Stephanie Manning took a job at her grandfather’s summer camp for comfort and security. Once there, she meets a man named Jason Wells. Jason, a sexy ex-military man, offers her a challenge and a game that she can’t resist.
The game she agrees to play with him will teach her about herself, about desire, and about the insatiable thirst for a kiss. She doesn’t know what his endgame will be, but Stephanie quickly discovers that she’s playing for keeps.
The tire was flat, and a thorough inspection of the trunk hadn’t gifted me with a spare. It was hotter than hell, so I sprawled out on the bench seat of the truck with my legs dangling out the open door. I was stranded on a dirt road with no cell reception and no hope of help. I also wasn’t entirely sure how far away I was from my granddad’s place, as I’d never actually driven there myself.
The crunch of gravel and rumble of a motor caught my attention; then suddenly it stopped. I wondered if I’d imagined the noise, but figured I hadn’t been out in the sun long enough to be suffering from heatstroke. I sat up as a man came into view.
He leaned on the open door of the truck and looked me over. “No spare?”
I plucked off my sunglasses and sighed. “It’s rented.”
“You should always check for a spare when you rent a vehicle, even if the rental guy swears it’s there.”
“I’ll put that on my list of things to do for the next time I have to rent,” I responded in all seriousness. “If it had been on my list, I would have done it.”
I pulled my notebook out, flipped to the right page and handed it to him.
A smile played on his lips while he read my checklist. “I see.”
I plucked my notebook from his hand and frowned. “Are you going to help me?”
“Absolutely.” He leaned down so that we were face-to-face. “Do you have a list I should follow?”
“No, I’ve never needed rescuing before.” He took a few steps back from the truck as I scooted across the seat and stood.
A big motorcycle was parked to the rear of my wounded vehicle. “I should be thankful you came along. I’d be happier if you’d come along in a car.”
He grinned, showing off even, white teeth. “It’s a beautiful day for a ride.”
“It’s 103,” I responded and took a good look at him. He had shoulder-length dirty blond hair and tanned skin. Normally, I found this look unattractive. “You don’t look crazy.”
“I’m quite sane.” He glanced over my face then said, “You’re starting to get a little pink. I can take you back to my place so you can call the rental place.”
“I probably shouldn’t take a ride from a stranger.”
“If I wanted to kill you, I could do it right here.” He motioned toward his bike. “It’s not a white horse, but it’ll have to do.”
“Take off your sunglasses.”
He obliged, not asking why I wanted him to do it. He had dark green eyes. My grandmother had always said that eyes were the windows to the soul. I was never sure I believed it, but looking into his eyes, I was relieved that he was there. “Do you have an extra helmet?”
“No.” He shook his head. “You’ll wear mine. We’re only about a half mile from my house.”
“That’s not safe.”
“Safest option for my passenger, which should be the priority of any driver,” he said and offered me another breezy, attractive smile.
I grabbed my backpack and followed him without argument. Screwing up the courage I normally reserved for public speaking engagements, I slid onto the back of his motorcycle and hoped like a fool that closing my eyes would make the situation tolerable. He pulled my hands from his hips and wrapped them around his waist so that I was plastered against his back. Fingers laced together, I tried to ignore the vibrating machine between my legs and the man in my arms. It was a lost cause on both counts.
I caught sight of a large log home just a minute or so into the ride. It was lovely, in a rough-hewn sort of way, and the glass in the windows sparkled in the sunlight. “Very pretty.”
“Thanks.” He motioned me to get off the back.
He waited while I slid off the motorcycle before he cut the engine and settled the bike on its kickstand. I plucked off the helmet and handed it to him. “Your wife has great taste. The flowers are beautiful.”
“No wife,” he said and glanced around the yard. “Just a bit of time on my hands while I was getting settled in here.”
“Oh.” No wife. That meant I was entering a single man’s home. I swallowed and offered him a smile. “Where’s that phone?”
He grinned. “Yes, let’s get to the phone so at least one other human being will know you’re here at my mercy.”
I took off my backpack as I followed him up the stairs, briefly distracted by the porch swing. If I hadn’t been so damn hot, I might have sat down on it because it looked like the sort of place to sit and let stress bleed right off.
The moment I entered his home, I was met with a blast of the most beautiful thing man has ever created, central air. “I’m a horrible person. I didn’t ask your name.”
“Jason Wells.” He handed me a phone and motioned toward another room. “I’m going to get you some water. Make your call. There’s a magazine on the coffee table with my address on it.”
It took nearly forty-five seconds for someone to answer the phone at the rental agency.
“Hi, this is Stephanie Manning. I rented a truck from your agency this morning. I have a flat tire. There was no spare tire, so now I’m stranded.”
They didn’t have anything soothing to tell me. It would be at least an hour before they could have someone out with a replacement vehicle. After I hung up, I took the bottled water Jason handed me. “Just an hour.”
“I could take you into town.”
“I wouldn’t want to go that far without a helmet.”
“I have a car and an additional helmet.” He sat down in a chair across from me. “Or we can spend this time getting to know each other, Stephanie.”
“I’m Carlton Manning’s granddaughter.” It was the only thing I could think to say. Clarksville, Georgia was unincorporated and so small that my grandfather knew everyone and their dog. Frustrated, I blew air out through my lips and glanced at him.
“I know.” He inclined his head. “I knew when I saw the list. He does that list thing too.”
“It was one of the many useful things he taught me.” I put my wallet back in my backpack and zipped it. “I’ve been traveling for nearly nine hours.”
“Where did you pick up the truck?”
“At the airport when I landed in Atlanta. After an eight-hour flight, getting behind the wheel was a relief.” I took a deep drink of my water. “How do you know my granddad?”
“I own half the land he has his summer camp sits on.” He stood. “Let’s have some lunch.”
It was curious, because granddad hadn’t mentioned selling part of the camp. I followed him into the kitchen, trying to think of a casual way to bring up his ownership of half of the summer camp that I expected to inherit one day. I looked at him and offered a smile. “I must be ruining your day.”
He glanced at me. “I had nothing planned that can’t be done another day.”
“Carl would have my hide if I didn’t take care of his favorite grandkid.”
I chuckled. “How’d you end up owning half of the camp?”
“Carl needed help.” Jason shrugged. “My parents dumped me at his place every summer, so it’s like home. I couldn’t let him lose it and didn’t want a land developer parking a subdivision in my backyard. I had some money I’d inherited from my own grandparents and was at loose ends when I left the army.”
He motioned toward the window, and I was surprised to see the lake that I had played in as a child. Across the water was my grandfather’s summer camp. “Oh, well, I was practically there.”
“Indeed.” He opened his fridge. “It’s too hot for real food. How does a sandwich strike you?”
“Sounds good.” Just about everything he said sounded good, and I figured I was in a little bit of trouble on that front.
“Did you want to wait here for your replacement vehicle?”
“Yes,” I agreed. “There’s no need to add to the confusion already established between the rental company and me.” I slipped up onto a barstool and watched him moving around his kitchen. “You were in the military?”
“Did two tours in the army.”
He glanced toward me. I really liked his eyes and to be truthful, I really liked everything else about him too. He was built well, without being overly muscular.
“What about you?” he asked.
“I graduated from college a few weeks ago. I majored in education.”
“You’re going to join Carl at the camp?”
“It was always my intention.” I frowned. “However, I didn’t realize he’d sold half of it.”
“I make no decisions concerning the camp, Stephanie. Carl pays me a small stipend yearly for the use of the land I own, mostly because he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ve been helping him with renovations and the like this summer. Also, my three nephews attend his camp for free.”
I still wasn’t pleased that my grandfather had sold half of the camp to pay his bills. “How much money did you give my grandfather?”
“You’ll have to ask him,” Jason returned and then set a sandwich in front of me. “Mayo or mustard?”
I shook my head. “Neither.”
“I’m sure Carl will tell you all you want to know about the land and why he sold it.” Jason went to the refrigerator and pulled out two bottles of water. He opened one and offered it to me. I blushed, realizing I’d already drained the first one he’d given me.
Taking the water, I wondered why my grandfather trusted this man. It was also rather disconcerting that I wanted to as well. With the camp so close, I was no longer really stranded. “I’m thinking I’ll just walk around the lake to the camp.”
“Carl isn’t at the camp. One of his lady friends is picking out furniture today, and he offered to help. Also, if you move to another location, it will be even longer before you get another vehicle from the rental place.”
I nodded. My grandfather had become a social butterfly since my grandmother died. I didn’t begrudge him. It was difficult for him to be alone. “I’d planned to keep the truck for a week until I could speak with my grandfather about using a camp vehicle or if I needed to go ahead and purchase one of my own.” Looking to Jason, I raised one eyebrow. “Lady friends?”
“His words, not mine. As for transportation, he has several that might suit your needs. He told me already that he only plans to offer one session this year, and that will be late in the summer. He’s had the cabins renovated.”
“I’m glad you get along with my grandfather so well.” I watched him and wondered if he had any lady friends.
“He’s a good man, and I give him credit for my being semi-normal.” He sat down beside me. “He told me a bit about you when he said you were coming out here to work at the camp. But he never mentioned how attractive you were.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure if my grandma were still alive you would have gotten an earful. The moment I graduated high school, she started looking for a husband for me.”
“She was a great lady. I regret that I was out of the country when she passed.”
I nodded. “Granddad did much better than I did in dealing with her death. She was sick a very long time. He was relieved she no longer suffered but I was…selfish about it, I guess. I wanted her to hold on as long as possible.”
“You never spent your summers at the camp.”
“No, my mother didn’t like that it was co-ed. I was only allowed to visit when the summer camp was closed.” I grinned. “So, I went to an all-girl summer camp that had a boy’s camp across the lake. Once she found that out, I started spending my summers at home. In this day and age, summer camp is something of a quaint ideal. Most of the ones I remember are long gone.”
“Carl has done a lot to make sure he survived. He has an internet center so kids can email their families. They get an hour of online time a day, but he makes them give up their phones and tablets.”
“I remember when he bought the computers. I was kind of surprised, since he’s always been really big on unplugging.”
I finished off my sandwich. It was nice to have a real conversation with a guy because they’d often been in short supply in school. Most of the boys I’d gone to college with were more interested in drinking and fucking than actually talking to a girl.
“So, do you think your grandmother would have tried to set us up?”
I laughed. “Probably not. You look far too dangerous.”
“Hey, she loved me.”
“I’m sure.” I looked at him. “That doesn’t mean she’d have thought you were marriage material for her only granddaughter.”
He laughed. “She used to tell me that I would be no good to any woman until I settled down.” He motioned around his home. “I’d followed her instructions to the letter.”
“Are you wife hunting?”
“No.” Jason slid off the stool and took my empty plate away.
“So, what do you hunt for?”
Jason offered me a grin over his shoulder, his green eyes bright with amusement. “Sex, but don’t worry—I never make moves on stranded women.”