Lisa Hughey shares a short excerpt from book two,
CARVED IN STONE, from her new romantic suspense series
THE FAMILY STONE.
READ AN EXCERPT FROM
Family Stone #2 Connor
Ava Sanchez scurried toward her desk and cursed her tendency to blush. Luckily, with her swarthy skin tone and her current healthy tan—she'd spent a decent amount of time at the beach this summer—her blush likely wasn't too noticeable. However, she couldn't completely hide her deep embarrassment. When Jack had issued his 'no sex on the desk' command, she'd had no chance to temper her reaction. It was as if he'd reached right into her favorite fantasy and blurted it out to Connor.
She sighed. Connor, who never even noticed her.
Oh, he acknowledged her. He smiled. Said hello. But there was distance in their interactions that she was pretty sure was deliberate. And since they had very few interactions, none personal, she knew he didn't want to get to know her.
Maybe on the outside she appeared as a confident, well-dressed, well-groomed woman, but on the inside she was still that painfully shy wallflower, the migrant worker who didn't quite belong, who squeaked when spoken to and couldn't ever act normal in a social situation.
She'd worked hard to overcome her natural reticence. To learn to be polished and to strive for classy and sophisticated. To eradicate the dust and dirt from the fields and her native Sinaloan accent. She'd come a long way in the last eight years, but she still had difficulty speaking to men she found attractive. And she definitely found Connor Stone attractive.
"Sorry, Ava," Jack called from his office. She knew he was. He was gruff and a little rough around the edges but he meant well. He'd given her a job right out of college and helped her acclimate to a new world with affection and patience. He treated all his employees like family, which meant he frequently didn't think before he spoke.
Jack, she could handle. She grinned. "Expect my lawsuit in the mail," she quipped back, completely at ease with her totally hot boss. And he was. Totally hot. At thirty-four, he was also a little on the old side for her. But Ava wasn't attracted to Jack. He didn't make her girl parts tingle the way his brother did. Jack was like the older brother she'd never had and always wanted.
Jack gave a shout of laughter.
Why had Jack said that? Could he know that she frequently daydreamed about the youngest Stone brother? All the other women in the office were loco over Riley. And no doubt Riley was extremely handsome, smooth, and very charming. He always made her feel feminine and special. But he did that to everyone. Ava preferred the quiet confidence and the understated smarts of Connor Stone.
He was physically intimidating, as big as Jack and definitely as muscular. Since she wasn't a simpering, skinny swizzle stick, but a solid woman with more curves than she'd like and the build of a peasant, Ava appreciated Connor's bulk. She imagined that he would make her feel delicate and dainty if he wrapped his massive biceps around her and cupped her ass in his large palms.
"Hey." Connor stood in front of her desk.
Ava jerked and blinked up at him. She could feel an even deeper flush thunder through her body like a wave of heat. Great, while she'd been daydreaming, he'd been watching her imagine him naked and wrapped around her. "Er. Hello."
"Ignore him. He's an idiot."
And if only he'd shut up then, because that was the perfect place to stop. Instead, he kept going. "Of course we aren't going to...."
Of course. Because no way could a guy that good looking, that smart, that everything, ever want to have sex with her. Ava's temper began to simmer. "Of course not." Her snide tone left no room for interpretation.
Connor looked very uncomfortable as he figured out that he'd just insulted her. "Uhhh, I don't think that came out the way I meant it."
And like that she boiled over. "How did you mean it?" she said sweetly, softly. She blinked at him with her most innocent, wide-eyed, non-threatening expression for the first time truly looking him in the eyes. He had gorgeous eyes, a sunburst of caramel, chocolate and a hint of pale green in a kaleidoscope of color. Tawny, gold, predatory.
He was a very smart man. And he'd figured out that no matter what he said, he was trapped and going to offend her. Like the very smart man he was, Connor backed away. "I meant no disrespect."
If that was the way he wanted to leave it. "Fine."
That stereotypical Latina temper was a stereotype for a reason but she usually left her hothead reactions at the door. She needed this job and most importantly, she wanted this job to atone for the past. It was a bonus that she loved working here. She loved that she was using her degree but also doing some good. GHR was the perfect vehicle for her need to do penance. For her luck in surviving when Maria...Maria hadn't.
He wasn't going to go away until she forgave him for the insult and let him off the hook. Too bad she didn't want to forgive him.
"Sure. None taken," Ava said dismissively, clearly lying. She purposely stared at her monitor and started typing away. Too bad she had no idea what document was open or what she was typing. If he looked at the screen, he would only see gibberish.
Connor stood in front of her desk, arms hanging limply at his sides, half-turned toward Jack's office, half-facing her, as if undecided about what to do next.
She continued to pretend that she was ultra-busy, praying he would go away so that she could run to the bathroom and compose herself. She could hear Jack on the phone in his office, arranging the company jet to be at the Monterey regional airport. Soon.
Connor hadn't left the area by her desk and his presence was beginning to make her sweat. She wondered if Connor was going to use Jack's office while Jack was gone, and if so, how was she going to get any work done with him less than twenty feet away and always just...there? She'd be a distracted mess the entire time.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noted his feet had started moving.
Only he wasn't leaving. He was stalking toward her, literally like a leopard toward its prey. Finally, all she could see was his thick, muscular thighs and the intriguing bulge in his crotch, covered by tan cargo pants, before he slammed his hands down on her desk, his blunt fingers and wide palms flattened on top of the report she was supposed to be typing.
His biceps rippled as he leaned close, his broad solid torso loomed over her and Ava fought the urge to lean away from the clear menace in Connor's pose. "Let's get one thing perfectly straight," he said softly. His face was set in fierce lines, and his multi-colored eyes glowed with fiery intensity.
Ava hypnotically lifted her gaze to his face, overwhelmed by his sheer physical presence. Arousal tingled through her at his proximity and his obvious strength. "Just because I won't, doesn't mean I don't want."
Connor shoved up and off her desk, then strode purposefully away. Ava was struck speechless by his words as she watched the play of his glutes beneath his snug cargo pants. Her heart still beat erratically in her chest and either she'd had a major sugar crash from her hard boiled egg breakfast or all the blood in her head had rushed south to a very under-used body part.
One question kept circling in her suddenly light-headed brain: Did he just say he wanted her?
Family Stone #2 Connor
Publication Date: December 25, 2013
Connor Stone has always been odd man out in his family. Not the oldest, not the most charming, he'd had a lock on the youngest until another half-sibling came to live with them, so he raised hell in his youth. Con knows now the only way to redeem himself is with deeds, not words and sets out to prove once and for all he is worthy of the Stone family. When his older brother asks him to take care of business, Con finally will have redemption he craves. Except when Ava Sanchez, his brother's assistant, is threatened, he must choose between saving the girl or protecting his family. Will his choice bring him love or break his heart?
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