Baiting the Boss
by Coleen Kwan
For years Grace Owens harbored a secret crush on her boss, Jack Macintyre, the heir to the Macintyre Corporation. But after tragedy upends his life, Jack relocates to a remote tropical island, cutting off all contact with his past. Now Grace’s new boss issues an ultimatum: return Jack to the family fold or pack her briefcase and move on.
When Grace turns up at Jack's bungalow, he can’t deny his attraction to the fiery woman determined to lure him out of his tropical paradise. He lets her bait him with temptation, but little does she know that returning to his old life is not an option—he’s nobody’s boss, and he likes it that way. Grace is playing a game she can’t win.
Or can she? Will Jack give up his island paradise to help Grace keep her job? If he stays, she'll lose her job. But if he goes, she'll lose her heart.
As she turned to float on her back, she spied Jack at the water’s edge and almost went under. He’d taken off his T-shirt, and the sight of his bare, toned abdomen took her breath away. Desire spiraled in her as she drank in his burnished chest with its flecking of hairs pointing straight down into the waistband of his board shorts. His shoulders flexed as he smoothed back his hair, the heat haze bathing him in a sultry, golden aura. He was a demigod, with the power to make her forget who she was.
She’d never experienced such a visceral reaction to a man before, and it scared her. What would happen if they got too close? If he kissed her again, she wouldn’t be able to resist. Swiveling away, she dived underwater and kicked her way through the crystal-clear water.
But why should she resist? They were both single, unattached. Why shouldn’t they kiss as much as they wanted? The idea sent her corkscrewing to the surface. She popped up and refilled her lungs, treading water. Jack shot up with a splash not far from her.
“You took off like a tadpole.” He flicked the hair away from his eyes. “Where are you going?”
Away from temptation. “Uh, nowhere in particular.” She felt for the bottom of the pool, but found only more water.
In a couple of strokes he was right in front of her. “I can stand here. Hold onto me.” As she glanced nervously at the bulk of his shoulder, his eyes twinkled. “I don’t bite, you know.”
Oh, it wasn’t his bite she was afraid of. She placed a hand on his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“On the other hand…” His eyes sparkled even brighter. “The eels in this pool have been known to nibble.”
“Eels!” She grabbed onto him with both hands, casting a jittery look at the still waters around them.
A low chuckle rumbled in his chest. “Just kidding. They don’t bite.”
“But there are eels?”
“Small ones only, and they’re shy.”
She couldn’t suppress a shudder. “I don’t know whether to believe you or not.”
“Would I lie to you?”
“Probably. You’re a man, aren’t you?”
His teeth gleamed white. “Glad you noticed.”
How could she not notice? Then she realized that Jack’s arm was around her waist, and she was clinging to his shoulders. Eels weren’t the only danger here. Far more dangerous was the way their chests were stuck together, her breasts pushing up against the water-dappled wall of his chest.
She swallowed and noticed he was breathing heavily, too. Up close in the brilliant sunshine, she could see every detail of him, from the fascinating specks of violet in his gray irises, to the black stubble peppering his chin, to the faint quirk in his lips. A tiny muscle pumped in his jaw, an indication that her proximity was affecting him, too.
“I told myself I wouldn’t do this again,” he muttered, almost talking to himself.
“Do what? Joke about eels?”
“Yeah, that too.” Using his free hand, he traced a finger down the curve of her cheek. The unexpected tenderness in his gesture made her senses leap. “You’re going home tomorrow.”
She nodded, unable to speak.
“And I won’t see you again. At least, not in the foreseeable future.” He smoothed back her hair, tucking a wet tendril behind her ear. “It wouldn’t be fair to take advantage of you.”
He was talking as if she were still a naive young graduate. “Maybe I’m the one taking advantage of you.”
His eyebrows shot up. His hand stilled on her cheek. “But you’re…”
“A grown woman able to make my own decisions.” When it came to men she’d always been too shy to make the first move, but Jack made her feel so different, so sensual and wanton. She wanted him, right here and now, and she couldn’t think of a single reason to hold back. “Also, a very horny woman right now.”
What is your writing environment.
I mostly write at my desk which is set up in my bedroom. I’d love to have a separate study, but that dream will have to wait until my children leave home! My desk is quite small and gets cluttered quickly because I’m not a very tidy person. But it does have a nice, leafy view looking down on my little backyard and the trees in the neighbouring gardens. When I need a change, I take my laptop downstairs to the kitchen and set myself up at the table. I’m then close to the kettle, teabags, and chocolate biscuits!
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My perfect hero is someone who is strong and protective yet also funny and tender. I think we all want our heroes to be stalwarts, and at the same time we want them to be light-hearted and not too serious.
Which authors have caught your interest lately? Why?
I recently read Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story, and really enjoyed it. I loved how the author slowly revealed the aspects of her characters both good and bad, and I also enjoyed the settings of her books, which are largely set in Sydney, my hometown.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
Okay, I have a confession to make: I would love to be able to write a really clever and complicated murder mystery with lots of twists and turns. Unfortunately, my brain simply can’t come up with clever, complicated murder mystery plots. Instead, my brain is always thinking up romances, so I have to go with the muse!
What’s the last movie you watched and loved?
On a recent plane trip I got to watch The Blind Side and loved it, despite the fact I have no clue about American football. Sandra Bullock is one of my favourite actors, and I’m glad she won an Oscar for her role in that movie.
Top three things on your bucket list
Live in New York. Own a beach house. Write a best-seller.
How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
I’ve always liked fish-out-of-water stories and romances involving unrequited love, so I combined the two themes and came up with a heroine who hates traveling who is forced to journey to an island paradise in order to find the man she once had a crush on.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
Difficult question! I think my favorite is the one where the hero and heroine are forced to share a bed. They try to keep things clean, but when they fall asleep they have no control over what they dream, and then that dream begins to turn into reality...
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
A dinner, a movie, and some chocolate. Yep, it’s the simple things in life for me!
If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be?
I would either like to do something luxurious and relaxing, like a river cruise down the Rhine and the Danube in a five-star stateroom, or I’d like to do something more strenuous like walk the Milford Track in New Zealand. Spectacular scenery, gorgeous sunsets, and a cosy bed at night—what else do you need on a romantic trip?
Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance and steampunk romance.
Coleen lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching Criminal Minds.
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