid of chocolate cherries as he thought about Ms. Merriweather. Prudence. Pru, as he’d heard a few people call her. Was there anything more tantalizing than a woman with a look of such wanting on her face? Especially one with a body like Prudence’s. Full-figured, curvy, full hips, and breasts that he was sure would overflow his hands.
If he knew women -- and he did -- he would bet that Prudence would have given over a fortune for one chocolate-covered cherry. Silly woman probably thought they were too fattening. He’d grown up with a mother and a sister who were constantly on diets. Both of them tended to be a tad underweight, in his estimation. Fragile. He loved both of them, but he would never be attracted to a woman he was afraid of touching. Since the time he’d started dating, he’d always felt like a big brute next to most of his dates. Football players dated the cheerleaders, who barely weighed more than a chicken bone.
Now, Prudence Merriweather looked like she could handle a little touching. He could still smell her scent.
. The woman smelled of vanilla and cinnamon. How could he not want to eat her up? She’d taste sweeter than any chocolate he’d ever had. He’d bet his life on it.
His blood heated as he remembered the way her tongue had darted out, licking her lips. He shifted from foot to foot, hoping to ease the erection that sprang to the ready whenever Prudence was around. Or within a fifty-mile radius. Hell, all he had to do was think of her, all that curly brown hair and her blue eyes, and he had a hard-on.
He made his way into the shop, the little bell tinkling as he entered. Instantly, the aroma of cookies baking filled the air. It was almost intoxicating. He turned and walked to the display of cherries and decided he would have to fulfill one temptation for Prudence. In return, maybe he could convince her to fulfill one for him. Jonas lost most of the blood from his brain thinking about getting her into his bed, or hers. Didn’t matter. He’d been lusting after the woman for the last six months. If she would say yes, he’d take her in the middle of Harry Hines Boulevard.
“You see something you want, yes?”
He turned and then had to look down. A woman dressed in a peasant shirt, a long broomstick skirt, and a kerchief on her head stood a few feet away. The top of her head reached just about his mid-chest area. She smiled at him, her ancient face creasing. He couldn’t see what color her hair was, but black-painted eyebrows rose, and ebony eyes studied him. The jangle of her many bracelets caught his attention as she gestured toward the window.
“You want some of my cherries? I dip zem myself.” Her voice was heavily accented, something old-worldly.
“Yes, I do want them. Do you have a special box for gift-giving?”
Her eyes sparkled and she nodded. “Yes. Zis is for a friend?”
He couldn’t help smiling when he thought of Prudence. “Yes, a ... ah ... lady friend.”
“Ahhh.” She turned and hobbled over to her counter. He followed in her wake. “I will haf zem ready for you by five, good?”
No, he wanted them for their meeting. “Well, I thought you could box up the ones in the window.”
She stopped abruptly and spun around, amazing him with her speed, considering her age. “Non. I will make new. Fresh. Zese have been setting in zee air, not good. Five o’clock.”
“Do I pay you now?”
“Non.” And with that, she disappeared behind the counter and through a red curtain. He
shrugged and headed out the door, contemplating all the ways he could get Prudence to eat those treats.
For some reason, every one of them had Prudence naked. And in his bed. Or on his desk. Or anywhere
—as long as she was naked. He stifled a curse when his pants drew tight over his cock. If he didn’t have the woman soon, he was going to go out of his ever-loving mind.
Somehow he had to convince her to come to dinner tonight, and then he could give her the cherries. If she didn’t accept, there was a good chance he would pass out from lack of blood in his brain.
Prudence tapped her foot to the junky elevator rendition of a Beatles’ tune while she waited to reach the thirty-second floor. She really didn’t want to go to this meeting. In fact, she had been dreading it since her company had hired Jonas Smith six months ago. Turner Texas Technologies, or Triple T, as it was known in the biz, required the accounting department to meet with department heads about last year’s figures. They believed that it opened up the line of communication for sounder fiscal policies. In her
practical little accountant heart, she agreed. Prudence just wished someone else would handle the plastics division.
The doors slid open and she walked slowly down the hall to his office. She smiled and waved at several coworkers who’d left their doors open. Guiltily, she con
templated stopping by someone’s—anyone’s—desk. It would cut her time with Jonas, since she had meetings scheduled back-to-back today. Normally she could sit and gaze at Jonas all day, but in this case, they expected her to think. With the big, bronzed Adonis staring at her, she knew it was going to be hard to breathe, let alone talk.
Dragging her feet, Prudence reached his outer office door. As she reached for the knob, the door flew open. Jonas’s secretary practically ran into her. The usually competent woman looked harried. When she saw who she almost ran into, Christine gave Prudence a distracted smile.
“Oh, Ms. Merriweather, I tried to contact you. Mr. Smith had something come up. He wants to reschedule but—”
Jonas materialized behind his secretary. “I’ll take care of it, Christine.”
She glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, good, there you are. Well, I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
He nodded, and Prudence stepped back to allow enough room for the woman to pass. The moment she slipped past, Prudence realized she’d been left alone with Jonas. She could already feel her palms getting sweaty.
She looked at him and her heart flip-flopped. Why did the man have to look and smell so good? “Yes?”
“We had a situation arise with production, and I was wondering if we could reschedule the appointment?”
“Ahh ... well, I’m sure I can find something next week.” She moved to pull out her Blackberry, when he stopped her with a comment. “I thought we could get together tonight.”
Her head shot up and she smacked him in the chin. She rubbed her head and wondered if he snuck up on everyone that way. “Sorry. Tonight?”
He moved his jaw from side to side. “I know it’s Friday, and if you have plans, I understand.”
Prudence snorted. His lips curved and a zing shot down her spine. Not professional to snort or have zingy feelings. Straightening her shoulders, she cleared her throat.
“No, I didn’t have plans for tonight.”
A look of what might have been relief lit his face. “Great.” He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a business card. “My home address is on here.”
“Home address?” She took the card and stared down at it blankly. Ivory card, dark red lettering. This had to be some cruel joke. If she went to his house, she would know what it looked like and she would picture him there. That was not good.
“I hope you don’t mind. I have a ton of work to accomplish before I head out of town. I have a conference in San Diego next week and have to leave late Saturday night.”
Prudence wanted to argue with him, but she had accommodated Monica Phillips from the beauty products division when she’d needed to work after hours. “Sure, no problem. What time?”
She nodded and walked down the hall in a haze. This was sooo not good. Someway, somehow, she would end up doing something stupid, like begging him to tear her clothes off. She snorted and a few of the people waiting for the elevator gave her strange looks.
Yeah, she’d do something just like that. She was destined for disaster.
* * * *
Jonas hummed as he poured a bit of olive oil into the heated skillet. Picking it up, he tilted the pan back and forth until the oil covered the bottom. As he chopped an onion, he thought about the evening ahead. Just the thought of Prudence in his house had his dick rock hard and throbbing. He concentrated on his task, figuring that maybe he shouldn’t think of Prudence while handling sharp objects.
After he finished with the onion, he threw it in the hot oil and started on the garlic. He eyed the box of candies he’d picked up and smiled. Knowing the way women thought, Jonas was pretty sure Prudence would probably refuse the treats, at first. That would allow him to tempt her, tease her into eating them. His dick twitched when the image of slipping the candy into her sweet, luscious mouth popped into his head.
He swore when he missed the garlic and almost chopped off his finger. Concentrate on the task. After he finished chopping the garlic, he threw that in the skillet and was about to pull out the chicken when the doorbell rang. Every nerve in his body went on alert. He wiped his hands on the towel and noticed they were shaking. Jonas turned down the heat and walked to the door.
Not since his high school days had a woman had this effect on him. He needed Prudence on some elemental level he didn’t quite understand. When he’d first come to work for Triple T, he’d noticed those baby blues, and, well, who could miss that glorious round rump?
He’d been attracted, but soon the attraction turned to something ... more. Something that had him ignoring offers from available women and had given him his first wet dream in years. Now he had her just where he wanted her. Lord knows it took him long enough to get her alone. Each time he’d tried to approach her, she’d skittered away. As he reached for the doorknob, he promised himself that it wasn’t going to happen this time.
Ms. Prudence Merriweather wouldn’t be able to slip away.