Callan Baird used to laugh more than he frowned, but that was before his wife died. Now his life is duty, debts and a general apathy for anything else. And then Victoria Burke burst into his life. She's everything he wants to corrupt.
Victoria has two choices: agree to a grouchy, sexy Scotsman's extortion or call her boss to explain why she can't do her job. Since she's spent the last three years rebuilding her career as antique appraiser, and this one commission could make or break it, the decision is a no-brainer. Except everything about Callan is complicated.
He sees no problem turning their work relationship into a sexual one. She refuses to break her boss' no-fraternization rule. He's the one thing she wants and the one thing she can't have. He's had his one great love, and doesn't want a replacement. His heart doesn't agree, because she's everything he desires.
Callan will have to let go of his past if he wants Victoria to be in his future.
“Someone told me recently there are always strings attached when dealing with a Baird.”
He wished he could like her less for throwing his words back at him. Callan inhaled and let his attention wander away from her intense stare. The sky had darkened and that promised a harder rain than a drizzle. Normally, he'd have welcomed it, but not when the soft sunlight almost turned her eyes amber.
This entire situation would be better if he could just not like her. “I'd break your heart before I'd ask you to give your everything to me. Your work is your everything. That much is obvious. The truth is, I don't want to want you.”
Surprised lifted her brows for a second. She jerked her hands from her pockets and motioned between them. “I've noticed you keep getting closer despite that.”
He blanked his expression. “I don't want you to wonder about size.”
She glanced down and scoffed. “About four inches between us. After all your big talk, I expected to find out why Scottish men wear kilts. Can't fit it all in pants, can they?”
Amazed that she could make him blush, all he could do was shake his head. “You are a Scot at heart. You dirty-mouthed lass.”
“Bollocks.” Her dimple deepened.
Instinct propelled his movements, just bypassed his brain and signaled his body. He grabbed her and dragged her up against him, to his mouth. Claim her. Even before he'd known the true taste of grief—bitter and unyielding, unending—he'd never wanted to make a woman his, but Victoria...
Callan wanted to taste what made her different, let it sink into his bones and make a home. He wanted to lay claim to that part of her and do with it what he willed. He teetered on the edge of taking her on his uncle's porch. Kissing her was giving in to the need that rushed through his veins.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and sank into his embrace with a moan. At her submission, Callan lost what was left of his common sense. He turned, pushed her against the door and let the need take over. He cupped one full cheek of her arse and pressed her against his cock. There. She could feel every inch.
Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. Eventually she upgraded to a computer. She’s still typing away on the same computer, making imaginary people fall in love.
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Hard Men the Hard Way