More Than Tempt YouREED FAMILY RECKONING, BOOK 5.5
I romanced her for revenge…but what if she’s not the enemy after all?
I’m Clint Holmes. I was an ambitious guy with a busy life and a growing business. Sure North Dakota wasn’t a tropical paradise, but I was happy enough—until tragedy struck. Now the only thing that matters is finding the person responsible and making her pay. But Bethany Banks is a Harvard-educated shark used to swallowing her enemies whole while playing dangerous corporate games. How can a blue-collar oil man like me possibly beat her?
The moment I lay eyes on my beautiful nemesis, the answer is obvious. I seduce her.
On Maui, where she’s fled, I get to know the man-eater who caused my family so much pain…only to find she’s not the brazen ballbuster I assumed. She’s skittish, secretive, vulnerable. For some reason, my instinct is to protect her. I can’t abandon my plan…but I can’t stop wanting her. Night after night, I pry her open with my touch until I’m drowning in our passion. Soon, I’m questioning everything, especially the fine line between love and hate. But when the past comes back to wreak vengeance and the truth explodes, can I prove that I’m more than tempted to love her forever?
When my phone rings at two in the afternoon the following day, I answer Ash’s call immediately. “Well?”
“Brush off your rusty bartending skills. You’re in. You start in three hours.”
I let out a sigh of relief. Game on.
Last night, Ash and I stayed up, plotting the best tactic for me to interact with Bethany. If I’m going to win her over and be her pal, I can’t pose as a customer who buys a drink or two. I need time with her. Working together seems like the smartest ploy. Since Ash is in good with the manager, he can give me the same shifts as Bethany. She and I will have being new on the job and new to the island in common. After those conversation starters, I’ll figure out how to build from there.
“Thanks, man. I owe you.”
“No sweat. I’ll be by to pick you up in an hour. We’ll grab a bite and head in to work.”
I get cleaned up, check in on my brothers and Howie, who’s running my business back in North Dakota. Then pace while I wait for Ash. I try to nail down my opening approach—what I’ll say to coax her into talking to me, how I’ll thaw her ice.
By the time Ash arrives, I’ve got a rough plan in my head, and it starts with flattery. Don’t most people like to be buttered up? Then I’ll give her some aw-shucks, fish-out-of-water crap while I play on whatever sense of adventure she has about exploring our beautiful surroundings. By this time tomorrow, I’m hoping she sees me as a budding acquaintance who may soon become a confidant.
After a quick lunch at Zippy’s by the airport, we head to Lahaina. “This place is tourist central, being near the hotels and right on the beach. We’ll be busier as the night wears on. But you’ll have a few hours to acclimate to the bar—and sidle up to your victim.”
“She is notthe victim.” My father was, and he’s no longer here to defend himself. That’s my job.
Ash winces, contrite. “Sorry. Bad choice of words. I meant your target.”
“I know. I’m just…” Touchy? Nervous? No, uncomfortable.
The truth is, I’m not loving any of this. Deception goes against my grain. I’m usually honest, even painfully blunt at times. I try to stay friendly about it, but I make my point without mincing words. Hell, I work in oil fields, so that wouldn’t fly anyway. But I can’t handle Bethany Banks as if she’s a fellow oil man. She plays cunning corporate games like an expert. The only way I’ll have a chance to beat her is to convince her I’m no threat at all.
I try to quell my irritation. I have to do this. For myself. For my brothers. But mostly, for Dad. He deserves justice.
When we pull up to the bar, two things hit me right away. First, despite Ash’s protests, it’s a dive. Granted, it’s a dive with charm, but the place looks as if it’s been here at least forty years, most of them without significant upgrades or improvements. Second, every single person appears to be having a great time—except the petite blonde who’s carrying a serving tray, wearing a strappy white bikini top and denim short-shorts, walking in my direction with shoulders squared and strides economical.
Her wide-set eyes, surrounded by a thick fringe of dark lashes, hit me like a sucker punch of green. Wisps of platinum hair manage to soften the sharp angles of her face, but her full mouth pressing into a severe line shouts a silent keep-away. Her cleavage, however—which looks one-hundred-percent real—lures me closer. I can’t help but gape as, chin raised, she strides past me, heading for the bartender on duty with purpose.
“That’s Bethany Banks?” I whisper to Ash, fighting my instant erection.
He merely sends me an I-told-you-so grin.
Damn. She’s fucking hot. Not just kind of. Not just a little. She’s smokin’. She’s a full-blown, five-alarm, inferno-inducing blaze. As much as I hate to acknowledge that, why lie?
Her pictures did notdo her justice. They all made her look like a corporate drone. This woman… Whoa.
I don’t stop to consider all the reasons I shouldn’t. I turn and watch her walk away.
The view from the back is equally stunning. Delicate strands of her pale hair tumble from a loose bun and brush her slender nape. Her intricate bikini top crisscrosses her shoulder blades and wraps around her narrow rib cage, the white fabric emphasizing the faintly peachy glow of her skin. Her hips, wrapped snugly in well-worn denim, flare below her tiny waist and sway enticingly with every step.
“Put your tongue back in your mouth if you’re not going to seduce her,” Ash whispers in my ear.
I rip my gaze from her to glare at him. But why bite his head off when he’s right?
5 Stars! “I nibbled my nails to nubs one minute and had to turn up the A/C the next. I enjoyed the hell out of every step of their journey and was sad to turn the final page. I wasn't ready for the goodness to end…sigh.”
– iScream Books Blog
5 Stars! “The More Than Words series is Shayla Black at her best—and this book is absolutely my favorite of the series so far.”
– USA Today bestselling author Angel Payne
Great Series! “I've loved getting to know all of these siblings and their journey to finding love.”
– Mindy Lou’s Book Review
Better and better! “Shayla Black writes stories that are strong, full of emotion, and gripping.”
– Goodreads Reviewer
5 Amazing Stars! “The author knows how to hold her readers' attention and always leaves them craving more. I loved this; I think it's become my favorite of all the books so far to this series.”
– The Sassy Nerd
5 Stars! “Shayla Black has written a super sexy yet emotionally pleasing story and I highly recommend it!”
– Goodreads Reviewer
5 Stars! “I love this series! Shayla Black is one of my favorite writers and she doesn’t disappoint in this new book in the series.”
– Goodreads Reviewer
5 Stars! “With a beautifully written story, Shayla Black has done it again. She creates characters her readers cannot help but fall in love with while her storyline locks you in from the opening pages.”
– The Overflowing Bookcase