Title: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor
The McKinney Brothers Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
New York Times bestselling author Claudia Connor follows up her heartfelt debut, Worth the Fall, with a novel about Matt’s brother, Stephen—and when a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.
Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.
Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.
Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.
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“I guess I could meet you somewhere.”
He cocked his head, resisted giving her the head-to-toe perusal he wanted to. “Is that the best deal I’m going to get?”
“It’s the only deal you’re going to get.”
In the second their eyes connected, he caught a touch of sass before she looked away. Cute. Very cute, on top of being very beautiful. “Okay. Reno’s.” If she was surprised at Norfolk’s exclusive, impossible-to-get-into restaurant, she didn’t show it. His phone rang and, without taking his eyes from hers, he slipped it out of his pocket. “Seven thirty?”
She gave a swift nod and escaped to her car.
As a businessman he knew compromise could often get you farther. And sometimes, he thought, sliding into the deep black leather, it was best to let your opponent think they’d won.
He brought the cell to his ear. “Hey, Adam, what’s up?” As he listened to the young intern he’d recently taken on, he watched Hannah leave the parking lot.
“So how should I reply?”
Stephen started his own car and pulled out. “You tell them the deal’s off. They want to sell more than we want to buy. That’s the point. Find out why they’re so eager and then we squeeze. Three to one he caves by midweek.” Which were better odds than his date showing up tonight.
“And that’s why you’re the shark.”
Stephen smiled at the young man’s enthusiasm. “I’ll be back in the office in twenty.” He ended the call and dropped his phone into the console, his mind more on a golden-haired angel than a major land acquisition. He had other acquisitions in mind.
His smile grew at the thought as he muscled into midday traffic and took the I-4 into downtown. Breast-hugging tank top he’d only gotten a peek of thanks to the shirt she wore over it. That shirt had also partially blocked his view of a very fine ass. Just the right curves in addition to a sinfully sexy mouth. And a single tear tracking down her cheek that had twisted something inside him. Not at all the kind of thing he liked.
He preferred happy and carefree, conceited and self-involved. All of which turned the spotlight on someone else and turned both parties away from matters of the heart. But he was a man who got what he wanted, and the longer he’d stood there beside her car, the more he’d wanted Hannah. Plus, she’d said no. That alone had sealed her fate.
Feeling triumphant, Stephen pulled up to his office located in one of Norfolk’s newest high-rises—his high-rise. All glass and sleek metal, the silver edges gleaming in the afternoon sun, the space between reflecting the clear blue sky.
Damn, he loved this building. And he should, he’d had a lot to do with the design. More than that, it had come at a time when he’d needed it most. His tangible proof that he’d made it through the nightmare that had almost destroyed him.
But it hadn’t. The glass building stood, breakable but surviving. And so was he.
He crossed the cool lobby, his dress shoes clicking against the smooth black marble, and keyed into his private elevator. He gave a smile and a nod to the young blonde manning the main desk as the doors closed, taking him swiftly to the top of his own company, Trace Development.
He strode down the hallway to his home away from home. He’d been gone longer than he’d planned, working hard for a date with an alluring woman who’d shown a hint of sadness.
He didn’t slow down as his admin got up from behind her desk. “You have six calls. Tanner and Associates and Robert Sinclair are the most pressing. You have a conference call with Mr. Jiāng at two.” She quick-stepped to keep pace with him. She had no choice.
Stephen smiled at his straightforward administrative assistant. In a black skirt and standard white blouse ruffling out at the top, she looked as formidable as ever. Her crisp voice and gray bob only added to her air of efficiency. “Thank you, Dee.”
First order of business was to cancel his prior commitment for the evening, easy enough. He sat at his desk and pulled up the number. He’d had a fun couple of weeks, but things between him and Nicole had run their course and they both knew it. She’d been the one to cancel last time. Women used him for his money and prestige. He used them for . . . some would say sex. He thought of it more as sleep aid without the pills.
Claudia Connor is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of heartfelt contemporary romance. Claudia attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and travel, but spends most of her time typing out the love stories of the almost real people that live in her head. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.
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