By: J. S. Scott

“All of it,” he demanded stubbornly, almost angrily.

Looking at him was dangerous, but I met his commanding glare with equal determination—for all the good it did me. He wasn’t going to bend. The stubborn tick of the muscle of his jaw told me he wasn’t budging.

I didn’t want to argue and risk the chance of losing my opportunity.

I sighed. “Okay.” If I agreed, I could always take what I really needed and return the rest later if the job panned out. “Is this really that important to you?”

He nodded abruptly, sending a stray lock of hair to fall onto his forehead. “Very.”

“Can you at least tell me why?”

“You hungry?” Trace ignored the question.

My stomach rumbled as if on cue. “I’m starving.” I decided that being honest about most things would make the situation smoother with this man. He might be incredibly hot, but he was all business. He also seemed to appreciate honesty.

“I’ll take you to get something to eat. We can talk.” He efficiently shut down his computer and stood.

Air left my lungs in a rush as I surveyed his height, his strength, and the broad, masculine form that filled out his custom suit so very well.

What was I thinking? I could never pull off being a fiancée to a man like him.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I stood up, but my feet felt rooted to the ground.

“We both need to eat. I want food,” he insisted. “How long has it been since you ate?”

“Four days, five hours and about ten minutes,” I answered automatically because I was currently feeling every moment of the food deprivation.

“Are you serious?” His question came out growly and displeased.


“Let’s go,” he answered brusquely, walking around the desk to take my upper arm lightly. “Damn, you’re thin, and you look like you’re barely out of high school. How old are you?”

I snorted. “I’m twenty-three, hardly high-school age.”

“You look like jailbait,” Trace answered gruffly.

“I can show you my identification.” I knew I looked young with my hair pulled back and no makeup on my face. Haircuts and makeup were a luxury I couldn’t afford.

“Not necessary. I believe you. But we’re changing your look.” He propelled me gently toward the door.

I shrugged. I didn’t care what I had to do to play the part. I just wanted the promised job. “Fine.”

I let him lead me out the door, noting with relief that Ms. Perfect was gone, probably done for the day.

“You’re going to eat,” he answered bossily.

My first reaction was to rebel because he was ordering me around, but I squelched it. He was my boss now, so I needed to do what he wanted for a while. As my stomach growled, I knew I’d really have no problem with that particular command.

Chapter Two


“This place is a dive,” Trace grumbled as he dug into a massive pile of Mexican food that was overflowing a decorative paper plate.

I stopped shoveling food into my face long enough to look at him. I’d practically attacked my burrito the moment it had been placed in front of me, and hadn’t come up for air since. Looking around at the flamboyant walls of the small restaurant, I had to admit that Trace Walker stood out like a sore thumb. He’d asked me where I wanted to eat, and I’d directed him back to my neighborhood, an area that didn’t have the finest of restaurants and was located in one of the most crime-ridden areas in the city. I couldn’t help smiling as I looked at the gorgeous man across from me in a custom suit, seated at a rickety table covered in a well-used plastic table cloth.

He didn’t belong here.

But I did.

“It’s the best Mexican food in the city.” The restaurant was family owned, and the food was fantastic. What did it matter that there was no fine china or fancy furnishings?

I watched as he practically inhaled the daily special, a look of appreciation on his face.

He nodded. “It’s good. How did you ever find this place?”

I shrugged. “I live right around the corner.”

Trace frowned, putting his fork down on his nearly-empty plate. “In this neighborhood? It’s dangerous, especially at night.”

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