Rough Fascination - Melissa Schroeder

Rough Fascination

Book 2 in the Rough 'n Ready Series

Part of the Harmless World

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Previously Released as
A Little Harmless Fascination

A Little Harmless Fascination
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new epilogue, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!

Wanting her isn’t smart, seducing her is inevitable, but falling in love could be downright deadly for both of them. 

Security expert Conner Dillon isn’t a man who often takes a vacation. So when he’s ordered to take a month off and his sister insists on a trip to Hawaii, he isn’t happy. That all changes the moment he sees his landlady Jillian Sawyer, he realizes he might have just found someone to occupy his time.

For years, Jillian has had a crush on Conner. Now an erotic romance author with a thing for Doms, she finds herself beyond intrigued by the man. He is good to the core, but there is something else darker in him that calls to her.

After one night in bed, they both find themselves addicted. In Jillian, Conner has found the perfect partner. For her, she has found someone she can trust completely. Falling in love wasn’t on the itinerary, but walking away is impossible–especially when they realize someone wants Jillian dead.

» WARNING: This book contains an uptight security expert who prefers schedules, a romance writer who does not. Tattoos, a trip to the Aloha Swap Meet, two hunky neighbors who irritate our hero, and of course, a trip to every Addict’s favorite club. Ice is recommended as any Harmless Addict will tell you, but the author takes not responsibility if the reader becomes overheated.

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Rough Fascination

Book 2 in the Rough 'n Ready Series
Part of the Harmless World

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Rough Fascination

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Maura Dillon pushed open the door to the ER as she shook off Zeke’s hand. The smell of the hospital still had her head spinning. She hated it, hated the way it made her feel. She remembered sitting in a similar ER years ago, waiting for her brother to show up and knowing that her parents were dead. The smell of antiseptic still made her want to puke.

A large hand clamped down on her shoulder, and she shook it off.

“Don’t fuck with me, Zeke.”

She heard the exasperated sigh and ignored it. The only thing she gave a damn about was getting to Conner. Of course, Zeke just kept following her.

“Love, if you go in there screaming at him, it isn’t going to help.”

She stopped in her tracks, drew in a deep breath, and looked at him. “Being gentle and sweet hasn’t worked.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “You’ve been sweet?”

She rolled her eyes. “Have I bitched about him working eighty hours a week? No, I just let it go. I saw how bad he looked, and I let it go. I suggested vacations, weekend trips, and taking a fucking day off. Did he listen to me? No. And now look what happened.”

Without waiting for an answer, she turned on her heel and walked up to the attendant window.

A woman who looked to be in her forties was writing something down as slow as a turtle. Lord, her nerves were jumping beneath her skin. Her stomach was tied in knots. When the woman finally looked up at her, Maura said, “I’m here to see jackass Conner Dillon.”

The woman’s lips twitched. “I take it you’re his sister?”

She nodded.

“He’s in room four, second door on the left.”

She hit a button and a buzz sounded. The doors swung open, and Maura hurried through them. Fear and anger churned in her gut. With each step, her anxiety increased. He was the only person she had left in the world. They had each other and that had been enough. When she’d gotten the call from the ER doctor, everything had stopped. She might not have many close friends, and her romantic relationships were embarrassingly few and far between, but she could not lose Conner. It just could not happen. When she reached the door, Zeke stopped her.

“Take a deep breath, Maura.”

She closed her eyes and did just as Zeke ordered.

“The doctor told you he’s going to be okay, so take it that way. If you go in there screaming like a banshee, he’ll get even more stubborn.”

She nodded and opened her eyes. “We’re in agreement, right? He has to take a month off.”

Zeke nodded. “Sure. I’ve got my mate Rory coming over to help us out. Conner is going on vacation.”

“Whether he likes it or not.”

Chapter One

How the fuck did I end up here?

It was the only thought that came to mind when Conner Dillon looked around the small quarters. It wasn’t the fact that it was sparse in amenities that bothered him. He didn’t like clutter. Actually, he liked the little apartment. It had a small kitchen and eating area, with a no-nonsense bathroom and bedroom. He had a big house in Miami, but this suited him just as fine. So his irritation wasn’t about the living area—it was about the location. There was only one person in the world who could get him to Hawaii when they had a big job in LA to handle.


It only took one freaking doctor telling her that Conner’s chest pains were a sign that something was seriously wrong, and that Conner was heading toward a heart attack, for Maura to breakdown. After losing both of their parents when Maura was only a teenager, she had freaked. And this time, his best friend and business partner Zeke had turned on Conner and sided with Maura. Bastard. There had been no fighting the two of them.

Now he was in fucking Hawaii.

“Is there something wrong?” the sultry southern voice asked from behind him.

He turned and looked at his new landlady for the next month. Jillian Sawyer was a contradiction in terms. Her voice spoke of her upper-middle class upbringing in Atlanta. Whenever he heard her speak, he thought of hot summer nights and necking on the back porch. He’d been feeling uneasy since she’d opened the front door.

The tattoos down her arms and braided hair, along with the nose piercing, would be a shock to most people. The light cocoa skin brought out her sea green eyes, and she was graced with the most amazing bone structure. Most people wouldn’t suspect she had one of the highest IQ’s of her graduating college class—or so his sister had told him. Her dress didn’t fit with her upbringing. A worn out T-shirt cupped her abundant breasts and stopped just above her pierce navel. Her jeans were just as worn, hung low on her hips, and clung to every damn curve.

She cleared her throat, and he realized that he had been staring at her for several moments without saying anything. He tried to ignore the way his blood was starting to heat and smiled at her.

“No. The space is good.”

Her lips twitched. “Don’t overwhelm me with your praise, Conner.”

He hadn’t missed the sarcastic tone, and he was pretty sure his sister had acquired it from her the two years they’d roomed together at the University of Georgia.

“Sorry. I just don’t like mandatory vacations.”

“From what your sister says, you don’t like vacations at all.”

He could tell she was fucking with him. There was always a look in her eyes that warned she was in a mood. He should let it go because it would start out as flirting and end with them yelling at each other. But, right at this moment, he didn’t want to. Something was urging him to tease her.

He opened his mouth to respond but her cell phone rang out the University of Georgia fight song.

“Speak of the devil,” she said before answering. “Yes, your big brother is here, and he’s fine. I understand the FBI taught him how to get around on planes. And, seeing that he’s an old man, he knows how to drive. He made it all the way over here to my little oasis without getting lost or running anyone over.”

She was silent for a moment or two, and Conner could just imagine his sister rattling off instructions.

“I’m sure it was very serious. Of course, bugging him constantly is going to end up being worse for him. He came here to rest, so you need to let him do it. Do you want to talk to him?” Silence again. “Okay, well you get some rest and behave.”

She hung up and gave him a cocky smile.

“Your sister is concerned.”

He rolled his eyes. “Tell me about it. I can’t believe she talked me into coming here.”

She shook her head. “What a shame. You have to spend time in Hawaii relaxing. Quit being such a whiner.”

Before he could respond, there was a shout from outside.

“Jillian, love, what are you doing in there?”

“Give me a second.”

She turned and headed toward the door. After flinging it open, she settled her hands on her hips.

“What do you want, Mick?”

“Adam and I are going for a ride. Wanna come with?”

She shook her head. “No, I have a new tenant to attend to. You two have a good ride.”

She shut the door and turned to face him. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans and tapped her thumbs against the fabric. “Well, what do you think?”

“I already said it was a good space.” He noticed her fidget, and Jillian didn’t do it that often. He didn’t know much about the woman, but he did know this was a sure sign she was nervous. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her nervous before. Not like this.

“Cool. I have some work to do, so if you can handle settling yourself in, I need to get back to it.”

He cocked his head to the side and studied her. He had known her, or known of her, for about ten years, but he realized then how little he knew about her.

“You just told your friend you couldn’t go for a ride because you would be helping me.”

Her cheeks reddened. “I don’t like lying, but I have a deadline breathing down my neck. Mick and Adam don’t understand about that. They think being a writer is just all fun and games.”

“Isn’t it?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t have time for your fun and games, Agent Dillon.”

He shook his head. “I’m not an agent anymore.”

“You will always be Agent Dillon, overprotective brother and the talk of the dorms to me.”

“Talk of the dorms?”

She laughed. “It was embarrassing to Maura, but you were the subject of much gossip when you came to visit. Anything else?”

He shook his head.

“I should finish my edits tonight, and if you want a tour of the island, I’ll be happy to do it. Tomorrow. Afternoon. No, after one.”

He nodded. “I have a feeling I’ll crash for a while.”

She gave him one of those sultry smiles that had been driving him crazy since he’d arrived.

“Call if you need me.”

If he didn’t know better, he would have said she was being suggestive. While she flirted with him sometimes, he had never really taken it seriously. There was a barrier there she put up for all men. In his relationships, he needed something more. Submission from a partner did not work if the partner did not completely trust him…and he had a feeling Jillian trusted few people. Especially men.

Before he could respond, she turned and walked out the door. He couldn’t help but admire the way her jeans molded to her very generous ass. Once the door shut, Dillon looked around the small living space. It was humid and hot, even with the windows open. He knew before coming that the place didn’t have AC, but even living in Miami didn’t prepare him for this.

He sighed as he opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. Jillian had said not to worry about having any groceries at first, and she had been right. There was bread, some milk and a few eggs, along with several bottles of water. He twisted off the cap and took a long drink. Glancing at his suitcase, he realized that for once he would wait to unpack. It wasn’t like him, but hell, maybe he should revel in the vacation.

Before he knew it, he’d finished off the water. He tossed it into the recycle bin Jillian had in the kitchen area. The thought of Jillian brought up her image in his mind. He wondered just how many tattoos she had and just where they led to.

He shook his head, amused with himself. It was a testament to just how tired he was that he was fantasizing about Jillian. The woman had no schedule, led a completely bohemian lifestyle, and was friends with his sister. She might as well be wearing a big sign that said “Off-Limits.”

Conner rolled his shoulders. Damn, he was still hot. He grabbed his suitcase to find something to wear for the night but first, a cold shower. Hopefully, it would help cool him off…and take his mind off his luscious new landlady.

* * *

Jillian groaned when she heard the knocking on her door. She had been up until after two in the morning working. It was Conner Dillon’s fault. He’d broken her concentration the night before. Not because he was a new tenant, but because he was Conner. Sexy Conner. But she’d gotten the edits back to her editor, and she had a week off before she had any other new work to do. Her back still hurt from the hours hunkered over her laptop. Even just rolling over hurt. She would definitely need a massage this week, or she would end up spending the next two weeks working the kinks out.

She buried her head and prayed whoever it was would leave. She was sleeping in, dammit. It couldn’t be important, not really. If it was, someone would call her. More than likely it was some lost tourist. So many of them came to Hawaii thinking that all the inhabitants of the islands worked for the tourism board. While she normally didn’t mind, today was just not the day she could be an ambassador of aloha.

Finally, the knocking stopped. She sighed and was almost back to sleep when the knocking started up again.


She got up out of bed, barely able to see. She squinted at the clock. Dammit, it wasn’t even nine am. She was going to kill someone. First, she would torture them slowly, until they begged for death. Then, she would kill them. With some effort, she stumbled to the front door.

“You’re dead,” she said as she opened the door. She found Conner on the other side.

Great. This was exactly what she needed. Her hair was a mess, and the man who had broken her concentration the night before was here bright and early.

“I’m sorry, but you said to come by around noon or one?”

She blinked at him. “It’s not even nine.”

He frowned and looked down at his watch. God, the man was gorgeous. Even in her beleaguered state, she could appreciate him. She always had. From the first time she’d met him, she had been intrigued. All that muscle and brawn packed into one delectable package was too much to resist. Throw in that he was so protective of his sister and he was downright irresistible.

Until he opened his mouth.

“It’s way past noon.”

She frowned at him, realizing he was being serious. Jillian grabbed his hand and pulled him closer. She looked at the watch.

“You forgot to change the time.”

He blinked at her with those steel gray eyes. Damn, how could a man have such impossibly long eyelashes and look so masculine?


“You’re five hours ahead there, Dillon. Didn’t you notice?”

He blinked again then looked down at her hand which still had hold of his. Heat sizzled up her arm, throughout her entire body. She released him and took a step back.

“I can’t believe I didn’t change my watch. Or that I didn’t notice it’s only nine in the morning.”

She couldn’t either. She’d lived with Maura in college and considered her a close friend, but she didn’t know Conner that well. But what she did know was that he was always on time. He was on top of things and took control of just about every situation there was. This was just not normal for him. Now she was starting to understand why Maura was so worried.

“Sorry I woke you, I’ll let you go.”

She wanted that. She needed that, seriously. Her brain wasn’t working properly. Little sleep, and now her brain had been sex sizzled by the former agent. But he was Maura’s brother, and the man looked completely lost there for a second. Maura had told her that he hadn’t been doing that well, but Maura tended to overreact. Still, there was no reason to be a complete bitch.

“Come on in. I’ll make some coffee.”

He hesitated as his gaze traveled down her body. She looked down and felt heat flare in her cheeks. Dammit, she was wearing an old T-shirt that hit her mid-thigh and nothing else.

She cleared her throat. “I’ll get dressed. Come on.”

He smiled, and she felt her heart do a slow roll. “You don’t have to get dressed on my account.”

Her cheeks got even hotter, but she ignored it. “Do you want some Kona or not?”

He nodded. She stepped back and allowed him into her home. The moment he entered her space, she knew it was a mistake. Her house was just the right size for her. But with Conner in it, it seemed small, almost miniature. He was a big man, about six foot four. She was no featherweight, but then she figured the muscled god now surveying the area for intruders also had the kind of presence that was bigger than normal.

“I’ll get the coffee started. This way,” she said with a nod of her head toward her kitchen. He followed her in.

“Your part of the house isn’t that much bigger than mine.”

She glanced at him, wondering at the tone. Shrugging, she grabbed the coffee canister and started measuring the grounds out, dumping them into the basket.

“I don’t need much space. I guess if I lived with someone, it would be different.”

He leaned against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “How so?”

“I need space to write. I need privacy. If I was living with someone here, it might be disastrous. I’m sure there would be a death.”

He smiled, and again, she felt heat spike through her blood. Damn, the man was making her melt right there in her kitchen. She hoped it was just the lack of sleep. Until now, she had never even felt the urge to act on the attraction. Sure, she had fantasized. Any heterosexual woman in her right mind would. He was the stuff she wrote about in books. Confident, sexy, and she had a pretty good idea that he was a Dom. Those three things had her imagination working overtime, and for the first time, she went beyond thinking about what it would be like. This was not a good development with him being in Hawaii for a month.

She turned on the coffee pot. “I’ll be right back.”

He nodded, keeping his attention on her but saying nothing. Dammit, why did she like that? There was something different about him, something that was making her want to giggle like a freaking teenager. Maybe because he was looking at her differently than he ever had before.

She scooted out of the kitchen and headed to her bedroom. God, it looked like a cyclone had hit her room. She must have been really lost the last couple of days working on the book. Clothes were all over the floor and draped over the chair. She sighed, opening the dresser drawer and pulling out a pair of faded cutoffs and a T-shirt. Dammit, she thought, and she opened her lingerie drawer and grabbed a bra and a pair of panties.

Five minutes later, she was dressed, her teeth brushed, and she had her braids pulled back with a do-rag. With a deep breath, she walked out to join Conner again.

He was looking out the front window, a mug of coffee in his hand. His expression told her he was thinking of more serious things than his crazy landlady’s penchant for sleeping in shirts and nothing else. He looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. It had always been like that as long as she could remember. He had shown up at the University of Georgia that first day with Maura, acting like a bulldog, daring anyone to say anything mean to his sister.

He had been the talk of the dorm. She hadn’t been lying about that. Girls had done everything to catch his attention, but his main focus had been Maura, and in that she had admired him. She wished she’d had someone looking out for her like Maura had all those years. Strong, dependable, sexy. Okay, she wouldn’t have wanted him for a brother…but a lover? Maybe. She had a feeling he had a real dominant streak and that was something she liked in a man.

For the first time in months, she felt stirrings of attraction. He wasn’t her type. She liked a dominant man, but Conner was over the top. Plus, she was sure that a man like him would never be interested in a pierced and tattooed erotic romance author who ran on no schedule. Still, it didn’t mean that she couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the man. It was a shame that he’d chosen to wear jeans and a shirt today. She could just imagine what he looked like without a shirt. Hell, now that she thought about it, she wanted to see him like that. No shirt, a pair of board shirts, water dripping down his chiseled chest…

“Are you going to keep staring at me, or are you going to get some coffee?” he asked. He hadn’t turned around, but he must have realized she had been staring at him for a while.

“I was just thinking that Maura was really lucky to have you growing up.”

He turned and looked at her. “I doubt she’s thinking that at the moment.”

She shook her head. “You really can’t blame her. You scared her.”

He shrugged, and she could see why Maura said she wanted to throw things at him sometimes. He said nothing and turned around to look out the window, sipping his coffee.

“You might want to get some coffee, Jillian. You’re looking a bit peaked.”

She chuckled. “You don’t know the half of it.”

Shaking herself out of her stupor, she headed to the kitchen. She needed to quit drooling over her new tenant because nothing was going to happen with him. It would be a mistake—a total idiotic act—to sleep with him. He was a man that could fulfill her needs, and she would lose her friend in the process. She didn’t have many women friends, but Maura was a constant in Jillian’s life.

She poured her coffee then took a sip, hoping the caffeine would jolt her head out of the gutter.

“So, what do you plan to do with me?”

The steamy liquid caught in her throat and she began coughing. When she finally caught her breath, she looked over at him. He was smiling at her and sipping his coffee. Now she knew he was messing with her.

Jillian picked up a napkin and wiped her mouth. “Do with you?”

“Today. You said you would show me around. You haven’t changed your mind, have you?”

“No. I promised Maura I would keep my eye on you.”

His smile widened. “That’s interesting.”

She rolled her eyes. “I thought we could drive around, maybe pick up some lunch?”

“That sounds like a plan.” Then he surprised her by winking at her. “For now.”

He turned and walked out of the kitchen leaving her completely aroused and thoroughly confused.

End of Excerpt

Rough Fascination

by Melissa Schroeder

is available in the following formats:

Rough Fascination

original release date: Jul 17, 2017

Harmless Publishing
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new epilogue, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!
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