The urge to turn around, march back up the stairs, and give Max a piece of her mind burned low in her belly. She tossed a glare back toward the second floor landing and settled for sticking out her tongue. The childish gesture didn’t help, but it would have to do. She’d swear off manicures for a year before she gave Max the satisfaction of knowing how much his rebuff hurt.
She’d reached the bottom step before she spotted Dan chatting up Tina at the front counter. Her long-time driver glanced her way and, even from a distance, the disapproval on his normally jovial face was unmistakable.
A growl rumbled in her throat as she crossed the fight center. Thanking Tina, she pushed open the door to the sidewalk. Knowing Dan followed, she headed straight for the town car and slid into the back seat. He shut the door and rounded the hood before sliding behind the wheel.
“For crying out loud, I was gone less than ten minutes.” She stared out the window, but in the corner of her eye, caught the dark blue of his suit coat sleeve as he shifted to look back at her.
“I’d be looking at a pink slip if your father learned I’d let you go into a place like that on your own.”
“It’s Max’s place. I was perfectly safe and you know it.” She crossed her arms and shot him a smirk. “And Dad would never fire his number one spy.”
Straight, white teeth flashed in his unapologetic smile, and she turned back to the window. After nine years, she considered the fifty-something retired marine more family than employee, especially since he and his wife, Aurora, had taken up residence on the bottom floor of the three-story condo she’d purchased earlier in the year. A homebody by nature, Aurora was content in her position as live-in housekeeper, and did her best to give Jessi her space. Dan, on the other hand, took his responsibility as driver-slash-watchdog seriously.
“What are you up to, Jess?”
She cut her gaze to his. With her father jazzed up over a couple of letters from a nutty fan, Dan was on full alert. She latched on to Tina’s offer of classes as the perfect explanation for today’s visit and lied without qualm. “I’m thinking of taking some self-defense classes.”
The glitter in his pale green eyes said he didn’t buy her answer for a second, but he shrugged and turned away to start the car. “That’s not a bad idea, but if you want to learn how to defend yourself, I could teach you.”
“I’d rather have Max.”
In order to protect her, they’ll both have to let their guards down…
Country music’s It Girl Jessi Tucker is fed up with her family’s stifling security measures. The threat of a dangerous stalker has gotten the men in her life—including her football star cousin, Tuck Tucker—monitoring her every move. To get the freedom she yearns for, Jessi hatches a plan to recruit Max Grayson, Tuck’s sexy brawler best friend, to play the role of her new boyfriend. But if her scheme works, will she be forced to hide her true romantic feelings for the sake of her independence? Or will she finally steal the heart of her dream man?
Max has been pining for Jessi for years and would do anything to protect her, but a professional cage fighter with too many skeletons in his closet has no business being with one of America’s sweethearts. Yet while Max does his best to keep Jessi at arm’s length, the Tucker family persuades him to accept her offer.
Max believes he can keep Jessi safe from danger, but can he shelter her from his own dark secrets, the media’s unforgiving spotlight—and a mutual desire that’s harder to resist each day?
Wife, mother and really young grandmother, Mackenzie lives with her high school sweet heart husband, a neurotic Pomeranian, and a blind cat. She calls Phoenix home because the southwest feeds her soul. Though her friends claim she’s a princess, she disagrees. After all, one can’t raise two rambunctious boys to wonderful men without getting a little dirt under their nails. A lover of the romance genre, her resolve to share her stories with others was sharpened by a bout with breast cancer. Today she is an award-winning author and eight year survivor, living the dream. Her friends call her Mac. She hopes you will, too. Connect with her at http://mackenziecrowne.com, https://www.facebook.com/MackenzieCrowne and https://twitter.com/MacCrowne.