BLURB: Aspen Starr is in a bind and not in a good way. His father is trying to use him to sweeten a business deal and being a bought boy toy holds no appeal. Just when he thinks he has no options left Sundae’s Custom Easter Baskets knocks at his door. Soon he finds himself blindly following a trail right into the path of a sexy new boss and a whole new mess of carnal complications.
Garren Thomas has rules and one of those is to never get involved with an employee. Easy to say, harder to enforce when Aspen is hired on. With each passing day Garren’s control slips until all he wants to do is spend his days with Aspen in his bed. When faced with giving into his desires, Garren sees his simple life being torn apart. Can he get Aspen out of his system without losing his heart? Aspen isn’t much better off. He is drawn to Garren, but he can’t help the fear that the secrets from his past will destroy it all. As Aspen’s begins to lose himself within the confusion of sex and love one question plagues him: who sent the basket?
EXCERPT: Garren pushed away from the wall and into the light of the lobby. “Looks like I missed out on a lot.”
Aspen ducked his head and went to his desk to dig around in a drawer. The first time Taylor had sent him shopping for office supplies, Aspen had bought random sheets of kids’ stickers. On the rare occasion Taylor performed child evaluations, a little bribery to bring out good behavior never hurt. Aspen came away with two sheets of fairy stickers.
“Not too much. We’re working on crowns and a new kingdom.” Aspen swerved around Garren, his eyes twinkling. “Do you want a crown?”
Garren narrowed his eyes on Aspen. He put his hands on Aspen’s shoulders to stop him and leaned in to whisper, “That was low. There’s no way I can refuse those pixies. I’m going to end up with a glittery, construction-paper crown glued to my head, aren’t I?”
Aspen looked over his shoulder. “Don’t worry there won’t be glitter on yours. I’ll be the queen,” he murmured with a grin. “So you’ll need to fill the role as king.”
Garren shook his head. “You’re trouble.”
Aspen shimmied to dislodge Garren’s hands. “You just figured that out?”
With a resigned sigh Garren followed him.
“Girls, I found someone else who needs a crown,” Aspen declared, gesturing at Garren.
The tykes jumped up and down. Garren fought the urge to reach out and hug Aspen for giving them this moment of levity even at Garren’s expense.
Aspen held out the stickers, and the enthusiasm magnified until the girls were dancing around the room. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” the girls chanted in a singsong fashion.
A softly murmured, “Oh my,” came from behind Garren.
Garren turned to yet again see the shimmer of tears in Mrs. Burgett’s eyes, but a smile accompanied the moisture.
Aspen grinned back at her. “I hope you don’t mind. The girls have been fantastic. We’ve managed to make crowns and bracelets.”
“Even for you, Mommy,” one of the twins piped up and ran over to Mrs. Burgett to carefully hand her the items as though they were made of glass.
Mrs. Baker cradled them. “Thank you, Maryann.”
“Becca and Mr. Aspen helped,” Maryann replied.
“And we ate apples and cheese crackers,” Becca added.
Garren looked briefly at Aspen. He’d seen Aspen eating the same things earlier in the week.
“That was very nice of Mr. Aspen,” Mrs. Burgett said with a hitch in her voice. “But we have to go now, girls.”
“Oh,” the girls replied with exaggerated pouts on both their faces.
“Say thank-you to Mr. Aspen,” Mrs. Burgett directed.
Both girls ran over to Aspen and threw their arms around his waist. “Sorry we didn’t get a chance to make your crown,” Becca said.
“That’s fine, sweetheart. I’ll be sure to make a matching one when you leave,” Aspen assured her.
“You need to make two,” Maryann interjected. “One for the big king behind you. That way we’ll know you’re helping rule the kingdom even if we can’t see you.”
Garren wanted to pick the girl up and hug her. Tell her that everything would work itself out and she’d never be hurt again. While it was a possibility if Mrs. Burgett went through with the charges, he wouldn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.
“Thank you, Mr. Aspen,” Mrs. Burgett said. “You don’t know how much I appreciate you taking care of my girls.”
“You’re welcome,” Aspen responded.
Maryann and Becca skipped over to their mom, and grabbed hold of her hands as they exited the office.
Garren stared after their retreating backs. He grimaced at the tattered clothes and worn shoes. His jaw clenched, and he pivoted and stalked back to his office. The lump in his throat threatened to shatter his control of his emotions. He made it through the door, placed his hands on his desk, and breathed deeply. Mrs. Burgett reminded him of his mother.
Aspen lightly touched his back, and Garren jerked around to gaze at him.
“I know you’ll do all you can,” Aspen confided.
“And you?” Garren cracked and cupped Aspen’s face with one hand. “You gave those little girls your lunch and made them laugh. You took away their stress and let them be kids.”
Aspen glanced away. “I did what anyone else would do. They deserve to have as much joy as every other child.”
“You’re wrong. Not everyone would do what you did. I think most would have set them in the lobby and spent the time telling them to be quiet.” Garren had seen that reality time and time again.
Garren caved and leaned in until his lips were mere inches from Aspen’s. “You are so beautiful.”
Aspen didn’t back away. His breath came faster, and his eyes flashed with that same glow Garren had seen in the past.
“Garren,” Aspen whispered with a thread of uncertainty.
Garren brushed his thumb over Aspen’s full lower lip, and desire zinged through his body when Aspen’s tongue peeked out to trace the path. Garren’s brain screamed what a huge mistake kissing Aspen would be, but at that point he wasn’t being ruled by his head.
AUTHOR BIO: I’m a born and raised Oregonian. I’ve traveled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill my books. My ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories both sexy and humorous. It gives me a great excuse to do some crazy stuff in the name of research. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where I find my peace.
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