She laughed and waved him off. “Go get Mel, then.”

Mel turned out to be a big hit, adored by everyone in the house, and reveling in all the praise. Meagan and Sam promised to adopt a friend for Mel the next day, which Sam vowed he’d name Meg. Eventually, Sam escorted Meagan to the mother-in-law house, where they walked up the wooden steps of the rectangular deck, and were, at least, semi-alone.

“Well,” he said, resting his palm on the doorframe above her head as she rested her back on the door. “I guess this is where I say goodnight.”

“Yeah,” she said. “I guess so.”

“I take it goodnight kisses are off limits.”

She barely quelled the urge to push to her toes and take that goodnight kiss. “Probably not the most discreet thing to do.”

“You do know this is killing me,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about our ‘almost’ phone sex all day.”

She laughed and bit her bottom lip. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” His eyes darkened and he pushed off the door. “I better go before I decide not to. Or do something someone will see, and which you’ll hate me for later. And I’m not calling you when I get to the other place, or I might change my mind and come right back here.”

He stepped away, as if he couldn’t quite get himself to turn. “Night, Meg.”

“Mea…gan.”

“Okay, sweetheart,” he said, his voice low. “Meagan.” And then he turned and walked authoritatively away, all broad-shouldered and muscle-defined, and totally confident. She sighed and entered the house to find Kiki leaning on the kitchen counter, sipping from a coffee cup.

“Oh, hi,” Meagan said. “What’s up?”

Kiki smirked. “Nothing,” she said. “Nothing at all.”

But her look, her tone, didn’t say nothing. It said something.

Knots formed in Meagan’s stomach. Had she just put Sam back on Kiki’s radar? Meagan said a quick goodnight to Kiki, thankful it was an easy escape. How was she supposed to do a good job if she was always so worried about her assistant. If this show had a season two, Meagan was negotiating Kiki out of the contract. That would be a deal breaker. In the meantime, it was critical that Meagan decide how best to protect Sam without destroying what felt like a really good thing.

* * *

OVERNIGHT, MEAGAN REALIZED that Sam would never back away from the potential threat that Kiki might represent. She had to pull away from him again, and she wasn’t sure he’d forgive her for that. Still, she resolved to do what she hadn’t. Take action. She started her search for a new agent immediately. As much as she valued the importance of control, she hadn’t been embracing it at all. Taking action was the only thing that kept her distance from Sam in place.

It was early evening when she arrived at the house for the night. After changing into jeans and a T-shirt, she headed to the contestant’s house, where everyone was having dinner. Meagan made her way to the kitchen to snag a soda right when Sam came in with a small pet carrier, holding a beautiful white cat.

The instant Sam’s eyes met hers, she felt that familiar punch of awareness in her chest. “Hey, sweetheart. How was your day?”

“Productive,” she said, and a torment, she added silently. Staying away from Sam when she didn’t want to was incredibly hard.

“I’d say mine was too, considering what I have here.” He set the carrier on the island counter.

“She’s gorgeous,” Meagan said sliding a finger inside the bars to stroke the friendly animal who purred loudly. “A perfect friend for Mel.”

“We had great timing with this one,” he said. “She had to be rescued today or—”

“Don’t say it,” Meagan ordered, stroking the animal through the bars. “I’m just glad we can give her a home.”

“Her name is Meg,” he said, a teasing glint in his eyes.

She laughed. “I deserve that, now don’t I?”

“She’s beautiful!” Ginger called from the doorway, “DJ! Come here!”

It wasn’t long before Meg was carried to the other room, and smothered with attention, leaving Meagan alone again with Sam. “It appears Meg is a hit,” Meagan said.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Meg most definitely is a hit.”

The air all but crackled around them. She couldn’t help but stare into the man’s too-blue eyes. Could she be falling in love with him?

She wanted to tell him her concerns about Kiki, but he was stubborn and macho. He’d insist he didn’t need protection.

“Sam—”

“Look at Meg go!” Ginger shouted, and before Meagan could find a way out of it, she and Sam were herded into the living room. They joined the group as everyone talked about how excited but scared they were over the live show the next night, but declared Meg and Mel good luck charms and the “curse” officially gone.


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Stepping Up Romance
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