If you haven’t read the prologue, you can do that now to catch up. Here is the first paragraph! Grab the book while you can for just 99 cents, then it’s going to $2.99!
Three years later
Reed walked through the front door of the family construction firm that would be all his responsibility one day, past the receptionist who always waved and winked at him. She’d been there since his father started the business and was old enough to be his mother. Hell, she was there when he was born.
He grinned and nodded his head, then made his way down the hall to the accounting department.
He hated dealing with the paperwork on the builds, even the vendors, but he needed to know the cost of a generator that had been purchased and installed in a new build last month since the owners were complaining about it. He’d like to push the complaints off to someone else too, but the truth was, as big as their firm was and as wealthy as they’d all become, his father taught him to always deal with the customers one on one. It was that little something extra that allowed them to grow as they had.
“Taylor,” he said to the newest member of his team. “Do you have a second to look something up for me?”
Her head popped up from behind her computer monitor, she took her reading glasses off her face, and he had to stop the saliva from dribbling out of his mouth.
Clear blue eyes were now staring at him, a few freckles on her nose and high cheekbones. Her dirty blonde hair was falling over her shoulders and she was saying something to him.
“What?” he asked.
“I asked what you needed me to look up for you.”
“Oh,” he said, smiling. He’d been flirting with her for weeks, but she never gave him the time of day. Once in a while she’d grin or laugh, but it was so infrequent he didn’t really count it in his mind. “Can you pull up the cost of the generator for the Minkton build we did a few months ago? The owners are questioning the cost because they don’t like the generator.”
“Sure,” she said, “just give me a second.”
Her voice was soft, a caress that just washed over his body more times than it should. He’d look at her and heat would build in places his body loved to feel it. Too bad he couldn’t get her to feel it too.
Reed walked over and sat in the chair in front of her desk while she looked it up. He took that time to glance over the items on the desk and pinned to the wall. Nothing of a personal nature at all, giving him no clue to her life.
There was no ring on her left hand, so he suspected she was single but hadn’t asked yet. He wouldn’t until she showed some sign of being interested in him. Or even talking to him for anything other than work-related questions.
She’d only been employed here two months, so time yet to get to know her better. Until then there was no shortage of women he could entertain himself with for the night when the time arose. It arose often, but he didn’t give in to it much anymore. He found he didn’t enjoy the headache that came along with it now. Of course heartache was all he seemed to experience in the past few years.
“Here it is,” she said after she’d been clicking around on the computer, and now she swiveled away and opened up the filing cabinet. It gave him time to appreciate the view of her curvy backside in some nicely fitted jeans. He’d keep those thoughts to himself though. Then remember them when he was in bed later tonight.
She handed the invoice to him. He looked it over and said, “I’m just going to make a copy of this and then I’ll give it back to you.”
“I can do that if you’d like,” she offered.
“I’ve got it. Thanks.” He stood up and went to the copy room, ran it through the machine, and then returned the original to her.
She reached an elegant hand toward him, void of any polish or jewelry. Now that he thought of it, she was pretty simple at the heart of it.
She always had jeans on like every other employee in the building, but she didn’t wear a lot of makeup and the only jewelry he’d seen on her was a small pair of gold hoops in her ears when she pushed her hair behind her ears like she was doing now. He wondered if he made her nervous, but doubted it. Nothing seemed to ruffle her feathers, and though he’d hated that trait with Whitney—and most women—he found it kind of sexy on Taylor.
“So how do you like it here?” he asked. Anything to find a reason to stay a little longer and maybe find out something about her. Why? He had no clue, when he never really wanted to know more about a woman other than directions to her house after he picked her up in the bar.
“It’s nice. I like it a lot.”
“That’s good,” he said. “Are you getting used to the area?” He knew she’d moved here in February, just a few weeks before she started. At the time he’d interviewed her she’d relocated to the area, but he didn’t ask why, nor could he really during the interview.
“It’s a little cooler than what I’m used to, but I might enjoy the changing seasons.”
“There probably weren’t that many seasons in Florida other than warm, hot, and holy blazing hell,” he said, smiling at her. He at least saw that was where her last job was located on her resume.
“That about sums it up. But so far I’m enjoying spring. The tail end of winter wasn’t to my liking though. How hot will it get here in the summer?” Taylor asked.
He wanted to sit back down but didn’t as that might be pushing it. “Upstate New York averages in the mid-eighties, but it can get in the high nineties or low seventies. Nothing is really consistent.”
“I can work with that,” she said.
He nodded. “That’s good. I think you’ll appreciate it here.”
“I’ve got no plans of moving even if I don’t appreciate it,” she said dryly. He wasn’t sure what that meant and didn’t feel right asking just yet. Damn, there were so many things he wanted to ask her.
“Have a good day,” he said, saluting her and walking out.
“Isn’t he just so freaking hot?”
Taylor looked over at Wendy who shared the office with her. “Who?” she asked.
“Reed, silly. The guy that was just in here smiling and chatting with you.”
“Oh. I suppose,” she said.
The last thing she was planning on doing was looking at any man right now. She was firmly set against men in general. Damn Jack for making her life miserable.
“Are you blind?” Wendy said.
“So he’s good looking,” Taylor said. “If you like the rough around the edges type of guy. He strikes me as a player anyway.”
Wendy laughed. “He never used to be that way, but you hit it right on the head just now.”
Despite her best intentions, she asked, “What changed?” Wendy always wanted to talk or gossip and Taylor felt bad she never gave into it. She never spoke much about her own life and wanted to keep it that way. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt to find out more about the owner since he always seemed to be popping up around her when she least expected it.
Wendy got up and walked into the hallway, looked up and down, and then came back. “I wanted to make sure he was gone,” she said with her voice lower than normal as she sat in front of Taylor’s desk now.
“Because no one wants to be caught talking about it if they can prevent it, but it’s not a secret at all. It’s just you weren’t here when it happened.”
“When what happened?” Taylor asked, her interest piqued. She knew Reed was in line to inherit the business from his father. A huge construction firm that built and sold hundreds of houses a year—and they weren’t small houses, but more like grandiose higher income houses—not to mention remodels. There were a lot of employees and Reed’s father worked out of an office rather than in the field, when he showed up to work at all.
She wasn’t surprised to learn Reed was in the field every day, as he didn’t fit the image of a man to sit behind a desk.
He was tall, just over six foot, dark hair, bright blue eyes that were often smiling, but cloudy at the same time. Like there were hidden emotions that he’d never want anyone to see or even ask about.
Guess she was paying more attention to her boss than she was letting on.
“Reed was engaged. Her name was Whitney Rhodes. A big time ladder-climbing attorney at McKafrey’s.”
“Really?” Taylor asked, not picturing someone like that with Reed. She could see him with airheads and bimbos. Maybe because that was what everyone said he spent his time with. Just because she wanted to stay off the gossip train didn’t mean it didn’t stop around her desk now and again.
“Yeah. Total opposites. Whitney didn’t come around here often. I think they might have been friends in high school or something and when Whitney came back to the area after law school the two of them hooked up and then ended up engaged. Something like that. Not sure the whole story there.”
Which was surprising because Wendy seemed to know the whole story about everything in this building even though she’d only been employed five years herself. “So what happened? Did they have a bad breakup?” She knew Reed wasn’t married.
“No. That might have been better.”
“I can’t believe a bad breakup is better than anything,” Taylor said, having known from experience. Damn Jack again for turning her world upside down. Not only her world but Angie’s too. Not that anyone here knew about her ex or her daughter because she didn’t want them to and had no plans of bringing it up.
“Whitney died a little over three years ago in Bali. She’d told Reed she was there for work and a hurricane hit. The devastation was horrendous. One of the largest death tolls they’d seen in years.”
“That’s horrible.” Taylor paused. “What do you mean she told Reed she was there for work? She wasn’t?”
“No,” Wendy said. “She was there on vacation with the man she was having an affair with. Both of them died when the hotel they were staying in suffered damage. The roof had been ripped off and the water damage and wind caused the structure to collapse. I think it was days before they found her body and that of the man she was with.”
“Okay, that beats a bad breakup,” Taylor mumbled and wondered how Reed could even smile now let alone be so friendly with everyone.
“Yeah. Reed was pretty dark and hard to be around for a good year. Then he slowly went back to the way he used to be, with one exception.”
“What’s that?” Taylor asked, but she had a feeling she knew the answer.
“Women. All he cares about is a good time. He makes it very clear and is upfront, but he doesn’t trust women, he doesn’t want anything to do with any woman who wants a relationship, and if you talk about relationships around him, he walks away. He doesn’t care or want to be around anyone who has what he thought he was going to get and never did.”
“More than sour then?” Taylor asked, surprised she and Reed had that in common.
“More sour than a mouthful of freshly squeezed lemon juice.”