By day, Aaron Clarkson suits up, shakes hands, and acts the perfect gentleman. But at night, behind bedroom doors, the tie comes off and the real Aaron comes out to play. Mixing business with pleasure got him fired, so Aaron knows that if he wants to work for the country’s most powerful senator, he’ll have to keep his eye on the prize. That’s easier said than done when he meets the senator’s daughter, who’s wild, gorgeous, and 100 percent trouble.
Grace Pendleton is the black sheep of her conservative family. Yet while Aaron’s presence reminds her of a past she’d rather forget, something in his eyes keeps drawing her in. Maybe it’s the way his voice turns her molten. Or maybe it’s because deep down inside, the ultra-smooth, polished Aaron Clarkson might be more than even Grace can handle…
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The security guard at the rear entrance came into view, his familiar hawk eyes zeroing in on Grace. Then Aaron. Exasperation moved over the guard’s features before he hid it by adjusting his earpiece. Activity swarmed on the front side of the building, the media, the shouted questions, the general scrape and hum of movement audible, even where they walked along the backside of the school.
Knowing once they were inside, she wouldn’t see Aaron again, Grace smiled up at him, noticing he didn’t look quite as confident as he had a moment before. “It was nice meeting you,” she whispered. “Thanks for not ratting me out.”
“I…” He smoothed a hand down the front of his ruby-colored tie. “I won’t see you…around again?”
Grace’s hands itched with the urge to burrow into her hair, latch on to the braids she’d completed this morning while waiting for Aaron to show. “Probably not. Why would you?”
Why was he frowning at her? She couldn’t ask him why, since they were within earshot of the guard and the walk had ended way too soon. With a final memorization of his furrowed brow, she transferred her focus. “Hey, Marcus.”
“Grace.” Marcus dipped his chin at Aaron. “Who’s this?”
Her neck grew stiff. “This is my handler for today. He’s new.”
Marcus split a look between her and Aaron, before consulting his clipboard. “No one ran a change in staff by me.”
Grace could feel Aaron’s sharp scrutiny and ignored it, attempting to breeze past Marcus with a casual smile. “I understand. I’ll just go grab my dad, so he can clear it up—”
“No. That’s okay.” As predicted, a harried Marcus blocked her path. “Your father is busy. Just…” He gave Aaron another once-over, lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper between men, as if Grace couldn’t hear every word. “You know the approved areas? Be sure to keep her within them.”
“Yes.” She was impressed when Aaron gave a brisk nod. “Will do.”
Aaron took her elbow and moved them into the back hallway, past the kitchen, where the local Boy Scouts were rushing to mix pancakes and pour them on the oversized, industrial griddle. Once they turned a corner and Marcus was no longer in view, Grace reluctantly tugged her elbow out of Aaron’s grip, rubbing the spot to keep the warmth alive awhile longer. “This is where we part ways.”
Aaron’s way too handsome face was the picture of bafflement. “Who are you, hippie?” The low, intense vibration of his voice made her shiver. “Why do you need a handler?”
She reached back and curled her fingers around the metal staircase handle. The one she knew was there—and where it led—thanks to last night’s expedition. Her intent was to slip away without answering, but after ignoring so many compulsions that morning already, she couldn’t deny the final one.
With a thready apology, Grace shot forward and up, locking her mouth with Aaron’s, memorizing the way his stiffness melted in one big deluge. The way he gave a rough exhale through his nose. That gruff sound that drummed from his throat, a split second before his lips opened, tongue teasing in to taste hers. Just some. The most perfect, slick greeting. The two of them hung there, mouths open, lips wet and fitted together, breath racing, kitchen clamoring behind them.
Two ends of a silk rope pulled taut beneath her belly button, a tempting lick of his tongue clenching muscles she’d never acquainted herself with, nor could she point them out on a diagram. Whoa Nelly. And with her heart slamming against her ribs like a wrecking ball, Grace cut out that snippet of time—so shimmering and unmarred—tucked it into her pocket, and stole down the staircase, wondering how long the memory of Aaron’s kiss would stay with her. Praying the answer was forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans, and laptop, and drove cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend, and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.
She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.