Read His Taste of Temptation: In the Line of Duty, Book 3 Online

Authors: Cathryn Fox

Tags: #Military;alpha;hero;protector;pasty chef;mistaken identity;hot sex

His Taste of Temptation: In the Line of Duty, Book 3

One affair, thirty days.

In the Line of Duty, Book 3

Since his last relationship blew up in his face, bomb expert Brad Crosby has lost his appetite for “permanent”. But his kid brother’s best friend? Now there’s a curvy morsel he could wrap his lips around.

For years Brad has been the star of Madison Graham’s fantasies. If only she were the kind of put-together girl he prefers, not a pastry chef whose makeup consists of a dusting of powdered sugar on her nose. A belief that’s confirmed when her apartment floods and he offers to let her sleep in his bed—alone.

Wrapped in Brad’s sheets, she dreams of his touches, his kisses, the feel of his body on hers. Except her dreams feel like reality—and come morning, she realizes it wasn’t a dream at all.

Soon the two are burning up the nights. But as Madison’s sweet love grows on him, Brad can’t help but think of extending their time together.

Too bad Madison keeps reminding him their affair has an expiration date.

Warning: May contain heat, explosive sex, and Fourth of July fireworks that pale in comparison to the sparks between a sworn bachelor and a tempting pastry chef.

His Taste of Temptation

Cathryn Fox


To Mark.

Chapter One

Just when she thought her morning couldn’t get any worse.

Madison Graham let out a sputtering yelp. Unfortunately, with a stuffed-up nose and well on her way to a major case of laryngitis, it came out sounding more like a Pekinese dog’s yappy bark rather than the desperate cry of a woman in need of help.

“What the hell,” a sleepy voice grumbled from behind her. “Ah, shit. Not again.”

With her hand inside the hole in the wall that had yet to be fixed since their last plumbing disaster, Madison cupped her palm over the end of the broken pipe, struggling to stem the water flow before it did any more damage to her bathroom, or worse, leak through to her bakery on the ground floor below. Shooting a frantic glance over her shoulder, she saw Jonah Crosby, her childhood best friend and current roommate, and gave an aggravated shake of her head.

“I really need to find a new place to live.” Twisting around, Madison quickly switched hands on the pipe, gasping when another spurt of water shot into her face.

With his hands braced against the door facing, Jonah made a leisurely survey of the scene. “Or you could try taking a shower the way the rest of us do—inside the stall.” Dressed in a pair of low hanging pajama pants that exposed a long, lean torso and those well-defined, V-shaped lats that attracted women in droves, Jonah gave her a crooked grin. His gaze skimmed over Madison’s water-spattered glasses, then drifted downward, lingering on her thin nightshirt. Madison followed the direction of his glance and noticed that her nightshirt had been transformed into a prize-winning wet T-shirt after being hosed down by the broken water pipe.

“Seriously, Jonah, I need to get a better place.”

Jonah cleared his throat. “Ah, you should probably get changed first,” he teased.

“And you’ve got ten seconds to move,” she warned, her teeth chattering as she repositioned her grip, ready to aim the spray Jonah’s way. “Otherwise, you’re next.”

“Right. I’m on it.” He disappeared from the doorway and hurried down the steep steps. A loud clang and few curses later, the gushing water trickled to a drip before coming to a full stop. Madison stepped back, wiped the moisture from her glasses, and attempted to squeeze the droplets from her long, soggy hair.

The old floorboards creaked under Jonah’s weight as he jogged back to the bathroom. He grabbed a big, fluffy towel from the hook on the door and tossed it her way. Keeping his bare feet out of the ever-expanding puddle, he stood in the hall and braced his hands on the overhead door frame.

He assessed the damage and pulled a disgruntled face, one that made him look young and more boyish than his twenty-five years and had her thoughts careening back to their playground days.

One eyebrow arched when he asked, “You want me to call or do you want to?”

Madison pressed the towel to her chest and blotted her cold cheeks with a corner, groaning as she fought off a sneeze. She was battling the summer cold of the century—during Austin’s worst heat wave, nonetheless—and really wasn’t in the mood to get into another shouting match with her landlord. Besides, she already knew how the scenario would play out. Over the phone he’d promise to come by right away, going so far as to ensure her he was practically on her front stoop. Past experiences, however, had taught her that he’d show up on her doorstep at his leisure, leaving her high and dry, or in this case, wet and sodden, for days on end.

“You’d better do it this time.” She grabbed a couple of towels from the sliver of a linen closet and tossed them onto the flooded tile floor before adding, “Not that I think it will do any good.”

Jonah tapped his fingers on the paint-chipped doorframe and nodded in agreement. “Maybe I should just call Brad. He’ll know what to do.”

At the mention of Jonah’s older brother, a shiver moved through Madison, one that had little to do with the water chilling her feverish skin and everything to do with the hot hunk of military man who had been invading her dreams since her teen years.

“What would I know how to do?”

Jonah spun around. “Hey, bro. Just in time.”

“What would I know?” Brad began again, but his words fell off. Madison glanced up, expecting to see him surveying the bathroom, only to find him looking directly at her breasts and the ample curves she spent years hiding. Her nipples tightened in response, unbridled desire moving into her quivering stomach as their gazes collided.

“We…uh…we had another flood,” she managed to croak out, hoping she didn’t sound as breathless as she felt.

“I can see that,” he responded, his voice sounding tighter than normal.

Her blood pulsed hot when his smoldering gaze tracked a path down her body—a slow, lazy caress that instantly pushed back the cold inside her. Heat bombarded her as she became fully aware of her near-naked state—fully aware of what else Brad could

She snatched another towel from the closet and let it drop down in front of her as his gaze tracked back up her body and met hers. For a moment, she could almost swear there had been a flicker of interest backlighting his baby blues, but he gave a quick shake of his head and tore his gaze from hers. When he frowned and took in the sad state of her century-old bathroom, she knew she had to be mistaken. Guys like Brad didn’t lust after girls like her. No, he was into vivacious, self-assured women. Brazen women who had it all and weren’t afraid to use it to get what they wanted.

What he wasn’t into were girls who spent the better part of their lives being called Fatty Maddy, along with a few other unkind names like S’mores Cracker.

Madison wrapped the towel around her chest and tucked it in, then reached for another to blot the water from her hair. It wasn’t that she was fat, per se. She had been an early bloomer and had body image issues. She had worn oversized, bulky layers of clothing to cover her D-cup breasts and curvy hips, but rather than camouflaging her full figure, she had ended up looking like a big, round marshmallow. Sort of like a female version of the Michelin Man. That, of course, coupled with the last name Graham, was how the mean girls—and boys—from high school came up with the S’mores dig. God, teenagers really were the cruelest beings on earth—and, as far as she was concerned, not all that creative, either.

Size twelve boots splashed in the water as Brad stepped into the tight confines of the bathroom. Her pulse jumped in her throat as he leaned past her to look at the broken pipe. She tried to breathe in his familiar scent of fresh soap and clean skin, but her stuffed-up nose took that moment to run, gushing with the same enthusiasm as her broken pipe. Damn. She quickly reached for her box of tissue, only to find that it had become a casualty of faulty plumbing as well. In a very unattractive, unladylike move she sniffed hard, and, because the fate-Gods liked to kick her when she was down, Brad took that moment straighten to his full height and look directly at her.

Okay, her day had officially gone from bad to worse.

“Grab my toolbox from the truck,” he said to Jonah, and that’s when she realized he sounded as hoarse as she did, and that he was likely battling a cold too.

He folded his arms over his chest, the soft fabric of his T-shirt stretching across his broad shoulders. He took his time to inspect the damage, pulling the same disgruntled face that Jonah had earlier. Only on Brad, the expression was anything but boyish. Oh no, not at all. Here stood a
, ready to take charge, to do whatever was necessary to get the job done, and take all the time he needed to do it. A man who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty…or wet. It made him look hot and sexy and—good God, she needed to pull herself together!

Clearing her throat, Madison turned her thoughts to the two men in her life. Even though there was only two years between them, at twenty-seven, Brad was all man. One hundred percent grade-A male. The kind she wanted to serve up on a shiny platter and dive into with vigor. Hunger moved through her and she worked to find her voice as she finger combed her hair in some feeble attempt to make herself look presentable.

He shot a quick glance her way and a strange look came over his face, one she couldn’t quite identify. “You…uh…you might want to get out of those wet clothes before you catch your death of cold.” His turn of phrase reminded her of his late folks, his dad in particular.

“I’ve already got a cold,” she mumbled, stepping onto one of the soaked towels. She pulled open the vanity drawer, grabbed her trusty lip balm, and applied it to her chapped lips. As the scent of cherry filled the air, she caught Brad wetting his own mouth, like he too was in need of relief.

“Want some?” She held the tube out to him. “It’s cherry flavor, but it works.”

His gaze dropped to her mouth, and then quickly darted away. “No,” he bit out, his harsh tone surprising her.

She recapped the tube and tossed it back into her vanity. “What, you don’t like cherry?”

The muscles along his jaw rippled. “I never said that.”

Jonah came back with Brad’s toolbox and she let the matter drop. Jonah stepped up beside his brother, and Madison smacked her lips to spread the balm. She couldn’t help but compare the two men as they stood side by side. Where Brad was taller, with harder muscles and sharper features, Jonah was lean with a pretty-boy face. With his angelic attributes, Jonah would look at home on any Calvin Klein poster, although Madison couldn’t help but wonder what his older brother would look like in those sexy designer underwear.

Along with his boyish good looks, Jonah was also easygoing, the life of the party and game for just about anything. Brad, on the other hand, was far more responsible. When his dad had died of lung disease after a long hard battle, and his mother shortly after, ovarian cancer taking her out quickly, Brad had stepped into a parental role, despite the fact that he was only a teen himself. He always looked out for his reckless kid brother, and was a real hands-on kind of guy, in the field as an explosive expert and around the house as a handyman.

Speaking of hands on…

Her gaze moved to his hands as he searched through his toolbox. He picked up a wrench, looked it over, then carefully put it back and chose another. As she thought about how meticulous he was in everything he did, her brain took a brief, luxurious moment to think about what those rough palms of his would feel like on her flesh. She imagined he was a considerate lover, and that his touches would be slow, thorough and needy, his kisses hot and demanding as he trailed a path downward, his tongue moving closer and closer to the warm juncture between her legs, to the greedy little spot that needed him the most.


The sound of Brad’s voice brought her thoughts crashing back to reality. She took in his watchful eyes and wondered what he’d just said to her. “Ummm,” she murmured, blinking rapidly. “What was that again?”

Before Brad could answer, Jonah stepped up to her. “Are you okay?” His brows pulled into a thoughtful frown as he reached out and pressed the backs of his fingers to her forehead. “Jesus, you’re burning up.”

Oh God, he had no idea.

“I’m fine,” she assured him and squared her shoulders. “It’s just really hot in here.”

She seriously needed to get it together before she threw herself at Brad and begged him to take her—right there on the wet bathroom floor. Not that Brad thought of her in a sexual way, or that she’d actually have the nerve to bare herself to him. No, that was never going to happen. Even if by some miracle Madison had the opportunity to get between the sheets with him, it was a pretty sure bet she’d run the other way, because she had a feeling Brad was the kind of guy who’d want to make love with the lights on, and take his good old time exploring his woman’s body. Her skin tightened, and a strange, strangled noise caught in her throat as she imagined his attention focused on her body—his hands and eyes moving over her, touching her, seeing her. All of her.

Okay, okay, so there was no denying that she still had body image issues, and was just as insecure today as she was all those years ago. She cupped the towel against her chest tighter and darted a quick glance Brad’s way.

His nostrils flared as he massaged his temples with his thumb and forefinger. “Go get changed. Now.”

“Oh, right.”

Adjusting the towel so it dipped in the back, making sure her backside was covered, Madison stepped past Brad and splashed her way down the hall. She could hear him digging around in his toolbox as she made a beeline to her bedroom. Once inside she shut the door and sagged against it, her libidinous body still feeling the effects of Brad’s close proximity and rugged good looks. A breeze drifted in from her open window, the morning air cooling her damp body and helping to focus her thoughts.

With the gust of air giving her a burst of energy after a sleepless night, she peeled off her wet T-shirt and glanced at her clock, wondering what Brad was doing at her place so early in the morning. She tugged on her work clothes and grabbed a clean apron from the laundry basket, then stopped dead in her tracks. Without water, she wouldn’t be able to open her bakery, and if she couldn’t open her doors, she’d never make enough money to find a decent place to live. Damn, damn, damn.

With so much to do today she could only hope that Brad could get the plumbing fixed right away. She took a breath to collect her thoughts, then made a mental list of everything she had to do. As soon as her assistant, and other childhood best friend, Sophie Edwards, arrived Sophie could go to work on serving the breakfast crowd—providing they had water—while Madison darted to the country club to showcase cake samples to a bridal party. Once she got that out of the way she could get a start on making the truckload of cupcakes she’d promised to donate to the city’s upcoming Fourth of July festival. The school band was counting on her donations to help raise funds for their fall trip and she didn’t want to let them down.

The sound of a car pulling into the back parking lot behind the shop signaled Sophie’s arrival for her shift, but if Madison couldn’t open for the day, she’d have to turn her around and send her right back home. Not that she thought Sophie would mind. Working at the café and taking summer classes at night was no easy feat, and with her exams coming up, she could likely use the extra hours to study.

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