Authors: Robyn Neeley
Copyright © 2016 by Robyn Neeley.
All rights reserved.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher; exceptions are made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.
an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200
Blue Ash, OH 45242. U.S.A.
ISBN 10: 1-4405-9555-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-9555-4
eISBN 10: 1-4405-9554-2
eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-9554-7
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author's imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.
Cover art © 123RF/Kuna George, © romancenovelcovers.com.
Thank you for purchasing a Crimson Romance novel. Please sign up for our
for information on new releases, contests, discounts and more.
Guac Olé CEO Grayson Cooper stepped into the Silver Spurs—a man on a mission.
He scanned the crowded country-and-western watering hole, more than ready to zero in on his target and take aim.
Unfortunately, Becca Nash hadn’t arrived.
Scott, the bartender and his former classmate in high school, greeted him with a finger pointed up. “Hey, pretty boy, you know what we do with ties in here.” He nodded to the ceiling at all the colorful, mutilated neckties decorating the joint.
“Thanks for the warning.” Grayson selected an empty two-top table and sat down. There was no way his Armani silk one was going to become a ceiling ornament. He loosened it and looked around.
He’d chosen the Silver Spurs for drinks with his Guac Olé line supervisor–turned–majority shareholder thanks to his late father willing away fifty percent of the company shares to her, because the popular Sweet Ridge honky-tonk might be more her simple, country girl speed. A place she’d feel comfortable in to kick up her cowboy boots. Not that he had any clue where she hung out, or had asked where she might like to meet for drinks.
That would have involved having a conversation, and he preferred sending a note via his assistant, Eleanor.
Although he’d been taken aback when she returned with the news Becca would meet him, but not at seven o’clock like he’d suggested.
And now it was ten past eight. Grayson scanned the crowded bar. His brothers, Gavin and Gage, always teased him that he never quite fit in to small-town Sweet Ridge life, and they were probably right. He certainly didn’t frequent stereotypical Texas bars other than the Silver Spurs from time to time with his brothers, but he loved his Dallas Cowboys, and watching games here was his routine during football season. So what if he wore a suit—sans tie—while doing it.
Fixing his gaze on a menu, he went over his plan again. Once Becca arrived, he’d compliment her on her outfit, because from his experience, all women liked it when a man noticed what they were wearing.
He’d then engage in chitchat about the factory. Get her talking until she let her hair down. Once she loosened up, he’d offer to buy her out. Sure, he’d take a hit from his trust fund, but he’d eventually recoup the money. He pulled out of his suit jacket his monogrammed note card with the price he’d offer that he intentionally lowballed. He doubted she’d realize it. It was probably more money than she could ever imagine.
Confident, he set the card to the side. There was no way she’d say no.
“Oh, my stars! If it isn’t Grayson Cooper. Here at the Silver Spurs, and the Cowboys aren’t even in pre-season yet.”
He grinned up at the firecracker redhead he’d known since middle school. “What can I say? I missed your nachos. How’s it going, Meg?”
“I can’t complain. Another day, another paycheck.”
“Well, you look great. Is that a new hair color?”
She tossed her shoulder-length mane. “Do you like it? I’m almost done with my cosmetology classes and did the color myself.” She lowered her voice. “Hoping to get out of this joint in a couple months.” Her lips curled up. “I’ve got a chair at the Loose Curls beauty salon when I’m done.”
“It’s a shame Scott will lose his prettiest waitress.”
She smiled, and he could see the color in her cheeks start to match her pink lipstick. “Now, don’t go flirting with me, Mr. Charmer. I’ve heard the talk around town.”
No doubt she was referring to his and Becca’s inevitable courtship. And as far as he was concerned, Gavin and Gage were to blame for those rumors by falling in love with both of the women who’d inherited what their dad had promised them.
The whole town suspected that Grayson and Becca were the next-to-be-crowned couple.
That wasn’t going to happen. “Don’t believe everything you hear,” he scoffed.
She smacked her gum and pulled out her order pad. “You here by yourself?”
“Someone is joining me.” No need to fuel the gossip fire any earlier than he needed to. As soon as Becca arrived, it was sure to ignite all on its own. “Can I grab a gin and tonic and some nachos?”
His order seemed to amuse her as she shook her head. “Grayson, you have to be the only man in Sweet Ridge who would order a gentleman’s drink in a honky-tonk with a working-class appetizer.”
“What can I say? I’m a fish out of water,” he joked and stared down at the menu. Deep down, that statement was true. It never really bothered him.
Maybe it should. Neither Gavin nor Gage had ever had any trouble fitting in here. Before he could think more on that subject, Becca arrived, and Grayson couldn’t help noticing that several male heads turned her way. Meg greeted her and pointed to the table, giving Grayson a big ol’ “
you can’t fool me
Becca walked over and for reasons he couldn’t explain, his heart began to race. He stood and pulled out the chair opposite him for her. “Um … hi. You look beau—” He stopped in horror, getting a good look at her.
She was wearing a white smock covered in guacamole.
Not so beautiful.
“It’s good to see you again.” He fixed his tie out of nervous habit. “Um … do you want to change?”
“What? Don’t like my Guac Olé uniform?” she asked but reached behind her and pulled it off. “Sorry, we had a situation in the factory. I didn’t have time to run home.”
Or put a brush through her wild, wavy hair, but for some reason, Grayson imagined running his fingers through her messy locks. He shoved those hands in his pockets and fisted them. “I’ll go order you a drink. Would you like a glass of wine?”
“I’ll take a Corona with lime.”
“Sure thing.” He sauntered up to the bar, glad he had a few minutes to get a handle on his heart’s rapid beating. Was he having a heart attack? He was not going toes-up in a place where there were peanuts on the floor. “Hey, Scott. Can I get a Corona?”
“You got it, bud. Here’s your gin and tonic, too.” Scott glanced over at Becca, his eyes crinkled in amusement. “So, the rumor
Grayson picked up his glass and swallowed. “Just a business meeting,” he said through gritted teeth. What was he going to have to do to prove to this town that he wasn’t interested in Becca?
“Well, don’t break her heart. Becca’s one of my favorite customers.”
“Really? Are you two dating?” Grayson asked, not sure why that question flew out like it did.
“Nah, she shoots me down every single time.” He grabbed a Corona bottle, sliding a lime wedge halfway in, and handed it to Grayson. “She spends a lot of time with her mother.”
Grayson raised a curious eyebrow at that news.
Scott shrugged. “Not sure what the story is,” he said before heading over to the woman at the end of the bar who’d called him over.
Grayson grabbed the beer bottle with one hand and his mixed drink in the other and returned to the table. Becca had tossed her dirty smock around her chair, showing off her pretty yellow sundress.
“One Corona for you.” Grayson set the beer down in front of Becca and took his seat.
“Here you go.” Meg set a huge plate of cheesy nachos and a large side bowl of guacamole between them. “You two, enjoy.” She winked at Grayson.
Becca picked up her beer, pushed down the lime, and took a sip.
“I’m sorry.” Grayson pointed to the guacamole. “You probably don’t want this after working all day in it …”
“It’s fine.” She took a chip and stirred it into the mixture. “Hmm ... not as good as ours.”
“Of course not.” He tried the dip and easily agreed, taking in her bright smile, which caused him to forget for a few seconds what he was here to do. “How long have you been with the company?” he asked, already knowing the answer. Eleanor had pulled her record from human resources. Yah, his father had willed the shares to a college dropout.
“Yeah, time flies,” she said and looked down at her dress.
He’d been on a few first dates to know that when the conversation became awkward, to keep asking questions—not that this was a date. “What do you like about it?”
“About what?” She looked up.
“Working for Guac Olé.”
She took another chip and swirled it in the chunky green guacamole before answering. “See this?”
She shook her head. “It’s more than a dip. It’s an experience. The majority of our customers are probably doing something enjoyable while eating our dip, savoring the simple moments.” She took a bite and closed her eyes for the briefest of seconds. “That’s why I love it. It makes people happy.”
“Happy,” he repeated. He had an MBA. Branding and customer experience had been drilled into him, but there was something smart in the way Becca broke it down to savoring simple moments. “And are you happy right now?” he asked.
She smirked and sipped her beer. “It’s not our dip.”
Grayson leaned back, taking in Becca’s pretty caramel eyes. Surely, she would understand that he was the person to own the company to keep giving consumers that happy experience. This conversation was going to be easier than he realized, and after she accepted his generous offer, he could go back to the office and call his lawyer, Rodney, to draw up the paperwork. “So, speaking of savoring the moment,” he started.
She blinked but didn’t say a word.
“I’d like to make you an offer I think you’re going to like.”
Setting her beer down, she pulled her wavy brown hair to the side and leaned forward. “Go on.”
He smiled widely. Women couldn’t resist his dimples. At least, that’s what all his past flings had said. Sure, he wasn’t trying to bed Becca, but one could make the argument he was attempting to screw her in a different way. He shook off the fleeting moment of guilt passing through him and picked up the notecard.
“Another one,” she said sarcastically. “What is up with all the notes?”
“Just my way of doing business.” He handed her the card.
“Did you learn that at Wharton?”
It was his turn to blink. She knew where he’d gotten his MBA. Impressive. Although, anyone could read his executive bio on the company website. “My dad was into notes.” He sighed and shook his head. “Even left me a final one in his will.”