Isabelle Ballantine has been fighting for independence since she was old enough to walk. Now that she’s finally out from under her father’s shadow, she won’t let anyone stand in her way. It’s tough living on her own, working in a bar and keeping her true identity a secret, but things start to look up when a sexy new stranger walks into her life. After working side by side for weeks, Izzy can’t figure out why he won’t make a move.
To cinch the deal of a lifetime, Adam Marcellus agrees to help Izzy’s eccentric father convince his daughter to move home. He’d assumed Izzy would be another spoiled rich princess, but he’s surprised to discover his feelings for her are stronger than anything he’s ever experienced. When a deranged stalker targets her, Adam finds himself fighting not only an unknown threat – but an unexpected attraction to the one woman he can’t have.
Adam kicked his truck into gear and followed Izzy out of the parking lot. The back of her silhouette was outlined by his headlights. Not that it mattered. He saw her face every time he closed his eyes.
The vision of her interrupted his sleep on a nightly basis. She usually kept her wild curly hair pulled back at work, but the few times he’d seen it down left him imagining what her long hair would look and feel like against his skin as she rode him.
He rolled his shoulders once, trying to alleviate the tension, but nothing worked. With her dark brown eyes and high cheekbones, she had almost exotic features. The smattering of freckles across her nose only added to the innocent quality about her. If it wasn’t for her fair coloring, he would doubt she was even Edward Ballantine’s daughter.
Edward. He cursed the day he’d ever made that ridiculous deal with him. It had seemed so simple at the time. Keep an eye on Isabelle without her knowing his true identity. Five weeks. That was how long his contract was. It was icing on the cake if he could convince the rich daughter to return to Savannah, but as long as he did his job and she was safe, he and his brother would land the Forester deal.
Not so simple once he met her. Watching out for her certainly wasn’t a chore. Unfortunately convincing her to return home was impossible without getting to know her. And he still didn’t understand why she was working in a bar barely making ends meet when she had a father like Edward Ballantine. Her father had been fuzzy on those details, but he planned to find out.
As he steered into the parking lot of her place, he pushed those thoughts away. He needed to focus on the present and convince her that Savannah, Georgia, was a much better option than Coconut Bay.
Parking wasn’t numbered, so he chose a spot next to her. By the time he’d rounded his truck she was still sitting in her car. Leaning against his vehicle, he waited until her door finally opened. Sinfully long legs emerged first. His breath caught. It seemed no matter how often he saw her, he still fantasized what it would be like to have those slim legs wrapped around his waist…and shoulders. Damn, and she was wearing pants. He hadn’t even seen a hint of skin and his cock was already raring to go.
A shudder racked his body. Now was not the time. Hell, there was never going to be a right time for his thoughts. He’d been hired to protect her, not drool over her.
“Sorry, I was talking to Carolyn.” Izzy shut the door behind her.
“No problem. Is she okay?”
“I guess so. She wouldn’t tell me what was going on, but she apologized for not showing up tonight.” Izzy tucked her phone back in her purse, but kept her keys in hand. “Thanks for making sure I got home safe.”
He ignored the comment and took a few steps toward the three-story building, forcing her to follow. After what had happened tonight, he was walking her to the door. Her place was on the second floor, but technically he wasn’t supposed to know that. He knew a lot about her that she hadn’t told him. Like the fact that she had a bachelor’s in business development, but a master’s in medieval literature.
To say the woman was a mystery would be a sore understatement.
“I’m on the second floor.” She motioned straight ahead with her hand as they walked down the short sidewalk. “Are you working tomorrow morning?” He already knew the answer, but didn’t want her to know he’d checked her schedule. This had to appear impromptu.
“No. I am tomorrow night though.”
“Do you want to get some breakfast after the staff meeting?” Something primal inside him sparked to life when her eyes flashed with desire. If she was anyone but Edward’s daughter, he had a feeling they’d already be inside her place and naked by now. Not because that was his style, but because it was obvious she wanted him as much as he wanted her.
She turned to face him as they stopped in front of her door. “Sure.”
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow so we don’t have to worry about leaving your car at work.”
Her brown eyes widened slightly, but she nodded. “Sounds great.”
He guessed she was surprised because up until now he’d kept his distance. Without thinking—or maybe not caring—he reached out and tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. The overwhelming need to touch her sometimes scared the shit out of him. Being close to her sometimes wasn’t enough. Her work uniform consisted of black pants and a black tank-top. Something so simple shouldn’t be sexy, but with her long legs and lean frame anything she wore was guaranteed to drive any man with a pulse crazy.
When she sucked in a deep breath, he realized he was practically cupping her cheek. And the heated look in her dark eyes told him she wanted him as badly as he wanted her. Warmth spread throughout his abdomen. Things could get out of hand so quickly if he let them.
All he’d have to do was lean down a fraction… He dropped his hand and took a step back. “See you tomorrow.” Instantly his body mourned the loss of touching her.
If the way her mouth pulled into a thin line was any indication, she felt the same. Wordlessly she turned away from him and let herself inside her apartment. Only when he heard the lock slide into place did he leave.
Once he was back in his car, he let out a long breath. What the hell was the matter with him? He had to be all kinds of stupid to touch her like that. Getting involved with Izzy—Isabelle Ballantine—was not an option. Not only was she so far out of his league that it was beyond laughable, she wasn’t the sort of woman a man had a fling with. She was the forever kind of woman, and a woman like her wouldn’t settle down with a man like him. He was straight blue-collar working boy and she was class and money. It was just the way of the world.