Chance MacGuire has always had good luck. Great childhood, great career and hell, women are easy for him. Except for Patience Sawyer. The woman is a list maker. Hell, she makes lists of her lists. Chance likes to go with the flow and see where he ends up. He hates schedules. But when she proposes they open a bed and breakfast together, using her business savvy and his culinary skills, he jumps at the chance. Now, if he can just keep his hands off her, they’ll be fine.
Patience is sure she’s lost her mind. Asking Chance to buy the Rosedale Plantation with her and open their B and B sounded like a great idea. Forget the fact that he doesn’t like following her business plans. That she can handle. But after the hottest kiss she has ever had, keeping her mind on work and not on him, is hard. Although his laid back style should turn her off, she is immediately drawn to him. His easy going manner puts her at ease and they find themselves as perfect business partners.
When too much time spent alone together has their hormones in overdrive, and they can’t resist each other, will they be able to forget their differences and find love?
This short story has been expanded and edited.
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For the first time in memory, Patience Sawyer failed to live up to her name. She stared down at the map and realized it would be no help. You have to know where you are to get to where you’re going. Dammit. This was all Chance’s fault. If her business partner had finished packing his household goods on time, they would’ve come here together. She wouldn’t be lost. Granted, she had been to the house three times already, but she had followed someone there each time. Add in her horrible sense of direction, and she was bound to get lost.
She sighed and studied her surroundings. The two-lane highway looked familiar, but there were no real landmarks to help her. Like that would help her. Trees and swampy looking land. There was a good chance some kind of critter was slithering around outside of her car.
She pushed that thought aside and rolled her shoulders trying to loosen her muscles. She knew she held a lot of tension there when she was irritated. And she was beyond that. Maybe if she were proficient in shooting things like all of her brothers, she wouldn’t always be so stressed all the time. But she was better with lists. Life was more relaxed when it all went as planned.
Unfortunately, this venture wasn’t going the way she planned. When she’d found the Rosewood Plantation, on the auction block, she knew it would be perfect for the bed and breakfast she’d wanted to open. It was a sizeable antebellum home that people would love to visit. It was as if all the stars aligned except for one thing. But she’d been years away from having enough money saved, so she’d approached the head chef of the Atlanta hotel she worked at. She knew he had enough money. Plus he was a world class chef. Chance had jumped at the idea to move back to South Carolina, and within weeks they were proud owners of the mansion.
Then the problems started. When Patience had approached him with her schedule, he’d smiled and then disregarded everything she’d said. He took weeks to put his house up for sale. And when she wanted to discuss plans for the remodeling, he went on vacation to Miami with Barbara, the big-boobed hostess. She wasn’t mad because he picked the antithesis of Patience to go frolic with at the beach. Jealousy was a waste of time and besides, to be jealous she would have to be interested.
And she wasn’t. Not in him.
Okay, so he was a good-looking guy. Who wouldn’t sneak a peek at a man built like running back for the Falcons? Especially when he looked so hot in an apron. Maybe she had thought a time or two or three, of running her fingers through all that golden-brown hair. Or wonder what those big artistic hands would feel like against her skin.
Dammit. She had to stop doing that. It was insane to lust after him. He took nothing seriously especially not her. He always mocked all of her notes and her orderly way of doing things. She was water, and he was oil. They would never work as a couple. Besides, she wasn’t ready for a relationship with anyone.
She glanced around and noticed that the sun was fading fast. If she didn’t get on the road quickly, she would be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, in the dark. After restarting her sedan, she noticed a convertible approaching behind her. An uneasy shiver tingled down her spine as the car slowed to a stop.
Silly. Someone was stopping to make sure was all right. To be safe, Patience pulled out her cell phone and powered it up. If they thought she was connected to something else, it might make the serial killer who was surely driving the car
The car pulled alongside and stopped. Trying not to be obvious, she slanted a look out of the corner of her eye to find Chance McGuire grinning at her. Irritation replaced her apprehension as she rolled down her window.
“What are you doing here?”
She didn’t mean to sound like a bitch, but she’d been lost for the better part of an hour, and nothing was going right. And, dammit, she was hungry. When she was hungry, she tended to be mean. Really mean.
His lips turned down in a mocking frown. “I thought I was here to save the day.”
She gritted her teeth then reminded herself that this was business and she could be professional. And professional was not sticking out her tongue at him. She was tempted, oh God, was she tempted. But she was a professional. If she repeated the word enough, she might believe it to be true.
“I seem to have lost my way.” Did his lips twitch? “I thought you were planning on taking an extra week to pack up.”
“Took less time than I thought and made a killing on the house.” He smiled, and both dimples winked at her.
Figured, knowing Chance’s luck, he probably made enough to pay for that fancy convertible he drove. She’d never known another human being on earth to have his kind of luck.
“Do you know where we are?” she asked.
“Yeah, in fact, if I’m right, the house is up around the bend here.”
“I’ll follow you.”
“Ah, Ms. Sawyer, that’s music to my ears.”
He saluted and took off, leaving her in a cloud of dust. She waved her hand in front of her face and, knowing he couldn’t see her, stuck her tongue out at him. Whatever made her think that opening a B and B with Chance was going to be easy?
* * *
Chance parked his Thunderbird in the circular drive just ahead of the stone steps so that Patience could park in front of them. He wanted to make sure she didn’t think he was a total ingrate. It was hard not to tease her when she got all prissy. She’d pursed those full, kissable lips, her eyes would narrow, and his blood would heat.
Damn. He had no idea why he was so attracted to her. She wasn’t his sort of woman. The first thing was, she had a brain. Oh, women with brains were okay, but it usually got complicated when they expected more than a good time. And if it made him shallow, so be it. He was only twenty-five and wasn’t ready to settle down.
He got out of his car and watched as she carefully drove up the path and parked a reasonable distance from him. The woman had too many rules, another reason to stay away from her. She’d be a great business partner, but a bed partner…nope is not going there. Because each time he did, he thought of what it would be like to unknot that fabulous length of raven-black hair and strip off her clothes. His hands itched to figure out a way to persuade her to use those pursed lips on him. As like every time before, a jolt shot through him all the way to his cock.
Sighing and cursing his inability to ignore his reaction to her, he watched her step out of the car. Girly. That’s a term he would use for her. She was of average height, with high cheekbones and gypsy eyes, the color of milk chocolate. Her skin was light brown—he knew she’d gotten that from her mother–but the rest of her looks came from her Native American father. The overwhelming humidity did nothing to ease the crispness of her white tailored button-down shirt, which she wore tucked into a pair of loose-fitting jeans.
There was always an air of femininity to her. Even when she was blasting the bellhop for not doing his job, making the man almost piss his pants, she looked womanly. It probably had to do with her D-cup breasts and round ass.
Jesus, he sounded like a jerk even in his head. It wasn’t just her shape. It was also the way she moved. There was an air of femininity about her no matter what she did.
To get his mind off the woman, he looked at the house. She’d been right. It was perfect. It needed a little work, but the front gardens were overflowing with roses and impatiens, every color of the spectrum, and he wondered who had been keeping them from drying out in the summer heat. Several wooden rockers littered the porch as if someone still lived here.
“Gorgeous, isn’t she?”
A mixture of excitement and satisfaction filled Patience’s breathy statement.
He looked down at her. A long, silky lock of her hair had escaped her chignon. Curling his fingers into his palms to resist the urge to touch it, he nodded.
“Yes, I like it. Not too far off the beaten path, but far enough to have a quiet stay. You know what would be great–I mean, once we get going–is weddings. This place is big enough to house most of a wedding party.”
She turned to look at him, her eyes widening in surprise. “That’s a great idea. I was out here once in the spring. It was beautiful here at night.”
The last rays of the summer sun brought out the reddish highlights in her hair. The sound of her voice, so wistful, washed over him. He wanted to hear that voice in bed, between sighs and moans. The urge to touch her had him moving towards the house, away from her. He’d hoped his week with Barbara in Miami would have cured his itch, but less than ten minutes in Patience’s company and he was ready to strip her naked.
“Do you have a key?” He didn’t turn around but waited for her to follow after him.
“Of course I have a key.” The soft dreamy quality was gone, and the affronted businesswoman was back. Patience didn’t forget the details. Ever. That was probably why he was always trying to fuck with her plans.
He looked in the window and noticed that furniture still occupied the room. Impeccable cherry wood gleamed as the weak sunlight danced through the window. A shiver of apprehension shimmied up his spine. Something akin to panic set in his gut. He took a step back and shook away the feeling.
“Are you coming?”
Patience stood in the doorway, looking at him as if he were an idiot. He rubbed his damp hands on his jeans and nodded. He ignored the tendril of cold that seemed to seep into his bones as he crossed the threshold.
“The electricity was done last week.”
She flipped a switch and for a second nothing happened. The cold in his bones dropped a few more degrees. In the next instant, the lights came on. Chance swallowed and tried to settle his stomach. His head whirled with images of people. People he didn’t know. They wore clothing from a different era. Soft, southern, feminine voices whispered through the air. Female voices. Arguments. Crying. The sounds spun around him as his body grew colder. He would swear he felt the chill to the deepest part of his soul.
“Chance, are you all right?”
Her voice drew him back, even as he felt the pull of the mystical world that flowed around him.
He shook his head twice, and the voices and images faded, and Patience’s face came into view. She was standing directly in front of him. Her brow wrinkled in concern, and her lips turned down in a frown. Chance drew in a shaky breath and tried his best to smile reassuringly.
“That was a long trip up from Atlanta.” His voice shook, and he cleared his throat. “I thought you said there was electricity.”
“I thought you were going to pass out.”
Irritation crawled up his spine. He never had and would never pass out. And for a woman to even suggest it… Okay, that was a little chauvinistic, but damn, he wasn’t used to women making statements like that.
“It was nothing.” He was thankful his voice didn’t shake this time.
Patience’s lips flattened into a straight line, but she dropped the subject.
“There was probably just a glitch.”
She reached around him and hit the switch again. This time the lights turned on, but he didn’t notice. When she reached around him, she’d leaned closer to him. The fragrance of jasmine tickled his nose. Damn, she smelled like the sweetest thing. The scent wrapped around him and heated his blood. The image of her wearing nothing but perfume popped into his head.
Before he could make a fool out of himself, she straightened, offering him a wary smile.
“Want to see the rest of the house?”
He couldn’t speak because he had no blood in his brain, so he just nodded. As he followed her down the hall, his gaze fell on her jeans-encased hips, and he sighed. A cold shower and a case of beer might help him clear his mind of strange happenings and uptight women.
End of Excerpt
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