Dec 1 2016 1:15pm
Jaci Burton Excerpt: Rules of Contact
A defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers, Flynn Cassidy is used to being in the spotlight—he just doesn’t enjoy it. But if getting in front of the cameras will help his new restaurant succeed, he’s willing. Now if he could just meet a woman who loved him and not his fame…
After her divorce, Amelia Lawrence is thrilled to start over as head chef at Ninety-Two. It’s just the opportunity she needs to heat up her career—if only she wasn’t wildly attracted to her sexy new boss. Their chemistry might be sizzling hot, but Amelia has no intention of being burned again.
Flynn can’t get enough of Amelia, and Amelia loves every second she spends with the tough yet tender Flynn. But trust is a hard-fought battle for both. Breaking the rules of contact and surrendering to their passion was the easy part. Are they willing to risk their hearts to win at the game of love?
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He leaned in, his shoulder and thigh brushing hers. Really, it wasn’t like this was a first for her. She had male employees and worked shoulder to shoulder with them all the time.
The problem was, she wasn’t attracted to any of them. But she was attracted to Flynn and that was wrong on so many levels.
When he’d first hired her, she’d noticed how incredibly good-looking he was, but she knew her boundaries, so she figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Plus, she was so done with men. After her divorce, the last thing she wanted was to get involved.
But recently, something had changed. Watching Flynn choose one wrong woman after another had made her feel sympathetic toward his plight. And when Tara had matched him up with sweet, quirky and intelligent Skylar, she’d been hopeful. But she had to admit it had caused a tiny quake of jealousy, and she hadn’t expected that.
She had felt bad when Skylar had turned out to be more attracted to Aaron. And then she’d felt relieved. One, because that meant Flynn would be free, and two, because Aaron wasn’t a match for her.
Not that she wanted or needed a guy in her life, because she didn’t. Actually, she had no idea what she wanted right now. Not a man, for sure.
Or did she? Because she was sitting next to Flynn going over recipes and she wasn’t thinking about fish. She was thinking how rock hard his thigh was as it pressed against hers, how good he smelled, and how very much she wanted to climb onto him and straddle his lap.
So maybe she did want a man. At least for sex. But Flynn wasn’t the man she should be having sex with.
She sighed. What a mess of contradictions she was.
“So, you don’t like this idea?”
She lifted her gaze to his, realizing she hadn’t been paying attention to a word he said. “What idea?”
“You weren’t listening, were you?”
“Sorry. My head was somewhere else.”
He laid the netbook on the coffee table and picked up his glass of wine. “Tell me where your head was, then.”
Absolutely not. “Oh, it was nothing. Just a problem at work.”
Liar, liar. And her pants were definitely on fire right now.
“I’m your guy, then. What’s going on?”
She gave him a dismissive wave. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
“Talk to me, Amelia. What’s wrong?”
“One of the prep cooks. I’m having problems with him.”
“With his work product?”
“No, and that’s the problem. He’s very good at his job. When he’s there. But he doesn’t show up on time, and he’s left mid-shift twice in the past week, claiming his wife is sick and he’s had to take care of her and the kids. I’m trying to be supportive. Stuff happens. I get that.”
“I take it that it’s not just this past week with him, is it?”
She appreciated that he realized she wasn’t falling for Jeff’s excuses. “This isn’t an isolated incident. Two weeks ago he came in late, claiming his wife’s job had changed and they were working out scheduling issues so he had to deal with the kids and the babysitter and some kind of nonsense.”
Flynn ran his fingertip around the rim of the wineglass. “And you’re sensing a pattern.”
“Yes. Other people have lives and families, too, and they manage to make it to work on time and stay for their shifts. I don’t mind an occasional crisis. We all have them and everyone pitches in and deals with it. But when someone is always late or misses work on a consistent basis, it puts a strain on the rest of the kitchen staff. It’s not fair to them.”
“Have you spoken to him about this problem?”
“More than once. He seems very sincere and says it won’t happen again. But . . .”
“You think this is a personality flaw.”
“Yes. Which means I’m probably going to have to let him go. He’s very talented, has a great personality and everyone likes him. But he’s placing a burden on my kitchen and my staff, and I can’t let that happen.”
Flynn nodded. “I’ll handle it.”
She shot him a look. “No, you will not. I’ll handle it.”
“It sounds like you have more than enough to deal with. I don’t mind.”
“I’ll handle it, Flynn.”
“Okay.” He took her now empty glass and refilled it, then picked up her foot and pulled her boot off, then did the same with the other foot.
She frowned. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Taking off your boots.”
“I can see that. Why?”
“You’re tense. And I’ll bet your feet hurt standing all those hours.”
“I’m used to it.”
He draped her feet over his lap. “But your feet hurt, right?”
“Not much of a complainer, are you, Amelia?”
He smiled, then started rubbing her feet. Oh, God, it felt so good. She wanted to curl her feet into his hands. And maybe moan a little. Which would be very, very bad.
“After a game, it’s like every part of my body hurts. I take a lot of hits, and during the game I don’t feel them. It’s only after, when I allow my body to relax that I feel every hit I’ve taken. My bones ache, my muscles are tight. Hell, even my hair hurts.”
She looked up at his thick mane of dark hair. “Poor hair.”
He laughed. “I know you know what that feels like.”
“Being pummeled on every part of my body? No. I can’t say that I do.”
“But your feet know. And I’m sure your back hurts, too.”
“I might get a little sore being on my feet a lot.”
“There you go. Complain a little, Amelia. Whining is good for the soul.”
She tilted her head to the side. “Is that cross stitched on a pillow somewhere?”
“Hell if I know. I just know it’s okay to say your feet hurt after a long night at work.”
He dug his fist into the ball of her foot, and she sucked in a deep breath, then let it out slowly.
“That feels really good.”
His lips curved. “It feels really good here, too.”
He was not helping her saying things like that. It made her imagine being naked and him using those strong hands on every part of her body.
“But you don’t have to rub my feet.”
“I know I don’t have to. I want to.”
“Flynn. What are we doing here?”
“I’m rubbing your feet. You’re drinking wine. We were talking about carmelized bluefin tuna, but you weren’t paying attention.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m trying to get you to relax, Amelia. Do you have to analyze it?”
“Try not to. We’re just talking.”
“You’re touching me.”
He looked down at her feet. “Technically I’m giving you a foot massage. That’s not really touching.”
She slid a dubious glance at him. “It’s actually more than touching.”
“No. More than touching would be if I slid my hand up your leg, like this.”
She wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad that she was wearing denim when he cupped her calf, then swirled his hand over her knee. And then farther up, his fingers teasing her thighs.
Every feminine part of her wanted to explode. She was pent up, anxious, and so turned on that if he got anywhere near her sex she’d probably have an orgasm.
Wasn’t that what she wanted?
No. She definitely did not want that.
Yes, you do, Amelia. Give in.
She needed to tell her inner sex voice to go to hell, because logic was going to win here.
Copyright © 2016 by Jaci Burton.
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Jaci Burton is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Play-by-Play series, including Unexpected Rush, All Wound Up, Quarterback Draw, Straddling the Line, Melting the Ice, and One Sweet Ride, and the Hope series, including Don’t Let Go, Make Me Stay, Love After All, Hope Burns, Hope Ignites, and Hope Flames.