Then, minutes later, she walked into the kitchen, wrapped in that damn robe. ”Is that coffee I smell? ”

Hed kicked off his shoes in the living room and saw that she was barefoot, too. ”Youll get cold on the tiles. Ill find you some socks. ” He didn even to try to fight his protective instincts toward her.

She came to stand next to him, holding out a hand for the cup of coffee he held. ”Coffee first. ”

”This is … mine, ” he finished, as she stole the cup and took a big gulp. He watched her swallow, heard her sigh in appreciation and felt all sorts of things harden in his body. Her fresh, womanly scent made him want to strip her down to her glowing skin and crush her body under his, while his hands stroked and kneaded. Frowning, he backed off a couple of steps. ”How are you feeling? ”

”Better. ” She turned, cradling the cup in her palms. ”Micheal didn really scare me – I guess I just felt betrayed. ” Disappointment edged her tone.

He understood. ”You
e safe here. ”

Her smile was glorious. ”I know. I trust you. ”

Now no way in hell could he seduce hernow. ”Ill get you those socks. ”

”Don worry about it. Lets go in the living room instead. ” She put down the now empty cup. ”Are you coming? ”

Bemused, he followed her into the spacious room.

”Its so open. ” She walked across the plush dove-grey carpet to spread her palm against the glass.

He came to stand beside her. ”Its reflective. No one can see inside ”.

Next to him ,Graces profile was clean and pure. The curling hair around her face looked like it would be incredibly soft to the touch. The urge to reach out and test his theory was so strong that he shoved his hands into his pants pockets and clenched them tight.

”Your homes very tidy. ”

To him, it looked barren. ”I don live with a kid. ”

She smiled fondly. ”My brother, Simon is messy but I suppose muddy sneakers come with little boys. ”

”Im surprised you let him go on the camp. ”

Her eyes moved from contemplating the turbulent sea to fix on his face. ”Whats that supposed to mean? ”

He raised a brow. ”You
e very protective of Simon. ”

”Im his only family. ” Her defensiveness was clear. ”I can be protective if I want. ”

He left the topic for now, aware how touchy she was about her brother. Hed tried to broach the subject with her while shed worked for him, but shed frozen him out. At the time, hed been frustrated at having to accept that he didn have any rights over her brother … or over her.


He wouldn touch her tonight, because hed promised her safety and he would never let her off on that assurance. But, after tonight, all bets were off, because he wanted rights over Grace. All sorts of rights. And right now she needed comfort. And security.

His fingers itched to reach out and brush the dark curls back from her face. To smooth away the crease between her brows and trace that line with a fingertip. A shiver ran down his spine at the idea.

” One of the spare rooms is made up. Its to the right of the upstairs bathroom. My bedrooms across the hall if you need anything. ”Jacobs tone was businesslike.

Grace knew a dismissal when she heard one. ”Yes, boss. ” She looked from the tumultuous weather outside to the powerful man standing next to her. He could be just as dangerous as the storm winds.

”I certainly never heard that when you were working for me. ” His words were light but the look in his eyes was intensity itself, hot and possessive.

She knew what that look meant. Heart thudding, she said an abrupt ”Good night, ” and left.

There was no lock on the bedroom door but she didn worry.Jacob would never assault her. That didn mean he didn want her. In the past, when life had threatened to become too bleak or lonely, shed hugged the awareness of his desire to her, safe in the knowledge that nothing would ever come of it. She wasn that kind of woman.

AndJacksonwasn that kind of man. His personal code was stronger than lust or passion.But now hed acknowledged the smoldering fire between them, if only with his dark eyes. There was no denying how it affected her… not for long at least.

Confused by her warm emotions, Grace started to get ready for bed and then realized she had nothing to sleep in. About to search the closet in the room, she heard a heavy tread outside her door. A curt knock followed.

Opening the door, she found Jacob holding out a white shirt. ”Thought you might need this. ” His voice was low and that banked fire in his gaze wasn apparent.

Her heart turned over. ”Thanks. ” Just as she took the shirt, her cell phone, which shed dropped into the pocket of her robe, rang. Immediately, worry shot through her. ”That might be Simon. Hold on. ”

Unfortunately, it was her stepfather.Kenny , on the line. ”Where are you,Grace? No ones answering at your place. ”Wheres my son?

She knew hed said the last deliberately – a cruel reminder that Simon was only her half brother. No matter that shed raised him, in the eyes of the law she had less of a right to Simon than Kenny, his biological father.

”Why are you calling? Its late. ” Her voice threatened to tremble. She crushed the shirt in her hand.

”You haven responded yet. ”

She knew her face was losing its color. Turning her back to Jacob, she said, ”I have two more weeks. ”

A bare fourteen days before time expired to file legal papers in opposition to his claim for sole custody.

His laugh was cruel. ”We can do it easy or we can do it hard but Ill win. Remember that and don forget your place, brat – you
e nothing but a rich mans castoff. My son deserves better than a life with you. ”

She couldn breathe – she wanted to scream and she wanted to kill her stepfather. Instead, she choked out a response. ”Youve always been cruel – Ill prove it. ”

With that, she hung up the phone.

”Who was that? ” Jacob asked quietly.

She could almost feel the heat of his big body against her back. The urge to tell him was overwhelming, but remnants of the fear generated by the call held her back.Jacob was a rich and powerful man, too.

He might take Kennys side. Bewildered and a little lost, she could barely think. All she knew was that she couldn let that monster take Simon away. Suddenly, panic hit her. What if Kenny took him by force? She had to call the camp and warn them!

When she turned to face Jacob, the clean, male scent of him taunted her with promises of safety.

”Someone I don want to talk to, ” she admitted, trying not to let him see the panic riding her.

”Do you want me to deal with it? ”

She shook her head. ”No. I think Id like to go to sleep. ” Her words were shaky, but at least they weren trembling anymore.

”All right. ” He reached out and brushed a stray wisp of hair back from her forehead, lingering at the curve of her jaw. ”Get some rest, Grace. ”

With that, he left her alone.

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