Taming McGruff(2)

By: Laurie LeClair

“Somebody forgot to lock up somewhere. Usual Friday night,” he said. “Thanks for showing him upstairs. I owe you, baby girl.”

“Baby girl?” the man at her side inquired.

Warmth crawled up her neck. She shrugged. Bruno had adopted the nickname her stepfather had given her years ago. It made her feel cared for and a part of a family.

At the executive elevator now, she went to the panel. She shot him a look over her shoulder. “No peeking,” she teased, and then shielded the pad as she punched in the secret code. The doors opened. “Here you are. Your chariot awaits.”

He grunted and waited for her to precede him inside.

“Are you always this grumpy?” she asked, pushing the button for the fifth floor.


Uh oh, she’d offended him. “Yeah, shut down, buttoned up, scowl between your brows—you know, grumpy.” She couldn’t help herself. At least this kept her from admiring his powerful body just inches away. She had to distract herself somehow.

“You mistake being serious for a bad mood.”

She folded her arms across her chest, held her arms, and then shivered. “Brrrr! Did I mention cold, too?”

He moved swiftly, pinning her against the elevator wall. His hands landed on the wall inches from her body, enveloping her in his essence. Yet he didn’t touch her anywhere.

Instinctively, she shoved at his chest. She met solid, unyielding muscle. Heat burned her palms. Her heart thumped.

“And did I tell you, whatever your name is, with your short, tousled strawberry blonde hair, those incredible cat-green eyes that dance with mischief, and that smoking body of yours that you remind me of a very hot, very sexy fairy?”

The breath sailed out of her. Gazing up into his smoky gray eyes, she gulped hard; there sat desire, intense and raw. It shook her to her core.

Priscilla King, in her few short months of independence from her controlling mother, had never faced this before, never witnessed a man’s passion for her.

He eased away from her when the door dinged open. “After you,” he said, gazing at her long and hard.

She exited, still shaken by his intensity and, more so, by her response.

He reached around her to open one of the glass doors to the executive offices. His other hand landed on the small of her back, guiding her forward.

Heat seared her where he touched. She gasped.

Now standing in the empty reception area, she faced him. “Who are you?”

“Who are you?” he countered.

“Why won’t you tell me?” She refused to reveal her family name; most people judged her unfavorably once they discovered who her mother was and tarnished her with the same calculating, cut-throat reputation.

“You first. Or should I just call you fairy, or pixie?”

“Funny,” she said, not meaning it. Pointing down the hall, she said, “Charlie’s office. Just keep going. It’s the last one, corner office.”

He bowed slightly. “Thank you.”

She watched him walk away, irritated at him. Why did he make her feel this way, hot and prickly all over? She did the only thing she could at the moment. Prissy put her hands on her hips and stuck out her tongue at his retreating back.

Swiftly, he turned, catching her. He chuckled. “You planning on using that?”

“Drat!” she cursed.

“Pixie,” he said with a smile in his voice.

Something low and deep tugged in her middle. Who was he and why did she melt into a puddle when he looked at her?


Griffin James strolled down the hallway, feeling the burn of her stare on his back and the imprint of her palms on his chest where she’d touched him in the elevator. Branded. Outwardly, he grinned at catching her sticking her tongue out at him. Inwardly, he wondered why that little pixie had gotten to him.

A buzz hummed through his body. No woman had ever had that effect on him. Ever.

From the moment she walked toward him in the salon, his attraction for her kicked him in the gut. She barely came up to his chin. The pink knit dress she wore fit her petite body like a glove, emphasizing her curves in all the right places. He recalled the feel of her soft porcelain skin when he brushed the smudge from her cheek. Her perfume, a subtle blend of floral and citrus, tickled his senses. He moaned now.

And the way she’d gotten under his skin, calling him grumpy and cold, stunned him. He didn’t allow anyone to breach the protective barrier he surrounded himself with, his line of defense.

“Focus,” he reminded himself under his breath. “You have a job to do.”

His momentary lapse of his mission concerned him. Distractions were costly. He couldn’t afford to lose. Not when he was so close. He waited nearly all his life for this. Griff wouldn’t cave now, wouldn’t stop until he got what he dreamed of all the long, lonely nights growing up in foster care.

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