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Bodyguards for Hire - Book #1
by T.A. Grey
One fateful tail-bender leaves Mara Colgen with a hard-on for Jace Mathews which is not how Mara anticipated meeting the hottest man alive. Or, rather, one crappy afternoon bodyguard Jace gets a rude awakening when some cutesy blonde rear-ends his beautiful truck. Now he’s really in for it. Mara’s pretty, funny, and has the greatest job in the world…
She is a sex toy operator.
Just those three words send Jace into a dream-like coma plagued with erotic imagery featuring the spunky sex toy operator. As luck would have it for Jace, nothing’s easy. Mara comes to him with a problem…one he cannot refuse to help her out with. Someone strange keeps calling Mara, she thinks someone’s been in her house, and worse Jace might be thinking the same thing. Mara needs help and Jace finds he’s the right man to lend a (strong) helping hand—so long as they seal the deal with more than a kiss.
- Series: Bodyguards for Hire, Book 1
- Publication Date: August 27, 2013
- Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
- Length: Novel ~55,000
Meet the Characters
- Age: 36
- Hometown: Miami
- Favorites: Cute girls
- Dislikes: People who text while driving
- Car: Black truck
- Occupation: Bodyguard
- Loves: Kissing, sweet women
- Age: 32
- Hometown: Tampa Bay
- Favorites: Sex toys ("Mr. Kinky"), highlander romance novels, Entertainment Weekly
- Dislikes: Soup, relationships
- Car: Red VW Bug
- Occupation: Sex toy operator
- Loves: Kissing, hunky men
"There is nothing about this book I didn’t like. It was funny, had explosive sex scenes, and equally interesting secondary characters. This is a great, quick read for anyone curious about T.A. Grey’s books. 5 cocktails!"
-COCKTAILS AND BOOKS
"What a hot sexy read! Jace by T.A. Grey is the first book of her Bodyguards for Hire Series and I have to say I want more! A contemporary romance with some sizzling erotica, lots of witty moments, a dash of danger and a couple you can’t help but love, this book has it all."
-The Reading Café
""This story will yank you in and hold you hostage until the very last word. It's a page turner that has captivating characters, interesting plot lines and danger around every twist and turn.""
"This novel is packed full of nonstop action, nail biting suspense, and sizzling romance. I found the story fully engaging and the characters entirely delightful and enchanting. Jace is a novel that will warm the readers’ hearts and possibly the sheets as well."
- Night Owl Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick!
Mara Colgen’s phone vibrated in her lap with another call. The sixth one since she left work...four minutes ago. Rolling her eyes she braked at the red light behind a big black truck and checked her phone. It was the same number as the last five calls and she still had no idea who it was.
Mara hated ignoring phone calls. She always felt as though the moment her phone rang she had to jump to and answer it. As if she might never, ever be able to find out who called, what they wanted, and why. Really she acted as if she didn’t have caller ID and voicemail.
The light turned green and Mara headed down Franklyn Boulevard. The street always brought a smile to her face. It was her favorite. It was small and cozy with cafes, pastry shops, vintage clothing stores, vintage vinyl stores, tattoo parlors and other trendy shops. The coffee shops even let customers bring their small dogs inside. Most of which were carried on the arm of a girl with too much tan.
Mara had never actually been to any of these places. She and her friends preferred movies nights at home with booze, popcorn, and food. They got together once a week to talk about their co-workers, husbands, other friends, and so on. Although Mara never had much to complain about her co-workers. After all, she worked as a sex toy operator and with all the orgasms she and the other ladies at work had, they were all pretty happy most days. And as for the husband thing, well, Mara never had one. Not even once. Heck, even her currently single friends had all been through that “married” stent before. Almost made Mara feel left out from the party.
“There you go again.”
Mara thought over her bills but knew she was paid up on time. This was no bill collector. She’d also been getting strange calls recently and though she was hesitant to admit it to herself, she thought it might be him. Now, she had no proof it was a him. He never spoke. All she had to go on was her gut feeling. The person who liked to call her over the past few months, but never said a word. Not one. Yet he called. Sometimes it’d be days before she’d hear anything and she’d forget all about the strange calls and move on. Or sometimes it’d be ten, fifteen, even twenty times a day. He never left a message, never breathed like a creep into the phone. Aside from it being harassment she didn’t know what to make of it.
Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm.
Worse, she hated to talk on the phone while driving. Her strict no cell phone use while driving included texting, video chats, or trying to take pictures while operating a two ton war machine—AKA, her little VW Bug.
Vvvrrrrm. Vrrrrm Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm.
Only the calls didn’t stop. They went on and on. Street after street, she continued to press the off button to cancel the call. When the person called again she’d let the call go to see if they would leave a voicemail. No go.
On and on it went. Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm Vrrrrrm.
More streets passed and still she trailed the shiny black track in front of her while that stupid phone vibrated with each new call in her lap.
Another call. Another. Another…until she finally snapped. “What?!” she yelled into the phone.
Silence met her on the other end of the line.
“Stop calling me you damn weirdo!”
No breathing, nothing, yet she knew someone was listening. If a police officer asked how she knew all she could say was it was a gut-feeling.
Yeah, nothing she could prove in court.
“That’s it. I’m going to get this number tracked and turn it over to the police. I’m sure you’ll have a great day when they bust down your door for harassment!”
She hung up, breathing hard. When her gaze flicked back up to the road, it was too late. She slammed on the brakes but it didn’t matter. Her little VW Bug barreled into the beautifully shining black truck.
The air bag exploded, slamming her head backward and making everything all fuzzy.
“Huh?” she mumbled, blinking slowly.
A high-pitched sound rang in her ears and slowly solidified like someone turning a dial up. That ringing became her horn which was constantly wailing. A glance out of the broken windshield made her breath catch.
A tall, gorgeous, way-too-muscled-to-be-real man was reaching under her hood looking pissed off. Hot and pissed off. Why hello, gorgeous, her feminine side purred. He did something under the hood and her horn stopped blaring. Her eyes flared. He fixed it. She liked this man already. Any man who was handy with cars was handy in the bedroom, or at last that’s what she’d heard. She eyed his hand, totally not creepy, and saw no wedding band on his finger.
Please don’t be a gay. Bi would work, but not gay.
His eyes met hers. Yep, he was very pissed off. He looked down right violent. Then he threw open her car door and got in her face. All she saw were pretty gray eyes. The kind that almost looked blue but were really more gray than blue. He had a black ball cap pulled low over his eyes, a white t-shirt, jeans, and boots. And he was glaring at her.
“Ahem,” she cleared her throat. “I’m very sorry about all this. Your truck was very...nice.” She attempted a smile.
His eyes narrowed in an are-you-shitting-me look. “Lady, what the fuck’s the matter with you? How did you not see me? My truck takes up most of the damn road.” His eyes flicked down to her lap and his jaw actually snapped to the side. She could hear it crack. “Fucking texting. You little bitch, you know that’s against the law for a reason right?”
Her jaw fell open in shock but before she could respond to his name calling he threw his hand up in her face. Actually threw his hand up. In her face.
“Don’t wanna hear it, lady. Get your license and registration. I’m callin’ the cops.”
He left before she could form a reply. Only after he wasn’t in her face could she take a calm breath. “Well that didn’t go well, Mara.” She giggled a little, an involuntary response that she swore couldn’t be helped, and grabbed the necessary items he’d ordered her to get. She met him at his truck as he was getting off the phone.
“They’ll be by soon to make a report.”
He went back to the back of his truck, shaking his head. From his profile she noticed he had a hard, sleek jawline covered in rough stubble several days too thick, and hollowed cheek bones. He had a hard looking forehead. Weird, she never recalled noticing someone’s forehead before but his looked like he could bash someone’s skull in with it. Nice.
He was mumbling under his breath about women drivers and texting. That’s where she had to stop him. Hot or not, he was wrong about her.
“Listen here, hot cakes, I wasn’t texting. I don’t text.”
His eyes snapped to her, looked her body up and down then he cocked a brow. “Oh yeah? Well I don’t believe that bullshit for a second.”
“Why not? I don’t make it a point to lie to strangers.”
“Oh yeah? You save the lying for your dear friends instead?”
She thought about, then nodded. “Actually, yes. Those are the people whose opinions I actually care about so if I’m going to lie about something like, say, thinking my mom’s new dress is pretty when I hate it, then I’ll lie.”
His eyes narrowed but his mouth slowly opened in a full mask of confusion. After she finished her little speech though he nodded once, a jerk of his head. A silent form of agreement. She wanted to fist pump at her victory but kept her energy reigned in.
“I was actually on the phone.”
He threw up his arms, shaking his head. “That’s illegal in this state, lady.”
“Oh, I’ve upgraded from bitch. Very nice.” She couldn’t help smiling at him.
His brow pinched forward. “Now is not the time for jokes. You just wrecked my rear end.”
Speaking of, her gaze fell down to his ass and verified that indeed it looked as hot as the rest of him. Mmm, mmm, good as her friends would say.
“Excuse me, did you just check out my ass?”
She made a perfect oh did I just do that? face. “Maybe.” She cocked her head, gauging his response.
He looked like he might say something, then shook his head. “If you think being cute with me is gonna get you out of this then you’re shit out of luck.” He took out his phone and started snapping pictures of the wreckage. She quickly did the same, since he just reminded her she should be doing that.
Standing next to him trying not to smile, and utterly failing, she snapped pictures for her insurance company. “So you think I’m cute?”
“What the fuck?” Shaking his head, he made some noise between laugh and disbelief. “Hand over your license and registration.”
Snickering at his cop-voice, she handed him the docs. He looked them over, paying special interest to her driver’s license. She knew what he’d find there: 5’5”, brown eyes, blonde, and a weight she refused to even think aloud. Not too shabby if she did say so herself. Which she did often while checking herself out in the mirror after a shower.
“Oh just a sec,” she said, suddenly remembering. She grabbed her business card out of her wallet and handed it to him. “Here’s my business card. Keep it. In case there’s any problems along the way. I’ll be sure to fix your truck. I really am sorry. If it helps, I’ve only been in two accidents before.”
He took the card but didn’t look at her. “Two? Lady, you make that sound like it’s not a lot.”
“You know how many accidents I’ve caused in my life? Zero.”
“Well aren’t you fancy.” Her lips twitched again. Who knew teasing such a big, sexy man would be so much fun.
He sent her a withering glare then looked down at her card. It was a light pink with red, fancy lettering. “Mara Colgen, sex toy operator...” he said the words slowly as if not understanding them.
“Yes.” Honestly, one of her favorite parts about having her job was the reactions she got when people found out.
“You are a sex toy operator,” he said again.
“Mmhmm. Sure am.” Another winning smile. He didn’t even lift his gaze from the card.
“Tell me darlin’ what does that actually mean?”
Oh, now she was darlin’? Oh how her position had moved up in the world. She was bitch only five minutes ago. “Well, as you can see from that card I work at Aphrodite’s Love and we are one of the biggest designers and distributers of adult sex toys. I’m a tester. I also help the production team tweak designs and things like that.”
“You...” he scratched the back of his head, flicked his gaze down her body again, then continued in that slow, measured way. “Your job is to try out sex toys for a living?”
Her eyes lit up. Little more pleased her than talking about her job. “Yes! I love my job. I seriously have one of the lowest stress jobs in the world. Did you know that? Just today I got to test out a new vibrator---”
The wail of a police siren interrupted the conversation. Just when it was getting good. The police officer came and she fessed up to the phone call distracting her from driving. The officer didn’t seem to care much that she’d ignored the caller the first eleven times. After all was said in done she had a feeling her insurance rates were about to go up. The officer left, leaving her alone with him again. The hottest man she’d even seen up close and personal in her life.
Or, Mr. Jace Mathews, as the officer had called him.
How is it that the man’s name was even sexy? The man must have been born lucky. His parents could have named him Maynard or Ted or Ruby Sue. But no, not this guy. This was Jace Mathews, a man who drove a big black truck. As far as knowing much about him, aside from the fact that he looked to be in his later thirties, Mara planned to rectify that.
Jace put away the cop’s paperwork in his truck then strode to her. The man actually strided. How could he not with those long, sinewy legs? He thrust a card at her and she read it.
Jace Mathews. Surveillance. Protection. Bodyguard. It listed a work number and said SPS at the top. Superior Protective Services.
“You’re a bodyguard.” She arched a brow at that, almost not buying it.
“Among other things, yeah. What of it?”
“Seriously, I’m supposed to believe that?”
His face contorted into a confused look. “Believe what, lady? That is my job. You wanna see my damn name badge too?”
“Nah, forget it. I just want to get out of here. It’s been a helluva day already and this was the icing on the cake right here.”
“Really you shouldn’t be so angry. My car’s barely going to make it home. It might even combust on me or something and then I might die. At most, I wrecked your tailgate. Doesn’t seem fair.”
He eyed her car then pulled out his phone again, cursing and mumbling so low she couldn’t make out the words. A minute later he turned to her. “I got a tow truck coming to get you. In the meantime I’m taking you home.”
“Excuse me?” She couldn’t help but feel that several steps had been bypassed here.
“The tow driver works for SPS. He’ll take it to the lot or an auto shop. I’d recommend the lot until you’re sure which auto shop you wanna use.”
“Okay,” she said slowly. “So I don’t need to wait here and sign anything.”
“Just get your shit and let’s go.” He got into his truck and slammed the door shut, waiting for her.
Well then. Mara grabbed her shit and got up into Mr. Jace Mathew’s truck. The truck took off on a loud roar. His engine put hers to shame.
“You really work with sex toys?” he asked a minute later.
She fought a grin. “Sure do, cutie. Are you really a bodyguard with the name Jace Mathews?”
He gave her another strange look. “Yeah, what’s so weird about that?”
“It wouldn’t be weird if you looked like a normal guy, had a normal name, and a normal job.”
“Lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Mara Colgen. Call me Mara.”
He was quiet for a moment. “Where do you live...Mara?” He sounded hesitant to use her name…as if it might curse him.
She gave him her address, sat back, and waited. “I really am sorry about your truck. I don’t believe in using cell phones while driving but this creep keeps calling me and at the time he’d dialed me twelve times. I finally just answered to cuss him out. That’s about when I sort of took my eyes off the road.”
His body tensed, eyes grew hard. “You got a problem? Stalker? A crazy ex-boyfriend, co-worker, husband, friend?”
Her eyes widened. “What? No. At least, I don’t think so.” She laughed. “Who’d stalk me? I’m so plain and boring.”
Now he was laughing, a choked sound that left him banging on his chest until he cleared his throat. “Darlin’, you’re anything but boring.”
Her cheeks warmed with a blush. “Why thank you tall, dangerous, and handsome.”
It looked like he was fighting a smile or a laugh. “Are you flirting with me?”
She could play coy, but it wasn’t her style. Besides it wasn’t every day she met a man like Jace Mathews. You only got once in a lifetime opportunism...once. She wouldn’t be wasting it.
Laughing, he sent her a warm look as he navigated the roads. “Mara Colgen, sex toy operator and cute as can be making me feel like a regular hero.”
“If you’re a bodyguard then you probably are a hero.”
“Nah, we get some clients that need physical protection but mostly we do surveillance, protection of property, things like that.”
“Protection of property, what does that mean? Is that like watching someone’s house or car?”
He shook his head. “More like jewelry, special documents, things of that nature. We ensure nothing happens to it while transporting it. We also set up security systems. Things of that nature.”
“Ah,” she said.
He smiled at her, making her body feel warm all over. “So now you know what I do at my job. I wanna know more about yours. You were mentioning a vibrator earlier...” His look dared her to chicken out and be bashful now.
Screw that. She loved her job, her toys, and embraced it. “Yes, I get to try out all kinds of sex toys, dildos, strap ons, vibrators, anal plugs, nipple clamps, Ben Wa balls, masturbators...the list is large.”
“And today you got to try a vibrator?” His voice sounded strangled.
Dang she was having fun. “Sure did. Today I was testing a new butterfly design, as they call it. It’s bright pink, has three speeds, and a little antennae that’ll tickle your clit like you wouldn’t believe. The difference with this model compared to others is a more bulbous head on the tip of the shaft. We’re trying that out. With some designs the thick end is at the base, but this one is supposed to hit the G-spot better.”
“And does it?”
She grinned at him. “No, not for me but one of the other testers, my dear friend Tia, said it worked for her. Sometimes that’s how these toys work, they fit in some vaginas better than others.”
All too soon he pulled up in front of her house and killed the engine.
“Mara Colgen, sex toy tester. This has been a strange afternoon, lady.” He sent her a smile that downright curled her toes.
She thought ahead ten minutes from now and pictured herself standing in her house alone and empty-handed. She would never see this man again unless she did something about that.
“Give me your number!” she blurted out. This time she did blush.
He raised an eyebrow. “You want my number?” He looked surprised or maybe just confused.
“Yeah, you know. So I can...talk to you.”
“Give me my card back.”
“What?” she said, suddenly fiercely protective of the business card he’d given her.
He smiled, two cute dimples forming in his scruffy cheeks. “I’ll return it, promise.”
Begrudgingly, she handed it to him. He grabbed a pen from the middle console and scribbled some numbers on it.
“Those are real numbers, right?” she asked.
He laughed. “As opposed to?”
“You know, a local pizzeria’s number or something.”
He just looked at her. “Mara, this is my cell number and I want you to call me...to talk.”
“Okay,” she said, snatching the card. “Have a nice day, Jace. And watch your rear end.” She smiled at her cheeky double entendre.
The grin he sent her made her dizzy. She closed the truck door behind her, already missing the cozy seat. “I thought I’d leave you to watch my rear end. Since you seem to like it.”
With that, he gave her a wave and took off.
She watched him go, wondering if she’d just hit the jackpot.