I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love Rebecca Zanetti! Her next book, Sweet Revenge, comes out today in paperback and having read it, I say get this book!!! I reviewed the book here some months back, I believe.
The One Man She Can’t Have
Matt Dean was born to fight . . . and kill. A member of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be the perfect soldiers with an expiration date. Now, with time running out, he’s gone rogue in a relentless quest for the one person who can save them. His mission leads him to Charmed, Idaho . . . and to a beautiful woman with eyes like emeralds and a body made for pleasure.
The One Woman He Can’t Resist
Laney Jacobs knows the mysterious, handsome stranger is trouble from the moment he walks into her bar, looking for a job. She’s spent years running from her own past-the last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement. But Matt’s strong arms offer her protection and his gentle touch promises passion unlike anything she’s ever known. As lethal forces surround them, revealing explosive secrets about Matt’s past and putting everything-and everyone-he holds dear in danger, can he save them all before time runs out?
“You know you work for me, right?”
“Listen, lady”—red spiraled across his high cheekbones—“you hired me to bounce problems, which I can’t do if your sweet ass is in the way.”
Was that a fact? She took a deep breath and settled on the only solution other
than kicking him in the shin. “You’re fired.”
Both of his eyebrows shot up. “Excuse me?”
Satisfaction tilted her chin. Not much probably surprised Matt Dean. “You’re fired.” As an exit line, it nailed the situation. Unfortunately, the toned soldier stood between her and the door. Just who the hell did he think he was? “Now move your sweet ass.”
He slipped his hands into his pockets and leaned back against the door. As a move, it was intimidating. “Why am I fired?”
“You leave much to be desired as an employee.” She eyed him, assessing the situation. Nope. The guy might be commanding, but she wasn’t scared. He wouldn’t hurt her. “All you’ve done since being hired is flirt with customers, order me around, and kiss me.”
His chin lowered. “Which of those items is pissing you off the most?”
She narrowed her eyes as heat spiraled through her abdomen. “You can flirt with any dumb bimbo you want, and frankly, the kisses were all right. But ordering me around? Not a chance.”
“All right? The kisses were all right?”
Figured the man would focus on that. She forced herself to lift a shoulder. “Eh.”
His cheek creased, and his eyes warmed. “Maybe we should try again, then. See if I can do better.”
“No.” The spit in her mouth dried up. She hadn’t meant to challenge him… had she? “I don’t, ah, kiss fired employees.”
“So that leaves Smitty.” Matt grinned.
“Very funny.” The tension slowly drained from her muscles in response to his instant humor.
He exhaled slowly. “Listen, I’m sorry if I scared you.”
“I’m also sorry if I was too bossy.” He rubbed a hand through his hair. “It’s just, after being in combat, orders come naturally. Seeing you, somebody so small near danger… well, it hits triggers. All sorts of triggers.”
She could handle him bossy or charming. But sweet and honest? She shook her head and gestured toward his hard body. “You’re just… too much.”
He chuckled. “If you give me another chance, I promise I’ll tone it down. All of it.”
She’d be a fool to let this guy get close, but she knew better than to make a snap decision based on one moment or one emotion.
She studied him. Earnest eyes, relaxed shoulders, apologetic half smile. If he was working her, he was damn good at it.
Yeah, she liked him. Not only the look of him, but the self-effacing humor and ease of saying he was wrong. Most Alpha guys like him never admitted to being wrong. He’d had no problem with it.
Plus, she needed a bouncer, and he could certainly bounce. The tickle at the nape of her neck promised something bad was coming, and facing it with a guy who wanted to protect her? Probably not a bad idea, so long as he understood the rules. While she wanted to convince herself she was making a business decision, there was no doubt her feelings for him went beyond personal. But she could handle her own emotions. “Fine. One more chance, but if you order me around again, you’re out of here.”
“Fair enough.” He opened the door.
Heat brushed her as she moved past him. “If I ever get lost in a snowstorm, I hope you’re there,” she muttered under her breath. The guy cascaded warmth.
“Huh?” Matt asked as he shut the door.
“Nothing.” She shook her head and headed back to the bar to get to work. What would life be like if she could flirt a little and even hope for a future? One with a husband and even kids? But there were no kids in her future.
She plastered on a smile and began helping Smitty with drinks. The weekend chef manned the kitchen to prepare bar food, so she didn’t need to cook that night.
The evening slid into closing time, and she shut the outside door with a sigh of relief. As usual, she double-checked the door locks and extra stoppers placed into the floor. The bikers had filled her till as well as the tip jars. “It was a good night.” She smiled as she tossed a bar rag toward Smitty.
He caught it and grinned, lines fanning out from his bloodshot eyes. “Cleanup was quick. Ready for inventory?”
“No.” She jerked her head toward the kitchen. “We’re done for the night and will do inventory another time. Go home and get some rest since tomorrow night will be busier than tonight, probably.”
He finished wiping down the bar. “You do look tired, boss. Feeling all right?”
“I’m fine.” The flush filling her face resulted from Matt’s loping in from the kitchen and not from any illness. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”
“Good enough.” Smitty nodded to Matt on his way out. “Night, all.”
“Night.” Matt crossed broad arms. “Did I hear something about inventory?”
“Yes. I’ve got it.” She reached under the bar for a notebook. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
His smile was slow and way too sexy. “We could get it done in half the time if we worked together.”
Well, at least he’d stopped issuing orders. She studied him for a moment. While she felt like she could sleep for a week, he looked up for running a few miles. Her eyes were gritty and her neck already ached, promising a headache would soon arrive. With her efforts in becoming part of the town and trying to learn how to make friends, she’d been working on accepting assistance and not being so alone. She really could use the help tonight, stubbornness aside. “Okay. Follow me to the storeroom.”
A small room with a sexy ex-marine after midnight? What could possibly go wrong?
Life would be easier if Matt could view the petite bar owner like a family member or even an employer, but as he watched her deliver another pitcher of tea to the women gathered around the table, he realized that was impossible. She laughed at something one of the women said, and his cock hardened. Again.
The woman had spunk, intelligence, and a heart-shaped ass. Of course he wanted her naked and sweating beneath him. That confused as much as irritated him. She was the exact opposite of what he usually looked for in a woman. Temporary, tough, and unemotional worked best, and the idea of being with someone soft and kind scared the shit out of him.
Laney was right to keep him at a distance.
The new phone he’d purchased early that morning buzzed, and he glanced down at his first text message of the day. Nate had texted that he was safe and would check in later. Relief relaxed Matt’s shoulders upon reading that his brother was all right. The guy hadn’t been out on a mission for years, and Matt had been worrying about him. Maybe Nate would finally heal from falling in love and being betrayed.
If anybody could throw a dose of cold water on Matt’s desire to pursue Laney, it’d be hard-assed Nate. He perceived only black and white, danger and safety. There was no safety in seducing Laney… for anybody. She wasn’t the woman Matt needed to find in Charmed.
Plus, as much as the idea turned Matt’s stomach, if he had to seduce the elusive Dr. Peters to secure her help, to save his brothers, he’d do it.
Of course, the family practitioner was the one woman who wasn’t sitting around the table. He’d paid special attention to the coroner and the veterinarian’s assistant, and the vet’s assistant was currently checking him out behind wire-rimmed glasses. Bright eyes showed intelligence and an interesting wariness. He shot her a smile.
Her cheeks pinkened, and she half turned to talk to the woman on her right.
Laney, sitting across from the vet, instantly shot a look his way, delicate eyebrow arched. He met her stare evenly, pleased when her high cheekbones filled with color. The fact that she kept his gaze with challenge in her eyes, even while blushing, pleased him even more. The polite thing to do would be to grant her a reprieve and look away.
Too bad he wasn’t a polite guy.
Laney should learn not to challenge him.
Her chair scraped back, and she muttered something to her friends and then calmly maneuvered around tables toward him, hips swaying… keeping his gaze the entire time. His shoulders went back, and his blood started to hum. Who was this woman so full of surprises?
She reached him, her eyes sparking in irritation. “Would you please stop turning the most successful businesswomen in town into simpering morons?” she whispered.
He blinked. Damn it. He focused down a foot at her irritated face. “What in the world are you talking about?”
Her body remained relaxed, but he could hear her heart thumping, and her expression was quickly transforming into anger. She kept her face angled away from the women at the table. “Stop smiling, stop flirting, and do your job.”
He lowered his face just enough to make her eyes widen. “You sound jealous.”
Ah. There was the fury. “I’m not, you jackass. Keep the charm in your pants, and stop flirting.”
Okay. He may have poured on the charm with the two women he needed to investigate, but he’d been trained in subtlety and covert action. “Why are you suddenly interested in what’s in my pants?”
Laney’s gasp heated him in all sorts of places. “If I have to tell you again to knock it off, you’re fired.”
The little spitfire had better be careful who she threatened. “So you want me unavailable to those women?”
Satisfaction filled her pretty face. “Exactly.”
“Okay.” He grasped her hip and covered her mouth with his. The kiss was hard, quick, and enough of a taste to make him crave more. He lifted away to gauge the shock on her face. “There. Now they think I’m taken.”
The air vibrated as her hand closed into a fist, and he shook his head. “You don’t want to hit me.”
“Why not?” she ground out.
For the first time, he let his mask slip so she could see the predator the government had created. “The second you make contact, I’ll have you on that bar, held tight, my cock pressed between your legs, my lips on yours until you beg for more. Even fully clothed, I may make you come—and I won’t care who’s watching.”
Her sexy mouth dropped open. Surprise and fury lit her eyes… along with desire. She tried to mask it, but he was an expert at reading people, and the woman was intrigued. “You egomaniac. I’m not remotely interested,” she whispered.
Surprising anger shot through him. “You want to threaten me? That’s fine. Challenge me? No problem.” He stepped even closer and into her space. “But don’t you ever lie to me. Ever, Laney.”
She pressed her hands against her hips, confusion blanketing her features. “We just met.”
The woman was correct. He had no right to demand a damn thing from her. For all she knew, he was a bad guy. But this once and with this woman, against all rational training and thought, he truly didn’t give a shit. He didn’t understand it, sure as hell couldn’t explain it. So he went with his gut. “Yeah, we did just meet. Those are the ground rules. Period.” He lowered his chin and waited for her to challenge him, anticipation lighting his veins.