Beth Wilmington, the cute blonde hostess from the coffee shop is unlike the women CEO Gabriel Reynolds usually 'dates'. There is something about her that compels him to keep going back there, despite the vile tasting coffee they serve. Desperate to know more about her, he jumps at the opportunity to give her a job when it presents itself.
Down on her luck, Beth sees Gabriel's job offer as a live-in chef and housekeeper as a chance to finally get out of debt, but her intense attraction to him scares her. He's sin in a devilishly sexy wrapper and only trouble can come from being close to him.
Can she live with the most eligible bachelor on the East Coast and not fall foolishly head-over-heels for him? Can she risk getting hurt? And will she want Gabriel when he opens up and shares his deep, dark urges and desires?
"Damn, damn, damn," Beth muttered, leaning over the coffee shop front counter, pen in hand, attempting to find a way to make college possible. Sadly, the numbers didn't seem to want to co-operate. As it appeared, financially college just wasn't going to be happening for her this coming fall semester. There was no way around it; she was barely making enough to survive as it was. She was making so many sacrifices, too many as a matter of fact. Having to cut back on the hours she worked at the coffee shop in order to attend school, while paying the massive tuition wouldn't work. As it was the cost of living was a financial burden that was more than she could handle at the present time.
"Damn," she cursed again a little more loudly than she intended, as she rolled the offending list of expenses up in her fist, turned, and tossed the paper ball into the nearby garbage can. The paper ball hit the back of the can and fell in soundlessly.
Beth sighed as she turned back towards the counter and gave Gabriel a faint smile. Any other day she would have loved seeing Gabriel - his visits were normally the highlight of her afternoon. However, today was different, not even the sight of her secret crush could brighten her day. Nope, not even the tall, lean, dark-haired hunk in the finely tailored suit with the piercing dark eyes, could take her mind off of her troubles.
"Afternoon Gabriel,” she said solemnly.
Leaning an elbow on the beige marble counter separating them he smiled at her. His sweet, seductive smile helped melt the icy mood she'd been in, up until that point - slightly. "So, come on, tell me what's bothering you so greatly? Where’s that beautiful smile you usually present me with?” He had a warm yet concerned look on his face.
“Oh I got it! Your boss is being a jerk?" he teased lightly.
A smile began to lift the corners of Beth's lips for the first time that day as she shook her head. "No."
He raised an inquisitive brow at her. "Oh I definitely got it now. Boyfriend troubles, right?"
Her smile widened. "Hardly." Grabbing a large paper cup from the dispenser she began to pour his coffee.
"The usual?" she asked, ignoring his question. She didn't want to be spilling her financial woes to customers - not even Gabriel. And as for her non-existent love life - she really didn't want to be spilling that to him.
Gabriel nodded. “Okay I’m done guessing,” he gave a little chuckle. “Then tell me? What's wrong?"
Beth secured the plastic lid onto the cup and sighed, sliding the cup across the counter to him. Crossing her arms over her chest, she leaned her hip against the counter and caught his gaze. "Do you really want to know or are you just being polite?"
Damn, he looks good today. The top button of his off-white shirt was undone. His black satin tie hung loosely around his neck. He looked as though he could have just walked off the pages of 'GQ magazine.' He was, without a doubt, one of the hottest men she'd ever met. His easygoing demeanor and sinfully sexy smile complimented his good looks perfectly. Did he even know he was so handsome? She found herself wondering, Of course he does... How could he not?
Gabriel chuckled. "I really want to know. Wouldn't have asked if I didn't."
Beth huffed. "Well, the problem is that I just can't catch a break."
"Can't catch a break?" Grabbing a bill from his trousers pocket he passed it to her as he accepted the coffee. "Why do you say that?"
Accepting the payment she rang in his total and proceeded to give him his change. When she offered it to him, as usual, he waved it off so she dropped it into her tip jar. The tip equaled roughly three times the cost of the coffee; he was easily the best tipper to walk through the doors of the coffee shop.
"Well, I'm halfway through college and there is no way I'm going to afford to be able to go back next year. I can barely pay my bills even with all the overtime I put in this place. Like, take this week for instance. I have a choice... do I pay my electricity or my telephone bill?"
Gabriel nodded appearing grim, but amusement gleamed in his eyes as she continued on. All of a sudden the dam broke and the need to purge her grievances was too overwhelming so she continued her rant, the words falling from her lips like verbal diarrhea that she was helpless to stop. "So that means I'm stuck here. At the shitty dead end job for another year. Hell, maybe even the rest of my life! I'm twenty-two years old and facing a lifetime of being the donut girl. It wouldn't even be so bad if I had a boyfriend, or hell, got laid once in a while. But no. None of that either. The only men I seem to attract are criminals, married men or unemployed losers." Beth huffed and shook her head in defeat. "Just can't catch a break..."
Nodding, a smile spread across Gabriel's lips as he raised a brow at her. "Well as far as the telephone and electricity issues go I might be able to help you there."
Frowning, Beth caught his eyes. Her heart stopping for a moment and her face flushed. Oh-my-God. She groaned inwardly. Now he thinks I'm some sex starved charity case. She prayed for death at that moment. Though looking at him, his dark eyes burrowing into hers, she knew she'd have told him anything he wanted to know. Somehow she doubted many women could resist answering any questions or fulfilling any request he may send their way.
Feeling the heat rush up to her cheeks, Beth shook her head. "No. No, I wasn't implying or hinting. I-"
Gabriel's grin widened. "So you don't want a better job?'' He shrugged, "Or at least a better paying job. Not sure if I would say better."
"W-well. No, I do. I mean, I didn't mean to be looking for handouts. I just-"
"Can you cook?" Gabriel asked laughing outright as he reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and producing a business card which he passed to her.
The heat in her cheeks intensified and she nibbled lightly on her lower lip. "Macaroni and cheese." she joked. Could she cook? He had to be joking. She had to be the worst cook she knew. Nothing ever seemed to turn out right, no matter how much time or effort she took to prepare a meal. She overcooked everything. Some people were meant to be domestic; she wasn't one of those people.
Taking the card from him, she glanced down at it. "Gabriel Reynolds Enterprises."
"Yeah, that's me," he confirmed, with a disinterested shrug.
She looked up from the card to meet his eyes. She had no idea what Gabriel Reynolds Enterprises was, but he seemed to be awfully young to be running anything. He couldn't have been a day over thirty.
"You know what," reaching back into his inner pocket, he produced a silver pen, retrieved the card from her fingertips and quickly jotted down a phone number and address. "I have to go. I have a meeting in ten minutes, but give me a call tonight, we'll arrange a meeting and see what we can figure out for you."
Beth accepted the extended card once again, and decided to ask the question that was at the forefront of her mind. "Why would you do this for me?"
Snatching his coffee from the counter he grinned at her, and gave her a wink, sending her pulse racing. "Maybe I like the way you make my coffee."
Rolling her eyes at him, she couldn't help but grin; his smile was infectious. "I press a button on a machine and it pours it into a cup..."
"Call me tonight," he called over his shoulder ignoring her comment, as he rushed across the dining room and out the front door.
Beth watched as he strode across the parking lot, taking long, graceful strides. Working for Gabriel... Cooking? She tapped her lower lip with the edge of the business card as she watch him slide into his black Lamborghini, pull out of the parking slot and speed away. She made a mental note to do an online search for Gabriel Reynolds Enterprises when she arrived home. Maybe he owned a chain of restaurants? She had always assumed he was some sort of hotshot lawyer, or something of the sort. Whatever it was that he did for a living, considering the expensive car, finely tailored suit and large tips he always gave her for a single cup of coffee, Beth guessed that business was very good for Mr Reynolds.