A seductive proposal, p.1
A Seductive Proposal, p.1Caris Roane
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About the Author
Also by Caris Roane
A Seductive Proposition
A CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION
By Caris Roane
Copyright © 2013 by Caris Roane
All rights reserved. No part of this eBook may be reproduced in whole or in part, scanned, photocopied, recorded, distributed in any printed or electronic form, or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without express written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Published by Caris Roane at Smashwords
Welcome to my first contemporary romance, A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION.
As a writer, I’ve always enjoyed exploring different genres and as many of you know I’ve been published in Western Historical Romance, Regency Romance, and Paranormal Romance, though not all under the pseudonym Caris Roane.
When I first started thinking about the book that became A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION, I knew I wanted to set it in the red-rock buttes and hills of Sedona, Arizona. Having lived in Arizona for over twenty years, and visited Sedona many times, I thought the unique geography and lifestyle of the Sedona high country would make a fascinating backdrop for a contemporary romance.
A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION follows the owner of Jumpin’ Jeep Tours, Carly Grayson, as she strives to fend off handsome Quint Barron’s bid to take over her family’s winery. To my knowledge, no such company exists, though several jeep tour outfits operate in the region. I named the company “Jumpin’ Jeep Tours” because whether out in the surrounding desert or climbing up Schnebly Hill Road to the Mogollon Rim, these Jeeps jump around a lot.
If you ever have a chance to visit Sedona, I highly recommend a Jeep tour, especially the one that goes up to the Rim. You’ll see extraordinary back canyon country and hear lots of great information about our unique Arizona landscape.
I hope you enjoy Carly and Quint’s journey as they face up to the demands of an all-consuming passion, complicated by his determination to steal Carly’s winery from her and her effort to hold him at bay.
For more information about Caris Roane and Valerie King: www.carisroane.com.
“You want me to do what?” Carly Grayson slapped her rust suede gloves against the palm of her hand. She owned Jumpin’ Jeep Tours and was ready for her next tour, but she wasn’t sure she’d heard her office manager right. “You’re saying you want me to hit on one of the tourists.”
“He’s the man for you,” Tina responded, clacking away at the computer. She paused then smiled. “I get feelings about this kind of thing. That’s why I made certain he’d be on your tour.”
Carly glanced out the glass doors of the lobby but the holding line for the tourists was just far enough away that she didn’t see the man Tina referred to. There were at least twenty people ready to hop into Jeeps and have a look at some of Arizona’s amazing red rock country, her last tour of the day.
She shook her head. “A tourist. You want me to go out with a tourist.”
“Were you thinking I meant someone permanent? Heck, no. He’s just supposed to be your next hook-up.”
Carly blushed. She hadn’t meant to, but Tina often said the most outrageous things. She glanced behind her, but fortunately the Jumpin’ Jeep Tours lobby was empty. “My next hook-up? You know I don’t have one-night stands.”
Tina Clark faced the world with the subtlety of a firecracker. She had short spiky blond hair and fiery green eyes. When she wasn’t sitting on a tall stool, she stood on a wood box behind the counter to make up for her lack of height.
She leaned back in her tall swivel stool behind the counter. “Carly, you need to get back in the game. If you mope around here one more day—”
“I do not mope,” Carly interjected.
“All right, maybe mope is too strong a word, but I see the way you sometimes sit at your desk and stare out the window.”
“I have a view of some of the most magnificent red buttes in the world. Why wouldn’t I be looking out the window?”
Tina gave her a squinched-up look that meant she didn’t believe her for a second.
Carly rolled her eyes. “All right, so sometimes I long for a man. What single woman doesn’t?”
“Well, you don’t have to long one more day because he’s here on your tour, and if you take my advice you’ll ask him to strip for you.” Speaking out of the side of her mouth, she added, “If I weren’t married, I’d have the pants off him quicker than a flash of monsoon lightning.”
Carly popped her hat down on her head and tucked her gloves into her belt. “Any other advice, Dalai Lama?”
Tina laughed. “No, but there is one more thing you need to know.” She picked up a piece of paper and glanced at it. “A guy from Hunter Enterprises called about fifteen minutes ago asking for ‘the owner of Jumpin’ Jeep Tours’. You were working through the new medical plan so I said you weren’t in. You know, I don’t think he even knew your name. Anyway, he said he’d give you a shout tomorrow morning. Apparently, he’s in town for a couple of days and wants to meet with you about the winery.”
Carly stared at Tina. “I thought I already made it clear to them that I’m not interested in selling.” She had inherited Red Canyon Vineyards less than a year ago and had spent a fortune over the last ten months refurbishing the whole property.
Tina shrugged. She clacked on the keys a little more.
“Did he leave a name?”
Tina grimaced. “Sorry. I had three lines blinking and I had to deal with an email. His cell broke up and I didn’t catch it. Harry something or maybe it was Blooker.”
Tina shrugged. “Sorry, but the phones and emails have been crazy this morning.”
Carly’s temper soared. “Well, why didn’t you tell him I didn’t want to see him?”
“Hey, what are you yelling at me for?” Tina wouldn’t take that kind of nonsense from anyone, not even her boss.
Carly drew in a deep breath. “Sorry. I’m just edgy. This hasn’t exactly been my week.” She’d learned three days ago that her ex-fiancé had not only remarried but had spawned a beautiful baby boy.
“You thinking about Jeff?”
She huffed a sigh. “Yeah.” Three years of her life wasted.
“Please don’t tell me you’re worrying that you made a mistake. He had nothing on his mind but what he wanted.” She glanced at her computer screen, read through a couple of lines then reverted her attention to Carly. “Wait a minute. Is Jeff the reason you haven’t been dating all this time? You can’t still be in love with that jerk.”
“He wasn’t a jerk.” Carly lifted a hand to keep Tina from arguing the point, then continued, “But no, I’m not still in love with him, not even a little.” And she meant it. “I think it’s more that I stopped trusting myself where men are concerned. I thought Jeff had it all and look how wrong I was.”
Tina nodded, her hands now on her lap
“Well, that hiccough lasted three years.”
Tina leaned forward and grabbed her wrist. “And I for one am glad it wasn’t a second longer. You deserve someone so much better than Jeff. Yes, I know we differ in our opinions about his character, but I stand by my belief that he wasn’t worthy of you. Now, it’s time for you to get back in the game and the starting quarterback is about as hot as they come. So, go and, you know, tackle him.”
Carly rolled her eyes again. Maybe it was time to get serious about dating, but she felt like a player with no uniform, no turf time, and she’d forgotten all the calls.
She straightened her shoulders. One thing she did know, however, was how to give a good tour. She grabbed her clipboard from the counter then headed to the door.
At least grinding a Jeep up Schnebly Hill Road to the Mogollon Rim would help settle her nerves.
She opened the door but paused as the wall of late June heat hit her hard. She loved her life in the beautiful red canyon country of Sedona, but the summers were hot with a capital H. She crossed the pavement to the Jeep bay.
She glanced at the roster. Four Japanese names and two others, Brad Hansen and Quint Barron. One or the other of those sounded familiar. Oh, yeah, Hansen-Barron. Harry Blooker? She smiled.
She looked up from the clipboard. Then she saw the man Tina had been talking about and Tina had so not been kidding. She had never thought a man could be better looking than Jeff, but here he was.
Sweet merciful God.
He stood over six feet and his eyes were as blue as the high-country sky above. She couldn’t breathe very well as her gaze slid over broad shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist. He wore fine tailored navy slacks and a short-sleeved maroon shirt that partially revealed powerful tanned biceps. His arms were corded with strength. There was no doubt he worked out, a lot. She couldn’t say why, but she had a sudden impression of a mountain lion, lean, powerful, a predator.
He talked with his friend and didn’t see her right away. Her heart fluttered in her chest. He was the kind of man that should be bottled and sold in grocery stores to starved females.
He ran a hand through his thick wavy black hair. He laughed at something else his friend said, who in turn murmured words that sent the man shifting to look in her direction. His lips parted. He seemed surprised as he met her gaze.
Something primal struck deep into her abdomen. Desire, wanton and profound gripped her. Where was this coming from?
She struggled to draw breath as a slow, understanding smile drifted over his lips.
She tore her gaze from his and glanced down once more at the roster.
She scrambled to get air into her lungs. Her vision blurred as she scanned the list of names. She shook her head and eight years of experience took over as she moved to stand in front of the group of six men. She introduced herself as their tour guide. She called out each name and checked them off her roster. The mountain lion was called Quint Barron.
She liked the feel of his name on her lips.
“You’ve chosen the right tour,” she said, trying not to stare at him. “Sunset on the Mogollon Rim might just change your life.” She gestured toward her Jeep. “If you’ll follow me, we’ll put this beast on the trail.”
The gorgeous man caught up with her. His scent assaulted her, rich earth mingled with citrus, but she couldn’t tell if it was a cologne or just him. She had to open her mouth to catch a breath. Whatever the source, his rugged scent thrust images deep into her mind of tangled sheets, grasping limbs and panting bodies. Dizziness slid through her head and her knees threatened to disappear.
Who was this man?
No wonder Tina had been so enthusiastic.
She flipped the passenger seat back to allow the tour to hop in. Quint—already she thought of him on a first name basis—yes, Quint allowed his friend and the four Japanese tourists to climb aboard the roomy, open-air, U-shaped seat.
She shifted to pull the seat forward, but he was before her. He curled around her body and grasped the seat himself. “God, you smell good,” he whispered. His eyes closed and his nostrils flared.
Ah. The scent-enjoyment-thing was mutual.
When he opened his eyes, his gaze caught hers and held tight.
She drew in a sharp breath and only at the last second refrained from putting her hand on his chest. Her gaze dropped and stayed for way too long on his oh-so-sensual lips. “You’ll like riding shotgun,” she said at last. Her words came out crushed.
He lowered his voice about an octave. “Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”
Her heart rate skyrocketed as she met his clear blue eyes once more. She released a breath, which skipped out of her throat. Her lips parted. He touched her hand. Sparks flew off his fingers and pierced her skin.
He smiled and nodded, a single slow dip of his chin.
Desire pooled between her legs. She had one regret at this moment, that there were five other tour guests, all buckled up in the back seat, ready to be driven to the Rim.
If Quint had been alone, she would have driven him straight to her house.
Damn, Carly. Get a grip.
She drew her hand from beneath his fiery fingers and took the long way around the back of the vehicle so that she could calm down.
What was she thinking?
Oh, she knew what she was thinking—his body, her bed.
But she never had one-night stands.
As she took her seat behind the wheel, she worked her gloves on and spoke in her tour-guide voice. She told everyone that the first mile or so would take them back through town but after that they’d hit an oil-pan-gouging road, littered with boulders and bouncing would be the order of the day. “We’ll be climbing two thousand feet and seeing some of the most amazing buttes and rock formations in the world.”
She glanced at Quint. “Hold on.”
He drew in a deep breath, nodded and smiled. He set his gaze in front of him. His eyes had grown half-lidded, a mountain lion basking in the sun, satisfied with his command of his world, perhaps in his belief he would command her.
She pressed her suede hat down on her head a little farther. She turned the key and brought the engine to life. She put the Jeep in motion.
June had never been so full of danger.
* * * * * * * * *
Let’s put this beast on the trail.
Had the tour guide actually said that?
She made a few shifting turns through town, drove the Jeep by a Spanish looking upscale village called Tlaquepaque, took another turn heading north and pretty soon a rough-hewn road appeared so rock laden that he started to laugh.
“Well you did say oil-pan-gouging…” he said.
“Yes I did. Hold on.”
He wanted to hold on and then some.
And what was her name? Oh, yeah, Carly.
Quint let her name roll over his tongue a few times. His nostrils flared…again. Right now, he was a beast and he was on her trail.
He took a slow breath. Her scent drifted into his brain. What was that? Something like salty ocean and exotic flowers, a strange combination for desert high-country. Whatever it was, the sweet, sage-like smell tightened his abdomen.
He loped after her now, behind her, sniffing and chuffing. He growled. He ran faster.
He wanted to bring her down, to pull her under him, to be inside the promise of her scent.
He crossed his arms over his chest trying to contain the powerful sensations. He stared through the windshield and forced his body to relax. He had a job to do in Sedona that didn’t include seducing a Jeep driver. The owner of Jumpin’ Jeep Tours had a winery he intended to wrest from her any way he could. A one-nighter with one of her drivers could affect his bargaining position if the driver chose to confide in her boss.
Her scent once more caught
He hadn’t been this susceptible to a woman in years. Maybe never. Damn. He wanted her the way a man crawling through the desert would give his eyesight for a drop of water. He had to have her, damn the consequences. Just once.
Okay. That helped.
Then he’d get the winery and get the hell out of Sedona.
An uneasy sensation stole through him, maybe the change in altitude. He glanced at Carly. She had her right gloved hand on the stick and her eyes glued to the road. She slowed through a rocky patch. The Jeep bounced like a pogo stick, but she kept the vehicle under tight control. One slide of rocks to the left and they’d go over the cliff.
He’d never met a woman like her before. Maybe that accounted for the way his ribs felt squeezed tight.
When she glanced at him and smiled he had the strangest impulse to offer to drive the rest of the way up the hill for her.
He laughed at himself. What the hell was wrong with him? Next, he’d be asking her on dates and buying her a ring.
Like that would ever happen. He had long ago made peace with his inner-bachelor. He had as much interest in happily-ever-after as a grizzly did a fur coat.
He was the independent sort and always would be. He’d watched his father battle his way through four marriages. He’d kept the last one but only because he dulled his senses with a six-pack every night.
Marriage made no sense to Quint, maybe because it was so normal. Very little of his childhood had been normal and the poverty he’d grown up with had shaped his beliefs as well as his drive.
No one knew the truth, not even Brad, that he’d been a hair’s breadth away from homelessness, ten months out of twelve from infancy. He’d lived without running water, without heat, without electricity most of his early life. He’d lost his mother to pneumonia in the midst of moving yet again, just after he’d started sixth grade.
But his determination had been born of the chaos, a furnace to his drive to do everything he could to build solid companies and provide excellent wages for as many people as he could. That was his mission, not setting up house and making babies.
A Seductive Proposal by Caris Roane / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes