Can't Buy Me Love
It's Tag Crane's job to be the life of the party. Traveling from one exotic locale to another is just part of running the luxurious Crane Hotel empire. But even paradise isn't perfect. Devising a new business strategy is keeping Tag up at night-and so is the Great Dane barking at all hours in the apartment below his. To muzzle the problem, Tag charges downstairs . . . right into the most beautiful, blond distraction he's ever seen.
Dog-sitting by day, bartending by night. It's not exactly the life Rachel Foster dreamed of. But when Tag Crane rushes in, all mountain-man shoulders and obscenely sexy smile, needing her help for the Crane Hotels, it's a fantasy come true. What's the harm in a fun no-strings fling? Only a fool would give her heart to a billionaire player like Tag-until suddenly the one man who can't be caught is the one flirting with forever.
When she reached the door, she pulled her fingers through her blond hair, and decided her visitor had earned the penalty of seeing her sloppy hair, leftover makeup, and pale blue flannel pajamas with a polar bear and snowflake design.
She turned the knob and blinked, stunned.
Holy crap, there is a mountain man at my door.
She was faced with wide, round shoulders. A waterfall of caramel-brown, slightly wavy hair cascaded down his arms. He wore a closely trimmed beard, his mouth flat beneath it. One eyebrow was arched over the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
“Hello,” she managed, before jerking her gaze from his assaulting blues to take in the fitted cream-colored sweater, a pair of gray cargo pants, and laced leather boots.
He was like a sexy city lumberjack.
Oh. That voice. Deep, rich, and low enough that it registered in her belly.
When his eyes dashed away from her face and he smiled, her brain turned to mush. She couldn’t think of a thing to say. Not a single thing.
“There he is. Hey, buddy.” The giant knelt as Adonis meandered through the living room, pausing to do a downward-dog stretch in front of the man’s feet. The dog received a scrub on the head, and she was rewarded with more of her guest’s low voice. “You’re better today, yeah? Sleep okay?”
Meanwhile, Rachel gawked at the two of them. Her appearance was probably less put-together than the dog’s. She ran her fingers through her hair again, making it worse at this point, and straightened her pajama top futilely. There was no escaping that she looked as if she’d crawled out of bed after a late, late night.
The man stood. “Typically, Adonis has had his walk by now, but I didn’t see you at the elevator, so…”
She squinted one eye and finally her brain chugged into gear.
Oliver had mentioned a dog walker, but Rachel had sworn he said he’d postponed the walks while she was staying here. But since he was here, he may as well take Adonis. She wasn’t anywhere near ready to go for a stroll in the snow.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She went to where the leash was hanging—on a hook inside the pantry—retrieved it, and chased Adonis for a few irritating seconds while he turned in circles in excitement. “I took him out at three in the morning, so I’m not sure if he’ll have to…you know.” Dog clipped, she handed the leash to the ridiculously good-looking man at her door. “Do you bring your own poop bags? Or do you…” The man was looking at her like she’d sprouted a third eye, so she swept the topic away with one hand. “You know what? I’ll just grab one.”
She shot him a tight smile, went back to the pantry, and returned with a bag made for Adonis’s business. She offered it to the guy, who was holding tight to Adonis’s leash while the pooch lunged for the elevator. The man didn’t budge, despite the dog’s strength.
“Where’s Oliver?” he asked.
She frowned as she crinkled the plastic bag against her body. “You mean he didn’t tell you? He’s on a business trip. I’m housesitting.”
“You his niece?” he asked after running a long gaze down then up to her face again.
She laughed. “No, not at all. He’s one of my regulars. Odd, right? But we hit it off and he likes me, so…”
The man’s frown deepened, those gorgeous eyes darkening to stormy blue. “I’m not the dog walker.” He offered the leash but Adonis stayed in the hallway rather than coming back inside. “I’m an upstairs neighbor.”
“Oh. Oh my God! I’m so sorry!” Rachel took the leash and wrestled with Adonis, who was much, much stronger than she. He knew it. The dog spread his feet wide and stood his ground on the carpeted floor.
“I suggest you find a way to keep him quiet at night while you’re out. I work from home and I can’t listen to him bark for hours.”
“If I were anyone else, a noise complaint would be in your future. Oliver follows the rules. He wouldn’t like knowing you’re breaking a big one.” That low voice had dropped lower, the reprimand having the dual result of both pissing her off and making her feel a little tingly.
God. I need more sleep.
“No need to be rude,” she snapped. He blinked, surprised. Probably not used to being put in his place.
Look at him. He’s a wall. Who would stand up to him?
Then she remembered his kind smile, the way his hands rubbed Adonis’s flank with rugged gentleness. A shiver climbed her spine at the same time Adonis jerked hard on the leash.
She expelled a dainty “oh!” and lunged forward at the same time the man in the doorway caught the leash in one hand and her against him. Rachel found every part of her from thighs to breasts plastered to the giant’s body. Her palms flattened over two hard pectoral muscles hidden beneath the sweater, her legs bumping his legs, which felt as solid as two marble columns. She tilted her head, met those aqua blue eyes and…and…remembered she hadn’t brushed her teeth yet.
She shoved off his rock-hard stomach, slapping a palm over her mouth. Then she gave a hard tug to Adonis’s leash, who turned with a sigh and paced back inside. Once he was clear of the door, she sent the hard-bodied hunk at the threshold a glare and slammed the door in his face.
Adonis yipped his disappointment at losing the chance to go outside.
“You’ll have to take him out now!” came a shout through the door. “Don’t blue-ball the poor guy after taking him halfway.”
Adonis wagged his tail so hard, he nearly took out a lamp. The hulk at the door was right. There was no way she could turn down the Dane’s pale eyes and smiling pink mouth, perked pointy ears, and lolling tongue.
“Fine,” she growled and stomped for the bedroom. She snatched up her boots and hastily picked out her clothes, feeling both tired and cranky. Yet as she tugged on her coat, she found her mouth curving into a half-smile.
Who was that guy?
About the Author
A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.