Connor Brennan, Bad Boy turned Pastry Chef
First crush, first kiss, first love.
The boy who ruined her reputation and crashed his future, before ghosting her when she needed him most.
Isla Fraser, Cook and Divorced Single Mom
High school sweetheart.
The good girl who defied her parents to date him, then married his best friend. Her betrayal broke him.
The Chef and the Cook
Paired on a Reality TV Bake-Off, their chemistry still smokes. But when Isla confesses the secret she’s kept from him, will Connor burn their second chance?
Connor’s eyes narrowed to amber and black. No twitch of mischief to his mouth to suggest this was a game. He stalked toward her, biceps bunching and fists clenched, menace in every line of his six-foot-two frame; the size he’d curved as a shield around her when they’d made love, now a weapon.
This was how other people saw him. Big, bad, and hard: a wolf in chef’s clothing.
Isla’s heartbeat clattered faster than castanets. The adrenaline chasing through her blood made her dizzy and light-headed, switching off her ability to reason. Her knees refused to lock, her bones and joints so soft with desire that without the counter behind her, she’d fall to his feet. Had she ever been this turned on so fast or so fully?
He prowled closer, a flare to his nostrils as he eyed the line of her throat. The pulse there leapt when he cornered her, a fluttering line of weakness that betrayed her excitement.
Dangerous. Unredeemable. Unreliable.
A brusque nudge of his knee parted her legs, the cotton of his chef pants a soft friction against her inner thigh. Without deliberation, he slammed his hips against hers, pressing her backbone painfully against the cold edge of steel countertop. She winced, but if he cared, he didn’t show it. His focus was now on her breasts, which the arch of her spine backward had pushed high and prominent. His snarl eased long enough for him to wet his lips.
Ready to ravish her.
Sure the cameras were off, but any of the crew could turn around at any moment from their huddle beyond the lights. Her nipples tightened to hard peaks as he acted out their bedroom fantasy.
Only they weren’t in the bedroom, so he wouldn’t do more than tease.
He braced his arms on each side of her body to form slanting bars with no wriggle room to escape. The bulge in his pants pushed into the swollen, aching flesh beneath the cotton of her panties. Her heels lifted off the floor. She spread her legs wider, used the leverage of the counter to tilt her pelvis higher and rock against him.
Blips of pleasure rose through her. Shiny, luminous promises, like pearls on a string. Greedy to clutch them closer, she pleated the flaps of his jacket between her fingers and clung, a willing prisoner.
Connor stayed immobile. Angling her jaw, she pressed her lips to his, determined to steal a second chance.
Her kiss was returned to sender, unopened. His shoulders shifted, up and away, taking his mouth beyond her reach. He stared at her in an endless, ruthless appraisal.
Panic bleached the gloss from her desire.
Somehow, she gasped, “What is it?”
“Your last chance to stop me.” His breathing harsh, he dipped his head to her ear. “I’m ready to take you here. With the entire crew seeing how hard you come. Is that what you want?”
There was no affection in his voice. Not fooled, she didn’t flinch. He’d hauled himself back to give her the choice. But the intent written across his features was in bold print. He’d do it. If she agreed.
The gush of lust caught her by surprise. She tried to grasp onto her scruples, but they were so much flotsam. Their foundations washed away by the desire flooding her veins in a torrent. She was his. She’d always been his. She didn’t care who knew, so long as he claimed her.
But Isla knew, down to her bones, he wouldn’t follow through on his threat. Not out here. In full view. The kink of almost getting caught was hers—a kink he indulged and controlled.
She didn’t believe that had changed.
Although she pitched her voice low, it rang with commitment. “Be as bad as you can be, Connor Brennan. I dare you.”
His head jerked back, his lids widening and his pupils contracting as his stare switched from harsh to incredulous. She held his gaze, brazen and defiant. How far would she let him go? She wished she knew the answer herself.
“You trust me too damn much,” he said hoarsely. Spinning free of her, he grabbed a clean dishtowel off the pile and flicked it over his shoulder, fast enough for it to snap like a lash. “I need to cool off.”
He strode toward the walk-in cooler at the rear of the set without a backward glance. She could stay out here and wait for his return. Or she could go to him and prove she was his perfect match.
Almost tripping over her feet in her haste, she went after her man and yanked the door of the cooler open.
Inside, Connor stood braced against a stack of wire shelves, his forehead resting against the belly of a stainless steel bowl. He didn’t look up as she entered, but the ropes in his neck slackened and his exhale gusted out in a white fog of relief.
“You thought I wouldn’t follow you,” she noted. “As if I hadn’t learned you always have a Plan B.”
“This is the closest place with a semblance of privacy. And sound-proofing. But anyone could come in. Anytime.”
Cold pinpricked her skin. Or excitement?
“I need you,” she told him. “I need this.”
“Do you? Because the mood I’m in … I’ll be rough.” His knuckles flexed as his fist tightened on the overhead shelf.
She’d never pushed his restraint this far before. Her lack of inhibition had brought him to the edge. Yet, still, he held on to the shreds of restraint. What was he clinging to? The possibility he’d hurt her?
“I delivered an eight-pound baby without anesthetic. I can handle quick, hard, and dirty.”
His torso shuddered. She’d pinpointed exactly what he wanted. Yet he didn’t move.
Shoes squeaking on the aluminum floor, she closed the distance between them to hug him from behind. His body held no softness. Every inch was pure, male muscle. Uninvited, her palms slipped down his waist, over his hips, and forward to caress the rigid bulge at his groin. His frame tensed, but he stayed latched to the shelf.
If he thought she’d stop, he had another think coming. The throbbing between her thighs was close to unbearable. She’d never been more aroused.