Grace King knows two things for certain: she loves working at her grandmother's café and she loves the hunky town sheriff. She always has. As she bakes him sweet treats, Grace fantasizes about helping him work up an appetite all night long. But whenever she thinks she's finally getting somewhere, he whips out some excuse to escape. Growing up, he never looked twice at her. Now Grace won't rest until she has Jax's undivided attention. Jaxson Anderson can't deny that his best friend's kid sister is the sexiest woman in Mirabelle, Florida. Unwilling to burden Grace with his painful past, Jax keeps the sassy blonde at arm's length. Yet one heated kiss crumbles all of his carefully built defenses. But when a town secret surfaces, threatening to destroy everything they have believed in, can the man who defended Grace from bullies as a child protect her now?
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Grace threw the bag down onto the counter and looked up at him. “Are you honestly going
to stand there and tell me that this clueless persona you have going on is the real deal? Are you
honestly going to tell me that you have idea?”
“No idea about what?”
“You want to know why I got upset last night?” Grace asked, marching over to him. “Why it
infuriates me that you treat me like a little sister?” she shouted, shoving his chest hard. He was
surprised by it and he fell a step backward. “I have sisterly feelings for you, Jaxson; I don’t
and I never will. But you’re too blind and stubborn to see what’s standing right in front of you!”
It was then Jax did the most impulsive thing he’d ever done in his life. He knew exactly
where the impulse came from; he’d had the desire for years. He just wasn’t sure how the
overwhelming need overran all of his sense. He grabbed Grace before he even realized what
he was doing. He gripped her elbows and brought her body flush up against his. His mouth
came down hard on hers. She inhaled, startled, and Jax took full advantage of the tiny opening
of her mouth, dipping his tongue in and finding hers.
Never in his life had Jax kissed a girl and felt like his whole body was on fire, burning from
the inside out. This was incredible, like nothing he’d ever known. She was warm, and sweet,
and soft. How could the inside of someone’s mouth feel this way? Taste this good?
Grace sighed in pleasure as her body relaxed against his. Her arms wound around his
neck. He wrapped his hands around her waist as he walked her backward. When her back hit
the counter he put his hands on her bottom and pulled her up to sit on top of it, their mouths
Her shoes hit the floor a second before she pulled her legs around him, her bare feet
running up the back of his thighs. Her hands were on his chest, as one of his pulled out the tie in
her hair so that he could run his fingers through it. She grabbed on to his side, and her hands
slid around and lowered until they were on his butt. She squeezed and he thought he was going
to go off, right then and there.
He pulled away from her mouth, letting his lips travel down the slope of her neck. How many
times had he fantasized about this? About feeling her soft skin underneath his lips? God he
loved her neck, the soft delicate space at the hollow of her throat.
“Jax.” She said his name with so much need that he abandoned his exploration of her neck.
He palmed the back of her head in one of his hands as he slanted his mouth over hers.
Grace moaned when their tongues found each other again. The sound of it rumbled in Jax’s
chest and settled low in his abdomen.
Jax wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that, wrapped around each other in more ways
than one, before a crackling noise filled the kitchen. Mary Landers’s voice squawked through
the speaker attached to Jax’s shirt.
“Seventeen, what’s your location?”
Jax pulled back from Grace, both of them breathing hard. Grace’s hair was everywhere,
courtesy of his hands. She opened her eyes slowly, as if she was delaying coming back to
reality, but Jax slammed into it hard.
Grace was having an out of body experience. Or at least that was what it felt like.
Jax had kissed her.
God, his mouth had been on hers, his hands everywhere, hands everywhere. Grace’s
hands had been on Jaxson Anderson’s ass. And it was just as spectacular as she’d imagined.
But as Grace brought herself back down to earth, she registered the look on Jax’s face and
her eyes snapped open as everything inside of her crashed.
He did not look happy.
“Jax?” Grace asked, searching his face for something, anything besides the regret that
shone plan as day in his eyes.
He didn’t answer, just disentangled himself from her as he took a step back. There was no
warmth in his eyes as he pushed the button on the microphone on his shoulder. “Seventeen, on
Sandy Beach Drive.”
“Seventeen, shoplifter at Forty-Nine Brooks Avenue. Deputy needed on location.”
“Jax,” Grace said, sliding off the counter and taking a step toward him.
“I have to go,” he said, taking another step back from her.
“You’re not even going to say anything about what just happened?” she asked, trying to
His mouth tightened before he shook his head. “It was a mistake. It shouldn’t have
Grace inhaled sharply, pulling back from him like he’d just hit her. And really he had,
because those words were a slap in the face.
So Grace did the only thing she could do, she walked away from him.
She stepped around him and pushed through the door out into the café. She closed her
eyes as she leaned against the wall and tried to breathe past the tightness in her chest.
She reached up and grabbed her throat. The wall behind Grace shuddered slightly as the
side door in the kitchen closed. He was gone and he didn’t want her. She slid down the wall
and pressed her face into her bent knees.
God it hurt. It hurt so damn much.
Grace gave up trying to fight it and let the pain wash through her. She wasn’t sure how long
she sat on the floor hugging her bent knees. She kept reliving what had happened in the kitchen.
grabbed her. kissed her. Not the other way around. But he’d also decided that it
had been a mistake.
Grace was done. She was done waiting for a man who didn’t want her. She was done
living with this constant ache. She refused to let him break her. She wasn’t going to let that man
affect her anymore.
Grace wiped the remaining tears from under her eyes and pulled herself up onto her feet.
She took a deep breath before she pushed through the door and walked back into the kitchen.
Jax’s cup of coffee was still sitting on the counter, so was his bag of scones. Grace stared at
them for a second before she grabbed both of them. She threw them into the trash can with so
much force that the coffee exploded up and around the sides.
Okay, starting she wasn’t going to let him affect her anymore.
About Shannon Richard
Shannon Richard grew up in the Panhandle of Florida as the baby sister of two overly protective, but loving brothers. She was raised by a somewhat eccentric mother who showed her how to get lost in a book, and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor's in English Literature, and lives in Tallahassee. She's still waiting for her Southern, scruffy, Mr. Darcy and in the meantime writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination.