Mia Bradshaw realized long ago that falling in love is a harbinger of pain. As a single mom working for one of the most prestigious venture capital firms in the country, she doesn’t have time for serious emotional entanglements. Her sort-of–friend boy is dependable, respectful and…okay, fine, maybe a little lukewarm but whatever! Who ever said there was anything wrong with being…vanilla? It’s safe, low-risk and not fraught with conflict and heart wrenching disappointment.
Chris Camden is one of the most eligible bachelors in northern California. A successful entrepreneur with a hot car and a panty-dropping grin doesn’t need to do much to keep his bed warm at night. His smoldering hazel-eyed gaze makes women melt at his feet. No strings, no conditions, no questions - just the way he likes it. Why should he settle for just one when there are so many sizzling alternatives begging for a spin?
A coveted opportunity to partner with Chris’s company stirs up emotions that threaten everything Mia’s been so careful to protect and control. The guy with more lines than a crowded supermarket before a snowstorm can singe her insides with the slightest accidental touch, proof that she needs to steer clear.
But reality hurls a very unexpected curve ball that can change Mia’s life in a heartbeat. And sometimes…the perception of safety is relative.
“Hey!” Chris’s face lit up. “I didn’t know you’d be here today.”
“Yeah, Alison invited me. Said you guys need to learn a thing or two about jump shots.”
A sexy grin appeared. “I’d gladly sign up for any instruction you’re willing to provide.”
Jesus, the guy was ridiculously forward. The hairs on her arms stood at attention under his appraising gaze. She cocked her head to one side. “Tsk-tsk. Do you really think I’ll fall for that line?”
“If that one doesn’t work, I can try another.”
She laughed and slapped the basketball away from him. “Don’t waste your breath. Come on, we’ve got some time before everyone else shows up. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
“Oh, so this is how it is. You need to be the one in control.” He snickered as he ran after her. “That’s cool. I love it when the ladies grab the reins. It’s hot.”
“Are you always this brazen? Especially with business associates?”
“Are you always this high-strung? Especially with business associates?” His smile made her toes curl and inspired very naughty thoughts about how much more inappropriate she’d like him to be.
“Relax, I’m just kidding around. I’m sorry if I offended you. I promise to behave myself now.” He nodded toward the net. “Go ahead, take the shot.”
She narrowed her eyes and trotted toward the basket, gaining speed as she approached. With a gravity-defying leap, she slammed the ball through the net. Her feet hit the concrete, and she let out a satisfied sigh. God, it felt so good every time she did that.
“Nice. Now, watch what I can do.” He grabbed the ball and took off toward the opposite end of the court, taunting her. “Come on, don’t you have any moves left to show off?”
She gritted her teeth and ran after him. A swift block caught him off-guard but not enough to drop the ball.
“Wow! Girl’s aggressive!” He swung around, faking a shot. “Don’t get mad. Here, try again.”
He held out the ball and snatched it away. She grunted and slapped at it, but his grip was too tight.
“I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.”
“You’re about to foul me.” And, oh Lord, she couldn’t wait.
“Is that going to be a problem?”
Her eyes popped open wide. He laughed and rushed past her, running backward toward the net.
“Try to catch me now! You know you want—” He spun around, ready to shoot.
Mia gasped. Chris slammed face-first against the metal pole. So much for his layup. With a loud groan, he fell to the ground. “Dammit!”
She ran over. “Oh my God! Are you okay?”
“My nose. Christ, that fucking hurt!”
“Let me see.”
He uncovered his face and flashed a sheepish grin. “Am I still pretty?”
“You’re just fine. How do you feel? Is your head okay?”
“Yeah.” He staggered to his feet. “Real smooth, huh?”
“You’ve definitely got game, Camden.”
He winced and covered his nose again. “I hope it’s not broken.”
“I don’t think it’s broken, but you’re bleeding.”
“What?” He pulled his hand away, eyes wide. “Shit.”
“It’s not stopping. Do you have a towel or a shirt or something? It’s getting worse.”
He held his head and swayed backward. “Ohhh.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I can’t handle the sight of blood.”
“Even your own?”
“Especially my own.” He moaned and clutched his stomach, unsteady on his feet. “I think I’m gonna—”
“Oh!” His body went limp, and she caught him right before he hit the ground. Having his body plastered against hers had been a lot hotter in her fantasies. “Chris!” She tapped his cheeks. “Come on, wake up!”
His hazel eyes fluttered open a second later, and she let out an exasperated sigh. “Seriously?”
“Look, I’m not perfect. Sorry to disappoint you.” He touched his nose and grimaced. “It’s still bleeding, isn’t it?”
“Yes, badly. Just don’t look, okay? I can’t drag your dead weight to the EMS station.” She pulled off her hoodie. “Take this.”
“Pink, huh? Are sweats the only things you buy from Victoria’s Secret?”
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