Pass the grits and call me y’all! Jasmine Bloom, queen of the bodice rippers for three decades, never thought she would become a victim of writer’s block. When family stress causes Cathy Morrow, who writes as Jasmine Bloom, to miss a deadline, Blaylock Publishing accepts a mysterious invitation for Cathy to visit The Mountain Ridge Resort to revive her muse.
Divorced for two decades with three grown children and two grandsons living in her home, Cathy can’t find the inspiration she needs to write the sizzling-hot romances that gained her fame and fortune. At the resort, Cathy meets a hot maintenance worker who warms the cool nights. Will she be content to role-play his favorite scorching-hot love scenes from her novels then return home to her dull routine?
The caretaker’s job at the resort allows billionaire John Murdock to live the life he loves in the Blue Ridge Mountains and keep a centuries-old family vow. When Cathy Morrow arrives at the resort, she lights a fire he’d banked years ago. Will she look beyond his white hair and menial job to appreciate what he offers—passion with the prospect for love?
Cathy scarfed up John’s desserts and then sipped her wine. “I’ll need to take a long walk tomorrow.”
John topped off her wineglass. “So that’s how you keep in good shape.”
“You think I’m in good shape?”
She tensed as his eyes wandered over her body.
She could tell he meant it. “Thank you. I try. Not that there’s anyone to notice.”
He leaned closer. “That’s a shame. You don’t have a boyfriend?”
She shook her head. “You overheard our conversation this afternoon. There hasn’t been anyone for a very long time.”
He ran his fingers along her arm. “Would you like for there to be?”
She pulled her arm away. “I have family and work responsibilities. There’s no way I would bring a man into my home. It’s too crowded there. He’d take one look at my family and run for the nearest exit.”
He smiled. She really liked that smile of his. Beautiful white teeth, probably his own, maybe a few veneers.
“You’re not at home, Cathy. You’re staying in the most luxurious suite of a five-star resort and dining at a four-diamond restaurant. Your friend is busy for the rest of the night with a banker boy ten years her junior.”
She sipped her wine. “How do you know where she is, who she’s with, and how old she is?”
“I make a point of knowing what is happening at the resort. There’s a copy of her driver’s license on file. It’s the law.”
“You looked at mine, too?”
“Yes. You’re fifty-six. I would never have guessed it. You are beautiful. Not just beautiful for your age, but for any age. You’ll be beautiful at eighty. By the way, I’m fifty-eight and proud of every year. Does it matter to you?”
John was flirting with her. How long had it been since she’d flirted with a handsome man? Way too long. Could she play the game? Perhaps. Did she want to? Hell, yes! “No, but you’re handsome.”
“You think so? Thank you. I’m glad to hear that.”
Damn they were moving fast! “You’re welcome. Why?”
“Because when I proposition you, you won’t be too pissed off if my performance is not up to par. It’s been a while for me too.”
Oh my god! This wasn’t happening. Not to her, at least. It had been so long. “You’re going to proposition me?”
He laid his hand over hers. “Would you like for me to?”
Cathy had to think for a moment. She gulped downed the last of her wine and held out her glass.
He smiled as he poured a refill. “Liquid courage?”
She laughed nervously and took a deep, cleansing breath to calm down. “I need some. I came here to finish writing a hot romance novel, not hop into bed with a man I met a few hours ago.”
He squeezed her hand. “Wouldn’t you like a bit of romance yourself?”
Her heart raced as she considered the prospect of sex with a handsome man. “I thought you said the staff avoided one-night stands with the guests.”
John shrugged those broad shoulders. “I said ‘usually.’ There’s no rule against it, if you’re agreeable. To be honest, I don’t often associate with the guests, but I find you fascinating. A welcome change from most of our usual guests. A beautiful and gracious lady to admire—and desire.”
The unfamiliar tingle of lust raced along pathways that she’d shut down years ago. He was a handsome devil. It had been so long since she flirted with a man, especially one who claimed to admire and desire her. She was in a romantic place with a very handsome man. Maybe she should take a page from Mickie’s book and do something for herself.
When her husband deserted the family, she’d focused on raising three young children and writing to support them all. Years later, when she finally had some time to date, she’d learned her lesson about bringing men to her home. It just wasn’t in her cards. She’d put off her prospects for a social life until the children were grown and living on their own. And how had that worked for her? In the last few years, her grown children and two grandchildren moved home and her home situation was more difficult than ever. Would there ever be a better time for a romantic interlude than now?
Cathy took a deep breath and dove in. “I would like some romance in my life, to be honest. It’s not likely to happen for me in Jersey, but I can’t be like Mickie and ‘enjoy the men.’ It works for her, but it’s not for me. I would be uncomfortable if we left here together, considering what you said about everyone knowing everyone else’s business.”
“No one here would judge you, Cathy. You might not understand our customs here, but you treat everyone with courtesy and respect. That’s very important to us. ‘The mystery’ aside, you’ve already won over the staff—and me—but we can be as circumspect as you wish. One night or the whole week, if you’re willing. A secret between us.”
Cathy noticed the sparkle in John’s gorgeous blue eyes. He probably thought he’d won her over but was awaiting her answer. She was nervous, but the tingle she’d felt earlier made her bold. She’d thought it gone forever, but perhaps not. Maybe she could leave the resort with more than a completed book. Maybe a hot romance with a handsome man was exactly what she needed.
She drained her glass. “Stay here for a bit after I leave then meet me outside the suite in five minutes.”
John released her hand, leaned back in his chair, and smiled. “Yes, ma’am.”