Maya Bradley is on her own now. With the help of her dear friends, Zoey and Addy, she’s determined to give her children the lives they deserve, away from their abusive father. But the journey is destined to be difficult, and she meets her first roadblock when she asks sexy, tattooed bar owner, Jayce Gilmore, for a job serving drinks.
Jayce has two reasons for not wanting to hire Maya. One: she deserves a more respectable job. And two: he’s been madly in love with her since he was a young boy. But when he finally realizes how desperate she is for work, he has no choice but to bring her on.
With Maya struggling to earn a living, get an education, and raise two children, Jayce finally finds himself in a position to help her. And though she isn’t interested in a relationship, Maya is showing definite signs of physical attraction. Jayce is sure he can keep his love hidden and fulfill her every fantasy. Unfortunately, he has severely underestimated the needs of his heart. As the moment of truth fast approaches, Maya must decide whether to break a tough guy’s heart, or open her fragile soul to the risks that come with loving again.
Once again her eyes dropped to his chest.“I was lifting weights,” he said.“Oh.” She forced her eyes back up.He grinned. “Been a while, huh?”She blushed. “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She turned and opened the door, but he reached around her and pushed it shut. The gesture sent her heart pounding in fear. It took her a moment to catch her breath. If Jayce decided to try something with her, what would she do? He could easily overpower her. But no…this was Jayce, not Damon. He could have hurt her any number of times in the past and he never had. She forced herself to calm down.“How long’s it been, Maya?” he asked.She faced the door with his hand inches from her face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”He lowered his voice, his tone becoming more serious. “How long?”She sighed. Breathed. Breathed again. “A while,” she whispered.“Was…” He stopped for a long moment. “Was he good to you? Ever?”Maya couldn’t believe Jayce, of all people, was asking her these things. She couldn’t believe how good it felt to be asked. “In the beginning.”“And then?”“And then there was no more lovemaking. Only brutal…taking.”His body heat warmed her back. She closed her eyes and felt—not at all sure how to judge the feelings. She took in a shaking breath and turned to face him, then she forced her eyes to his—his very kind, gentle eyes. His very heated eyes.He studied her for a moment before pushing off the door and taking two steps back. “How’d he make a sweet girl like you love him, Maya? How?”
Carter Ashby is a hardworking housewife and homeschool mother by day, and a romance reader and writer by night. She lives in rural Missouri with her husband, three children, and two dogs.