Star Spangled Surprise, Holiday Hearts 3
When a one-night stand with a potential Mr. Right becomes a one-night stand with her new boss set on firing her, Jacqui Ridgeway retreats to Laurel Cove and the security of her family. Will she trust her intuition or will she ignore the signs and hide to keep her heart intact?
A civilian for the first time in twenty years, reconnecting with his family and acclimating to his new life was Ryan McAllister’s priority. He didn’t expect to find the perfect Mrs. Right in his hotel bar. And he didn’t expect to have to fire her when he sees her again. His new mission: find Jacqui and convince her to give him another chance.
Can the two go from lovers to in-love or will a surprise keep them from trying?
“Cheers.” Angled toward her, he raised his glass with a half-smile and took another swallow. Shivers tickled her spine at the single word.
Jacqui tipped her own glass and took a sip, gaze never leaving his. His boy-next-door looks had an edge that made her heart jump a pace. Pale blue eyes, strong jaw, and generous mouth surrounded a not-so-straight nose, giving a hint he wasn’t as wholesome as his looks might have suggested.
“Thank you.” She blurted the sentiment out before she lost her nerve.
His eyebrows inched up and his eyes widened a blink before his smile grew from half to full.
“You’re welcome, I think. Mind telling me for what?”
“For being kind to the man outside, earlier. I saw you talking to a homeless vet. Most people would have walked by. Like me. In a hurry.” She shrugged and took another sip of her drink, willing the jitters shaking her voice to take a hike. “Anyway, thanks for doing what more of us should.” As far as conversation starters went, it wasn’t graceful but was manageable. The man’s intense aura was unnerving yet seductive, and she wanted to get closer. Maybe this is my lucky day.
Sadness tightened his gaze, his smile not reaching beyond the show of it.
“At least you noticed. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
“I’m Jacqui.” She scooted into the seat next to him and held out her hand.
He gripped it with casual attention, but didn’t let go right away.
“Ryan.” Palm to palm, heat burned a path up Jacqui’s arm and sent tiny electric shocks across her skin. A flash of awareness sparked as he slowly released his hold and his focus remained on her face. The energy surrounding them shifted with the knowing that came from a first caress and made her heart flip-flop and her body tighten with anticipation. Dear Lord. She almost giggled as lightheaded giddiness floated through her.
Heated interest replaced the sadness she’d seen. Maybe picking up a cute thing from a bar wasn’t a bad plan after all. Ryan—Good name—was full of pluses. No wedding ring, no bad gut feelings or ickiness factor and totally hot and irresistible. Not that she would jump his bones right there in the bar. Maybe he wouldn’t be interested. She’d take it a step at a time. But by the way he checked her out over the rim of his pint glass, she wasn’t alone in feeling the magic.
“Can I buy you another drink?” His soft question held every bit of the invitation she wanted him to give.
“Definitely.” Surprised at the breathiness of her answer, Jacqui tried to focus her attention on the present instead of the maybe later. “But I’m nursing this one until they bring out some food.”
“I’ve got all night.”