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One fatal car wreck…
Everyone’s lives changed…
Jennifer Larson, having lost her husband, friends and the perfect life she’d had plan, now faces the biggest challenge of her life, moving into an unplanned future. While the rest of the Executive Wife Club is still wallowing in the past, Jen is tempted into the future by a sexy chiropractor, Hagan Chaney.
But does he really love her or is he only after her money?
Friday night, sitting at a booth in a nice, romantic restaurant, Jen silently wished she could enjoy the subdued atmosphere, and order a rib eye steak. Instead, her hands shook and her stomach churned with doubt. The survival skills she’d learned after becoming a real estate agent demanded a calm, composed front, but she couldn’t pull it off.
Hell, who was she fooling?
After ten years without a date, what made her believe she could do this again? She stared at the menu. Could she even swallow a bite of beef? And if not, what should she order?
She lifted her gaze to the drop-dead gorgeous man on the other side of the table. Hagan Cheney, a Greek god incarnated, had strawberry blond hair glowing like gold around his head. Wide shoulders and strong arms were encased in a hunter-green cashmere sweater. Apollo himself wouldn’t look any better.
Why in heaven’s name did he ask her on a date?
And why did she care?
She had no plans other than a casual dinner for two.
He glanced up and a pretty-boy grin crossed his lips. The twinkle in his hazel eyes softened the square line of his jaw. “So have you decided what you want?”
Heat simmered low in her belly. Oh, yeah, answering that question the wrong way could get her into a world of trouble.
Tempted by wicked ideas, Jen blinked and stared at the menu. She’d do better if he didn’t know the wild directions of her brainwaves. “I’m not sure I can eat. I haven’t been this nervous since my first date with Craig.”
Ah, shit, I wasn’t supposed to mention him. Fire burned her cheeks and her gaze popped onto Hagan’s befuddled expression.
“Craig?” Hagan lowered his menu.
“My…uh…husband. He died several months ago.” Jen’s grip tightened on the plastic folder and her heart raced into overdrive. Great, just what she needed to say to start the evening off on the right note. Mention your dead husband and kill the mood.
“Want to call the evening a bust?” she blurted out, angry at herself for failing so miserably at the dating game.
Hagan leaned forward and folded his hands above his menu. “No. I already knew.”
“What? How?” She clenched her hands together under the table. He said he moved here from Texas, having arrived a few months ago to set up his practice and to be near his dad. How could he have found out? Did someone tell him? But who?
“My dad told me. He read about your husband’s accident in the paper.”
“God, you must think I’m awful.”
“Not even in the ballpark as to what I think about you. Because I know you would never have said yes to a night out with me if you’d been happy in your marriage.”
His words hit her like a fist to the face and her head snapped backward, striking the wooden partition between the booths. Wow, how could he have guessed the truth when so many people who knew her hadn’t?
She closed her eyes and searched for an answer. For so long, she’d kept her emotions bottled inside, not allowing anyone to see the loneliness or heartache her unhappy marriage had caused. What now? Lie, or admit the truth?
The vinyl cushion squeaked, and a hand touched her shoulder, pulling her from her stupor. Hagan slipped in beside her, his thigh bumped hers and his arm slid along the back of the seat. In the space of a few seconds, his large athletic body blocked her escape from the confining booth.
Nerves pulsed in an agitated rhythm. She couldn’t sit still and opened her mouth to tell him to back off, but the thin lines of concern marring his brow killed the comment.
“Hey, there’s no reason to get upset.” He cupped a hand over her shoulder and drew her close. “I’m happy you said yes.”
Jolted by his sudden nearness, she exhaled, and then fought to draw air back into her lungs. His crisp, masculine scent acted as a seductive lure, and she had to fight the urge to bury her nose in the curve of his neck.
Another sniff and her resolve weakened. She snuggled deeper into his embrace, savoring his strength, and allowed her cheek to caress the soft fabric of his sweater. Her breasts, crushed against the hard wall of his chest, grew heavy with need. Butterflies flapped wildly in her stomach. Alarms sounded, warning her to pull away.
The sultry voice of the waitress interrupted. “Excuse me. Are you ready to order? Or would you like a few more minutes?”
Swinging her gaze to the willowy, young woman standing at the end of the table, Jen straightened. Heat again stained her cheeks. How could she have forgotten they were in a public place? She had to gain some prespective.
Hagan loosened his hold and addressed the girl. “No, we’d both like the prime rib. And I’ll have whatever you have on tap.”
Jen eased along the bench, struggling with how to handle the situation. She liked Hagan and hoped to keep him as a client, but things were getting way out of hand, way too quickly.
He turned and the space she’d managed to establish between them shrank. “What would you like to drink?”
“A beer’s fine.”
He smiled and answered the rest of waitress’s questions about the side items.
The girl had a ready smile and easy manner. She didn’t flirt or make any improper gesture, but a gleam of interest sparkled in her eyes during the exchange. After gathering their menus, she nodded and checked the order. “I’ll bring your drinks right out.”
She walked away, but Hagan’s gaze didn’t linger on the girl’s butt, an insulting habit Craig had perfected. Instead, Hagan turned and laid his other arm on the table, effectively barring Jen’s exit from the booth. “I hope you don’t mind me ordering for you.”
“No. If I can’t eat it all, I’ll have them boxed up the leftovers and take them home.” She pictured the forlorn look in George’s brown eyes when she crated him before Hagan arrived. Maybe her dog would forgive her for leaving him if she brought him a steak.
What should she do about Hagan at the end of the night? Invite him in or say goodnight at the door with a kiss?
Her gaze naturally fell to his mouth. The idea of his wide, full lips touching hers sparked a shiver of awareness. She rubbed her hands along the length of her arms.
Hagan leaned closer. “What are you thinking?”
Caught fantasizing about him, she dropped her eyelids and scrambled for a safe topic of conversation. “I was…uh…wondering about the other women in your life. Ever been married?”
“No. With school and getting my chiropractor business set up, I haven’t had much time for the ladies.” Hagan grinned and settled back.
Jen drew in a calming breath and eased deeper into the corner, gaining a little distance between them. When he had sat on the other side of the table, he presented an appealing picture of a man she’d like to know, but up close his sexual magnetism cut through her defenses. She had to rein in her raging hormones or she wouldn’t survive the evening without jumping his bones.
“Then tell me about your practice.” She lifted the napkin-rolled silverware and rubbed her sweaty palms on the starched cloth. “I know next to nothing about what a chiropractor does.”
If she could maintain control, she might get through the rest of the evening without another incident.
Short Bio for Tina Gayle
Tina Gayle grew up a dreamer and loved to escape into the world of books.
After years of working in the business world doing a variety of jobs, she decided to try her hand at writing and hope to incorporate the joy of being a mother into her books.
Married twenty-five years, she and her husband love to travel and play golf. She can’t wait for Mike to retire so they can do more of both.
Read the first chapter of any of her books by visiting her website.
Tina Gayle’s Links
Home – http://www.tinagayle.net
Blog – http://www.tinagayle.blogspot.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorTinaGayle
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Linkin – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tina-gayle/11/689/759
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