Event planner Zoe Burkhart's biggest event—the upcoming celebrity wedding of the year—is going to kill her. Nothing is ready—including the chapel. So she heads to the local bar and ends up venting her frustrations to a handsome stranger. The more they talk, the sexier he becomes, and it isn't long before her Screaming Orgasm cocktail turns into the real thing. But in the morning, she learns that it's his construction company that's put her job on the line.
Playboy turned construction boss, Tate Carrington, is going crazy trying to please the diva bride-to-be. But he's sure attracted to wedding planner. One night with her isn't nearly enough. When she offers him a sexy deal—one he knows will land her back in his bed—he believes it's a win-win situation.
That is, until he starts wanting more than just her body. Now he wants her heart, and everyone knows that whatever Tate Carrington wants, he gets...
Each book in the Tropical Temptation series is a STANDALONE story that can be enjoyed out of order.
* Bonding Games
* Secret Games
* Bachelor Games
* Dirty Games
About the Author
NYT and USA Today bestselling author Suzanne Rock resides in central Massachusetts with her college sweetheart and two daughters. She published her first book in June 2009 and has since written over fifty erotic stories with St. Martin’s Press, Simon and Schuster, Electric Ink Press, and others. For a listing of her books and workshops, please visit her website (http://www.SuzanneRock.com).
Suzanne is represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency (http://www.deidreknight.com) and writes mainstream romances under the pen name Ava Conway (http://www.AvaConway.com).
A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne Rock has been married to her college sweetheart for more than two decades. In addition to being a self-published author whose boxed sets have hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Suzanne is a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor, and a sometimes masseuse. Her steamy books include At His Service, For His Pleasure, and others.
Read an Excerpt
What a horrible a day. Zoe Burkhart swallowed both her cocktail and her despair as several people wearing skimpy swimsuits gyrated around her. When she had first taken on this job as event planner at the tropical resort, she had seen it as a way to help her mother pay her medical bills while doing something she had always loved — planning parties. Organizing fairy-tale weddings at a popular vacation destination seemed like the perfect job for someone who needed to let loose and forget the pressures back home. Now everything seemed like a chore, and her newest client, the famous country singer Sadie Harris, was sucking all of the fun out of her life.
Zoe gulped the last of her cocktail and waved to the bartender. "Give me another 'screaming orgasm' Jess." Several people gave her curious looks, but Zoe was beyond being embarrassed. Since her latest job had given her no time for a personal life, this was as close as she was going to get to being sexually satisfied.
Jess nodded, indicating that she had heard Zoe's outburst, and moved to the other end of the bar to fix the drink. As she walked away, Zoe's phone vibrated with another incoming text from Sadie. She groaned and shut it off. As far as she was concerned, she was off the clock. She'd deal with whatever crazy demand Sadie had tomorrow.
"Is this seat taken?"
Zoe glanced up at the stranger looming over her and couldn't help but smile. Well now, this was interesting. Perhaps today wasn't a total disaster after all.
"Be my guest." She waved her hand at the barstool next to her.
"Looks like you had a rough day," he said in a southern drawl as he sat down in the seat next to her. Tall and broad shouldered, the man looked to be in his late twenties — about her age — and was a wall of tanned muscle.
"Rough day? Try rough month." Zoe chuckled and took the cocktail Jess gave her. "My new job isn't turning out to be as fun as I thought it would be."
"Aw, things can't be that bad. Besides, this is a vacation place. You're not supposed to think about work here."
"You're right. Except for the fact that my client has had me traveling abroad for several weeks in search of the perfect flower." She took a long sip of her drink and considered his profile as he ordered a beer. Both rugged and handsome, the sexy stranger had a thick crop of coffee-colored hair, fashioned in a rough-and-tumble style that complemented the hint of five o'clock shadow along his angular jaw. "Have you been at the resort long?"
"Not nearly long enough. I had no idea there was so much to do and see on the island. Take the sunsets for example." The sexy stranger nodded to the pink and orange hues on the horizon. "I had never seen sunsets as beautiful as the ones on the island." He dragged his gaze away from the view and winked at her. "But the sunsets aren't the only beautiful things around here."
Zoe averted her gaze as heat rose to her cheeks. He had a wicked gleam in his sea-green eyes that seemed to both dissolve her stress and pique her curiosity. Zoe suspected that a girl could have a lot of fun with a guy like this — and she was more than ready to have a little fun tonight.
Suddenly her screaming orgasm cocktail didn't seem like enough. She wanted the real thing, and this man was just the person to give it to her.
"I guess I just need to relax a little," she said.
"Absolutely." He hesitated, then added, "How long are you on the island?"
"For a while." While she didn't want to lie, she didn't want to tell him the truth, either. Guests seemed to change when she told them she worked at the resort. They acted more polite and professional. They also seemed more interested in her job than in letting loose and having fun. Zoe didn't want to talk about work tonight. In fact, she didn't want to do much talking at all.
"How about you?" she asked. "How long are you here?"
"Long enough to enjoy the view." He winked at her, and Zoe smirked as she realized that he wasn't talking about the sunset. He also didn't directly answer her question. Good. Zoe wanted to shed her skin and be someone else for a while. Everyone in this place knew her name and knew that she worked here. For once, she wanted to pretend she was the one on vacation. This guy was providing her the perfect opportunity.
She watched him take a sip of his beer in awe. That accent could bring a girl to her knees. She glanced at his jeans and torso-hugging T-shirt. It wasn't the typical tourist attire, but it suited him.
"Are you with anyone?" she asked.
"Not at the moment." He winked again. "But the night is young."
She smirked and averted her gaze. "It is." He looked like the type of guy who would do something spontaneous, and that appealed to her. In the event planning business, she had to be so polished. All of her appointments had to be scheduled weeks, if not months, in advance. Her life had become just like it was back home, back when she had to work full time, care for her mother, and take a college class or two at night. She'd had no time for fun and spontaneity then, and thanks to all of the pressure she was getting to please Sadie, she had no time for it now. She was on the edge of burnout, and if she didn't let off some steam soon, she was going to crash.
She wondered if this sexy stranger was spontaneous enough to have a one- night stand with her. The atmosphere was right for it, certainly, and Zoe couldn't remember the last time she'd had decent sex. She had no time and energy for a boyfriend right now, and the lipstick vibrator she kept in her purse to take the edge off was a poor substitute for the real thing.
"Did you just arrive at the resort?" he asked.
"Zoe," Jess said before she could answer. "The couple down at the other end of the bar want to come back here next year to renew their vows in a pirate-themed ceremony." She wrinkled her nose. "I told them to talk to you."
The sexy stranger raised his brows. "You work here?"
"Yes." Guess the cat was out of the bag. Zoe sighed. It was so hard to get a night off in this place. No matter how hard she tried, her job always seemed to find her.
She fished in her purse for her business card and handed it to Jess. "Tell them to call my office tomorrow."
"Sure thing." Jess took the card and moved away.
Zoe turned back to the gorgeous man beside her. "Don't look so surprised. The people who work at the resort need time off, too."
"It's not that. It's —"
Zoe waved her hand in dismissal. "I don't suppose it matters. At the rate things are going, I'm going to be out of a job soon, anyway."
Zoe took a long sip of her drink. "The wedding I'm hosting at the end of the month is going to be a disaster. The bride is a total diva, and the new wedding chapel I had commissioned from Carrington Construction is nothing but a hole in the ground." What she didn't tell him was that the bride was not just a diva, but a rich and famous diva. Profits were down at the resort, and they needed the money from this wedding to stay in the black. If Zoe couldn't pull this off, she could kiss her job good-bye. Then she would lose her health insurance and her mother wouldn't be able to stay in that state-of- the-art mental health care facility she desperately needed. As it was, Zoe was struggling to pay off the deductible and co-payments for that place. She was already several payments behind.
The man straightened in his seat and widened his eyes. "You hired Carrington Construction?"
"Indirectly. I made the choice, but my boss, Carrie, handled the details." Zoe's mother had had a setback with her depression, which forced Zoe to fly home for a week to tend to her. Carrie had offered to organize the construction, but Zoe still had to field phone calls and Skype sessions from Sadie, who cared more about finding rare rainbow roses than Zoe's family problems. It had been one hell of a week.
"I had no idea."
"Yeah, it was a huge mistake. The chapel isn't even close to finished, and the owner is unreachable. I wouldn't be surprised if the bastard ran off with our money." She ground her teeth in frustration. "If I ever get my hands on that asshole — "
"I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the work isn't done."
"I don't care about his excuses. I just want my chapel." Zoe held up her finger as he was about to speak and smiled. "That's all I'm going to say about it. I don't want to talk about work tonight." It was unfortunate that this guy knew she worked at the resort, but perhaps there was still time to save her one-night-stand fantasy. She still didn't know him, and in the end, that was all that really mattered.
She let her gaze slip down his chiseled torso. "I want to talk about other things, instead."
He raised his brows. "Is that so?"
"It is," Zoe said as she finished the last of her second drink.
He flashed her a sexy smile and leaned closer. "Okay, I'll let it go — for now. What would you rather talk about?"
I want to talk about how I can get you in bed. She glanced down at his hands and saw that he wasn't wearing a ring. That meant he probably wasn't married. Part of her wanted to do a fist pump, but she refrained. She had to make sure he was unattached before things went any further.
"Are you here with your girlfriend?" she asked.
He snorted. "I don't have a girlfriend, and before you ask, I'm not here with friends, either. I prefer to travel by myself."
Yes. She glanced at his firm, inviting lips. "Do you vacation alone often?"
"Whenever I can." He finished his beer and flashed her a sexy smile. "It allows me to do whatever and go wherever I want." He slid his gaze down to her chest. "With whoever I want."
Desire wove its way through her body, causing her heartbeat to quicken. "You don't ever get lonely?"
He flicked his gaze back up to her face. "Sometimes." Heat flashed through his sexy green eyes, causing her skin to tingle. "But I'm not lonely now." He shifted closer, and Zoe realized it would be far too easy to lean forward and kiss him.
"Neither am I." She imagined how he would taste, how his body would feel up against her skin. The man looked to be strong, and she wanted nothing more than to have all of that muscle moving between her legs.
"Another round?" Jess's voice hit her like a bucket of ice water. As the sexy stranger leaned back, Zoe frowned and turned to her coworker.
"I'm done here, thanks."
The gorgeous man beside her cleared his throat. "You're done?"
She gave him what she hoped was an inviting smile. "I'm done drinking, yes." I'm not done with you, however. If the heat in his eyes was any indication, he was as interested in her as she was in him.
"Okay. Let me know if you need anything else," Jess said as she walked away.
"We will," Zoe murmured as she turned her gaze back to his chiseled features. If she played her cards right, this evening was going to be her first real night of fun since coming to the resort. She grabbed his hand. "Do you want to dance?"
"Dance?" He straightened in his chair.
"Yeah, dance." She grabbed her clutch purse and pulled him up into a standing position as her favorite Prince song began to play. Dancing reminded her of high school and all of the fun she'd had in her youth. More than anything, she wanted to go back to that time, back before her father left, back before her mother's illness became too much for her to bear alone.
She pulled her companion out on the dance floor. Dancing would not only let off stress, but it would give her an excuse to touch him. And Zoe wanted nothing more than to rub her body up against all of those muscles and lose herself in his arms.
Tate Carrington couldn't believe his luck. He had come to the resort bar hoping for a little sensual distraction. What he found was a gorgeous blonde practically throwing herself at him. The fact that she was angry at him and his construction company was a problem, but not one he couldn't overcome. Tate loved a good challenge, especially where women were concerned. It was part of the reason why he ended up at this resort in the first place.
They're looking for a construction crew, his best friend Gavin had said. Come on down and relax a little. This place is crawling with beautiful women begging for sex.It's the perfect escape.
The past month had been like a dream. He had spent his days doing what he loved — working with his hands — and his nights with lonely singles looking for a little no-strings-attached fun while on vacation. Both things had kept his mind busy. So busy, in fact, that he barely had time to think about his problems back home.
Time to end this goofing around, his father had said that afternoon during their argument over the phone. Stop this construction nonsense and come home.
Yeah, as if Tate was going to stop living his dream so he could take over the family oil company in Texas and become a stuffy suit like his father. Tate wanted to shed both his legacy and his polite Southern upbringing. He was a roamer and a drifter, wanting to go wherever the wind took him. His father's structured life and rules would suffocate him. Tate wanted no part of the family fortune — not if it came with all the conditions his father had tried to place on him.
Gavin had a similar history, although being the second son put a lot less pressure on him to take over the family shipping business. Gavin understood Tate's need for freedom and exploration, because he had it himself. Neither one of them wanted to be tied down to anything, or anyone.
Once in the middle of the dance floor, Zoe started swaying to the beat. "Well, what are you waiting for?"
He glanced around at the young, lithe bodies gyrating to the loud bass of the song. "I don't dance." Dancing reminded him of the line dancing his father had made him learn as a teen. You need to start embracing the local culture. The more you interact with the townspeople, the less they will associate you with "big oil" and villainize you. Line dancing, rodeos, state fairs ... while it was fine for some people, Tate could never get into it. Everyone at those events knew he was the heir to Carrington Oil and acted accordingly. Tate preferred to ride into the city on his motorcycle, where he could blend in with the crowd and be anonymous.
"Come on, everyone dances." She unpinned the clip from her hair, letting her long waves cascade around her heart-shaped face, and swayed her hips suggestively. "Just move in time to the music."
She looked so hot. While her white blouse and black skirt looked formal, her moves were far from proper. She was so different than the women he knew back home. Zoe was more free, more uninhibited. Her carefree attitude only made her more alluring. Perhaps dancing with her wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen tonight.
Tate suppressed a grimace and took her hand. Well, here goes nothing. It helped that there were no steps to memorize. The way she rolled those hips made it easy for him to follow her. Every move she made was sensual, and soon, Tate found himself imagining how those hips would feel swaying up against him.
"Hold me." She grabbed his hands and placed them around her waist. Then she slid her arms up around his neck and pressed her breasts against his chest.
Tate bit back a groan of approval. Zoe felt so soft, so right up against his body. He slid his fingers down over her ass, loving how it seemed to fill his large palms. He had been sporting a hard-on ever since he sat down next to her, but now, with her so close and moving so sweetly, his cock was starting to become painful. Curling his fingers into her backside, he pulled her hips up against his, hoping to alleviate some of the ache.
It didn't help. Zoe let out a soft feminine gasp, then smiled suggestively as she rubbed herself up against him.
Tate felt his entire body turn harder than granite. He had to have her, no matter what the cost. Leaning forward, he inhaled her sweet, fruity scent and slid his knee in between her legs.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
She closed her eyes and hummed. "I'd feel even better if we could get away from the resort."
He blinked and leaned back slightly. "You want to leave?" When he picked up women, he had always gone back to their room. His trailer down by the water was his sanctuary, and going to his companion's room made it easier to slip away in the morning.
She leaned back and shifted her gaze to his lips. "I want to get away from this place." She tugged on his neck and lifted herself up on her toes. "These people." She brushed her lips against his. "Don't you?"
Excerpted from "Secret Games"
Copyright © 2017 Suzanne Rock.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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