Sweetgrass Springs Stories
Texas Heroes, Book 24
One billionaire…one tomboy…one night of magic. Miracle or mirage?
Empire builder Dominic Santorini is surrounded by women angling to share the luxurious life his wealth will buy. Eccentric, colorful tomboy Lexie Grayson encounters a hot guy in a hotter classic car broken down on the side of the road, and an afternoon as his mechanic leads to a scorching night with a man she knows only as Nikos—but when dawn arrives, he’s vanished, never to be seen again.
She buries her heartache in her new job, staging an extravaganza launch for a video game that will give her a chance to snoop around for clues that the company is responsible for stealing from her best friend. But when she meets her new employer–
He’s an ice-cold version of that magical night’s unforgettable lover.
What kind of man did she fall for on that incredible night? Does he know his company has stolen from her best friend? Why does he act as if they’ve never met? Was the magic they shared only a lie?
He’s as shocked as she is. Was the fairy sprite who touched his heart an illusion as false as the ones she is creating for his gala? Worse, could the woman he can’t forget be behind the leak that’s endangering his company’s survival?
What is truth, and who is real…and is love a luxury neither can afford?
Excerpt: Texas Magic
Lexie couldn’t remember how she got out of the building and into her pickup.
Her mind seethed and boiled, thoughts tumbling over one another in horror and confusion.
She didn’t want to think about what she’d just learned.
She wanted to take back the last—how long had she been driving around? However long it had been, she wanted an hour before that.
Back to the time when she could only think of Nikos as a man who broke a promise to come back.
She fought the urge to drop her head to the steering wheel and weep. How could she reconcile the man who caressed her body so tenderly, who drew depths of passion from her such as she’d never dreamed existed—how could she reconcile her pirate lover with the man who’d built that megalith of a company?
And how could she even begin to see him as a man who would steal Max’s dreams?
He couldn’t have…could he?
She should just ask him, flat out—but how did you ask a question like that?
Did you steal my friend’s creation?
She wasn’t even sure she could have asked such a question of the man she’d known as Nikos, but this man? This remote, forbidding stranger who hadn’t even acknowledged they’d met? This man who was rich as Croesus and gaining daily?
History taught that big successes like Poseidon took intense concentration and ruthlessness to build. Where was there room for the man who’d taken her breath away, inside the man who could build all of that?
“Dear heaven…” she whispered. What did she do? She pulled into her driveway and dropped her head back against the seat, feeling sick. How could she have let him touch her? How could she have been so blind?
To think that she’d cried over him, shed tears that he hadn’t shown up. Told him so blithely all the reasons she was sure she could trust him.
She’d been such easy pickings.
The old lesson reared its nasty little head. Powerful men were their own breed, as she knew only too well, having been at the mercy of one once her grandmother had died. Her father’s father had been hell-bent on making her into someone worthy of his family name.
Gran had only wanted her to be happy. She’d fought Grandfather tooth and nail to give her that life, to let her be who she was, to encourage the flights of fancy he wanted to stamp out, but it was only after his death last year that she’d been truly free.
And mostly alone, save for Max, though she had hopes for her friendship with Spike and now maybe Scarlett, too.
Still, she’d been more right than she’d known when she’d compared Nikos—Dominic—to a pirate. Pirates plundered, they didn’t trouble with something so inane as a conscience. She’d made it easy for him.
So easy. Too easy, Lexie.
He hadn’t felt the magic—only she had.
But the note… He’d called it special, their night.
Lexie laughed, but it rang hollow and hurt her chest. He’d come back to his real life and realized his mistake. It wasn’t as if he was the first to find her wanting. And he was rich, filthy rich. Moved in a jet-set crowd. Knew women all over the world more sophisticated and glamorous than she’d ever be.
How could she work with him? The gala was to be held at his house and from here on, though she had other jobs, it would be her main focus.
His house? His mansion. He lived in another world. Just another grease monkey, right, Lexie?
She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t work on this contract, now that she knew. She couldn’t bear to face him.
Not the way she’d lost her mind in his arms.
But she needed the business, she reminded herself, and this gala served more than one purpose. If being on the premises gave her a way to help Max, she had to keep her access. He was her best friend, and she couldn’t let him down.
She wasn’t a coward. She had to find some way to lock herself up tight and go through with this contract. How, she didn’t know, but she had no choice. And while she was at it, she had to wipe away every memory of a night that was burned into her brain. She could do it; she had practice. She’d had to take up Gran’s battle after Gran was gone because there had been no one else to protect her dreams. You didn’t do that by being a pushover or kidding yourself about what was real.
Swiping at her wet cheeks with the edge of one palm, Lexie opened the door and got out of the pickup, straightening her shoulders as she walked to her door.
She wouldn’t be a fool again. She would stay out of Santorini’s path, get the job done, get on with her life.
Her phone chirped with a voicemail notification. Weary to the bone, she touched the Play arrow.
A strange woman’s crisp voice spoke. “Ms. Grayson, this is Evelyn Murray, Dominic Santorini’s secretary. Mr. Santorini wishes you to meet with him tomorrow at his home at two p.m. to discuss your plans for erecting the sets for the gala. If two o’clock is not suitable, please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss an alternative time.”
Meet with him. At his home. Alone. Her earlier resolve wavered. Shivered like aspen leaves in a chill mountain wind. When would be a good time?
Lexie sank into a chair, rubbing the heel of her hand over her breastbone to soothe away the ache and confusion at the very thought of being alone with Dominic Santorini.
How about never, Mrs. Murray?