Authors: rachelle Vaughn
Teres minor and major.
She imagined those big hands skimming over her body
, the stubble of his beard scratching her inner thighs…
“Is everything okay back there?”
Jace asked groggily. “You got awfully still all of a sudden.”
Violet squeezed her eyes shut and
tried to clear her throat. “Yeah,” she croaked.
“It felt so good, I was almost about to fall asleep.”
“Yeah.” Her cheeks turned pink and she cleared her throat again and started working her fingers up to his aforementioned neck. “I mean ‘yeah’ everything is okay, not ‘yeah’ it felt so good I was falling asleep too.”
and his whole body rumbled. Her rhythmic kneading left him so delirious, he didn’t even realize she’d prolonged his session by an extra ten minutes.
Violet went to the sink to wash the oil from her hands. When she turned off the faucet, she noticed they were shaking. “I’ll just step out so you can get dressed
,” she told Jace. “Take all the time you need.” Without waiting for a reply, Violet slipped from the room.
pulled the door shut and leaned against the wall. This was just a regular workday just like every other regular work day, she reminded herself. Clients came in, she and Patricia rid them of their aches and pains, they sent them on their way and a new batch of clients came in the next day. Some regulars, some first-timers, some hockey players with bodies like Greek gods and movie star smiles and rugged good looks.
sighed and pushed away from the wall.
* * *
When Jace came out of the massage room and into the lobby fully dressed, Patricia pounced on him like the ambitious business owner she was. “Good morning, Mr. McQuaid,” she greeted warmly. “I’m Patricia Liles, co-owner of Healing Touch. How was your massage this morning?” she asked sweetly.
Jace rotated his shoulders and rolled his neck around. “It was great
,” he answered sounding completely relaxed and rejuvenated.
Patricia said with obvious relief.
Violet frowned. Didn’t her best friend and business partner have
faith in her? Violet may have been a little disorganized and she might not have the natural grace that Patricia had, but she sure as hell could be counted on to give the best massage this side of the Rocky Mountains.
Patricia continued with her spiel without giving Violet a second glance. “Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you, Mr. McQuaid.”
“Thank you,” Jace said to Patricia and flashed her a smile. He made no move to leave, but looked over at Violet instead. “My offer to drive you to the gas station is still on the table.”
Violet’s first thought was to decline, but instead she listened to the tiny voice in her head. T
he one screaming
turned to Warden Patricia and asked, “How much time do I have before my next appointment?”
frowned and studied the meticulous schedule she kept. “Mr. Molinari had to push his appointment back, so you have about twenty-five minutes.”
Violet had a feeling she was padding the time, but it didn’t matter. Twenty-five minutes was
more than enough time.
“Perfect,” Violet said and turned back to Jace. “I think I’ll take you up on your offer.”
“Great.” His cell phone rang and he looked at the display. “Excuse me, ladies. I need to take this call. Violet, I’ll meet you outside.”
The two women watched him walk out of the office and into the windy parking lot.
Patricia shot Violet a warning look and Violet flounced down the hall to get her purse and coat, her step extra springy.
* * *
Jace saw the name on his caller ID and smiled. “Hey, little brother,” he answered.
The wind whipped through his coat, but he didn’t mind. The blast of frigid air was like a much-needed cold shower after Violet’s body-tingling massage.
Man, that woman knew how to manipulate more than his neck and shoulders.
“How’s sunny California?”
his younger brother, Donovan, asked.
sounded like he was down the street instead of 3000 miles away in Florida.
“It’s colder than
my ex-wife out here,” Jace joked. Then, in an effort to keep his bitterness at bay, he clamped his mouth shut.
Anything under ninety degrees and your old bones start creakin’.”
With Jace being thirty-seven and Donovan seventeen, the McQuaid brothers’ age difference was a staggering twenty years. Unfortunately they didn’t get to do any growing up together. By the time Donovan was born, Jace was already drafted into the UNHL and playing professional hockey.
Despite the age difference, Jace knew his brother was determined to follow in his footsteps.
Donovan would probably go on to be drafted by the Everblades or the Razors or maybe even an elite team like the Blizzards in Colorado. Jace couldn’t be prouder.
“The weather will be nice by the time I get there,” Donovan replied confidently.
“I’m coming to Cali for spring break!”
kid brother’s youthful enthusiasm crackled through the phone.
“Mom signed off on this?” Jace asked skeptically.
“Not yet but I’m workin’ on her.” He knew she would cave. She always did. “Dad doesn’t care one way or another. Either way they’re letting me fly out this summer.”
I look forward to it.”
Anything to keep busy until the Blades invite me for tryouts. Hey, will you pick me up at the airport?”
Just let me know when.”
Cool, thanks. Hey, I gotta go.”
Donovan always had to go somewhere. There was always something more important and more exciting than what he was currently doing.
“Yeah, me too,” Jace replied glancing at the door of Healing Touch. “I’ll see you in a few weeks.”
Jace ended the call and smiled. He looked forward to a visit from his little brother. If there was one thing he needed in his life it was a dash of youthfulness.
* * *
Back inside the SUV, Jace cranked the heater up to a Patricia-like setting, but Violet didn’t need it this time. There was enough heat between her thighs to start a small brush fire. She wiggled her bottom into the warm seat anyway. “Oh, my goodness, this is the most amazing thing I’ve felt in…a long time,” she admitted.
One look at her with her head back and lips parted and Jace wished her car was parked in the next zip code over
, so he could spend some more time with her.
“I can circle the block a few times if you want,” he said with a smirk.
She looked over at him and smiled. “No, that’s okay. As much as I’d like to, I don’t want Pats to kill me for being late to my next appointment.”
Jace silently wished
was her next appointment. And the one after that…
“She runs a tight ship,” he commented.
“Yeah. She’s not bad, though. She just wants the business to succeed.”
“Well, yeah, I want that, too, but sometimes you have to cut loose a little, you know?”
Jace shot her a knowing smile and she nearly melted into the leather seat.
“My brothers are going to flip when I tell them I got to ride in a Porsche today,” she said, changing the subject.
“Yeah, my two older brothers run an auto shop with my Dad restoring classic cars.”
He nodded. “That’s cool. Do they live here in Red Valley?”
Two of them do. My younger brother is on the road a lot. He plays guitar in a band.”
Really? Which band?”
Jace’s eyes widened. “Wow. I thought you meant like an amateur garage band or something. Crush 21 is
. Sometimes we listen to their stuff in the locker room to get pumped up before games. They’ve got that cute little lead singer, huh? What’s her name again?”
Violet smiled, thinking of her brother
’s vivacious band mate. “Cassidy St. Claire.”
Yeah, Cassidy, that’s the one. Wow, that’s pretty impressive, Violet. Your parents must be very proud.”
s.” Her parents were definitely proud of her brothers. Her mother never missed an opportunity to remind Violet of
accomplishments and success. Meanwhile, Violet remained chopped liver. “They never have a shortage of interesting tidbits for the annual family Christmas letter, that’s for sure,” she told Jace. “Unfortunately, my mom is currently experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome.”
“My brother is still in the nest for a few more months.”
“You have a younger brother?”
He jokes he’s young enough to be my son, but yeah, we’re brothers.”
looked around at the hi-tech controls on the dash. “So, you have an SUV.”
He looked at her with a funny expression. Hadn’t they already established that?
Sorry, it’s just that now that I know what you do for a living, I picture you driving something more along the lines of, oh, I don’t know…a red Ferrari.”
e smirked. “A red Ferrari?”
,” she said. Pro-athletes were always showing off their flashy rides and driving outrageously expensive vehicles, weren’t they?
“You know, it’s easy to imagine a hot shot hockey player driving a red Ferrari.”
Jace was flattered, but it had been years since he considered himself a hot shot
hockey player. Because of his age and his injuries, those days were slipping further and further behind him.
“Hot shot, huh?”
he asked. Splotches of pink crept into her cheeks and he shrugged. “A Ferrari
be fun, but I need the four-wheel-drive for the snow.”
Oh yeah? Where do you live?” She bit down on her lip. “Sorry. Is that too personal?” She’d just rubbed her hands over nearly every inch of his body and she was worried about being too personal.
“No, not at all
,” Jace reassured her. He would give her his social security number if he could get her to bite down on that lip again. “The address is probably in my file anyway,” he pointed out. “I have a cabin in August Lake.”
She whistled. “Nice. You must get quite a lot of snow up there being so close to Mt. August.”
“A few feet sometimes.”
Wow, a cabin
in August Lake. And she bet it wasn’t some dilapidated old shack in the woods either.
cell phone rang, interrupting Violet’s train of thought. “Is that yours or mine?” she asked, looking around for her phone.
“Yours,” he answered. He knew it wasn’t his because, ironically, his ring tone was
“The Zamboni Song.”
Violet four long rings to find her phone buried at the bottom of her purse. “Hello?” she finally answered. “Yes, Pats. Uh-huh.” She rolled her eyes at Jace.
, she mouthed. “That’s okay,” she said into the phone. “I’ll give him one of mine. I will. Okay. See you in a few…Hello?” Violet frowned at her phone. “My phone died.” When she looked at the display it showed plenty of bars, but no battery power. No juice. That fit in perfectly with the theme of the day. No gas. No juice. No filter on her mind as it strayed into hot and heavy territory every time she looked at Jace.
At the next stoplight,
Jace reached over to get something out of the glove department and his hand brushed against Violet’s knee. She sucked in a breath and squeezed her legs together. Plenty of juice there!
is was just great. She had just spent nearly an hour running her hands over his skin, but the minute
, her equilibrium shifted. This guy was more than she had a right to handle. And she had no right in handling any man who wasn’t her fiancé, she reminded herself.
Jace handed her his universal cell phone charger. “You can charge it on the way to your car. It’ll give you enough power to get you back to your office at least.”
Violet plugged in the phone and settled back into the warmth of her seat. Were there really other men out there in the world like Jace? She highly doubted it. He seemed a bit too good to be true.