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DESIGNED FOR YOU
For You Series, Book 1
BY JO GRAFFORD
Despite a string of personal tragedies and setbacks, Jillian Lang’s interior design company is an enormous success. If she doesn’t count the cyber stalker who hounds her daily…
Knowing she can’t keep up with her fast-growing list of bids and contracts without help, she reluctantly breaks her number one personal rule of “don’t depend on anyone” and hires an office manager. Not only does Holland Sparks do an incredible job of running Lang Interiors, he provides a much-needed buffer between her and the cyber stalker, while steadily chipping away at a thousand barriers she’s put up to protect her heart.
When the stalker suddenly moves his game from the cyber world to the real world, Jillian discovers no one in her immediate circle is exactly who or what he claims to be. Not her landlord. Not even her family.
Will Holland be the one man she can turn to, or will his own secrets be reason enough to scrap her designs on the man of her dreams?
DESIGNED FOR YOU
For You Series, Book 1
BY JO GRAFFORD
I know who you are.
Jillian Lang’s insides froze as she read the email with its dreaded XX signature. She was tempted to run to the front door of Lang Interiors to make sure she’d locked it after closing time.
“Of course you know who I am!” She threw her arms up at the computer screen. “Any moron with Internet access can find my company website.” And exact street address. Her hands shook as she returned them to the keyboard.
More than likely, it was just some junior high prankster. Still, it unnerved her to receive the cryptic email message day after day. Who was sending it and why?
She shook her head at the screen. Should she report her stalker to the police? Would they even care? They had bigger fish to fry investigating the daily burglaries and muggings that plagued the city. Probably earn her little more than a good chuckle from them if she complained about someone who simply claimed to know her identity. The emails were creepy and obnoxious but hardly criminal.
She punched a few keys and carefully filed the email, hating how powerless she was to do anything about it.
Jillian preferred being in control. Climbing her own mountains. Putting out her own fires. Unfortunately, the emails from XX weren’t the only thing testing her patience today. She was in the process of hiring her first employee.
Another thread of her precious control tore loose with a nearly audible snap. Depending on others inevitably led to problems, at least in her experience; but she needed the help too badly these days to hold off the inevitable any longer.
She kicked her favorite strappy silver heels beneath her desk and shrugged out of her pumpkin-hued blazer. Nearly seven o’clock already. An hour past closing time, despite all the work that had piled up while she’d interviewed candidates. She unfastened her all-business bun and shook out her honey-blonde waves. A mother of a cramp knifed its way across her shoulder blades. She stood and placed her hands on her hips, threw her shoulders back, and stretched, eyes closed.
“Hello?” the smooth baritone resonated through her system, jolting her back to her uptown storefront office.
Her eyes flew open to regard the owner of the voice. A haze of fear clouded her vision. She blinked to clear it. Guess I didn’t lock the front door after all. “Hello. Ah…we’re closed for the day, sir.” She reached for the button under her desk, the one she’d stretched her budget to install a few weeks ago. A button that connected her one-woman office to the security firm her two brothers claimed was the best in St. Louis.
“No problem.” The man held up both hands, a gesture of full surrender that made her pause before pushing the button. “If you’re willing to give me an appointment, I’ll be happy to come back at a better time.”
He was tall. Certainly was no stranger to the gym, not with the way his shoulders and chest stretched the crisp creases of his shirt or the way his stone-colored slacks hung on his hips. But was he dangerous?
She nodded, forcing herself to swallow the golf ball-sized lump of misgiving clogging her throat. “Just give me a moment, and I’ll pull up my calendar.” She gave herself a mental high-five for keeping her voice from trembling and studied him from beneath her lashes while she fumbled with her keyboard.
Not a client or subcontractor, yet he seemed to fit the general ambiance of her design studio. A perfect blend of mod and complexity, much like the infinity art print displayed to his left—a single splash of color against the white walls and minimalistic white couch that comprised her tiny waiting area.
Dark hair waved its way down to the collar of his navy dress shirt in a style she instantly dubbed as touchable. It was slightly tousled as if he deliberately avoided appearing too slicked up but not tousled enough to dent his air of sophistication. His fair complexion hinted at a life that didn’t include a great deal of time outdoors, or he wore plenty of sunscreen when he did.
She swallowed again, forcing her thoughts back to her crammed schedule. “How does tomorrow sound? Noon sharp.”
“Perfect.” The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes indicated he was accustomed to smiling. It should have put her at ease. Instead, his smile along with his faint Northern accent stirred a fresh swarm of butterflies in her midsection. Scandinavian, perhaps?
“Your name, sir?”
She might be a little rusty on the dating scene, but interest lighted the man’s gray eyes. His gaze travelled across her face, dipped briefly lower, and returned to look her in the eye.
She quickly straightened her shoulders, feeling exposed in her scooped white tank top with its lacy neckline and spaghetti straps. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so quick to discard her blazer.
“What sort of appointment can we set up for you, Mr. Sparks? Renovation, addition, landscaping?” She pasted on what she hoped was her best professional smile, warm enough to appear welcoming without coming across as desperate. Not the kind of smile that begged a customer to buy something so she could afford her next meal. She hoped that category of smiles was far behind her. For good.
His gaze leisurely roved the room and returned to hers, glinting with unspoken questions.
She hoped speaking in plurals would give him the impression she possessed another employee or two on the payroll. But he if was up to no good, there was always the emergency call button within reach.
“Actually, I was sitting in the coffee shop across the street, scanning the local news when I ran across your advertisement.”
My help-wanted ad? Jillian straightened her spine and clasped her hands in front of her. Though preposterous, his statement was firmly planted in safe territory.
He shrugged an apology. “Figured it would take longer to dial your number than to walk over here.”
“You’re, ah…applying to be my office manager?” Her voice rose to a higher pitch than she intended. She cleared her throat. He hadn’t simply lost his way to the modeling agency down the street?
“Yes.” He offered a smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes. It made her think of frivolous things like bathing in sunshine and dancing in the rain—sensations her dazed mind was beginning to vaguely identify as his unique brand of magnetism. Administrative duties aside, holy Batman! With a hunk of burning man-candy like him running her office, women would form a line to sign up for remodeling projects whether they needed them or not.
I write romance across the genres. The stakes are always high, and the heroes are willing to risk it all for the brilliant, sassy women they love.
Originally from St. Louis, I’ve served as a corporate trainer, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. Along the way, I discovered the only thing I enjoy as much as teaching is writing. Especially writing romance! A typical day finds me on my laptop, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat sprawled across my lap (hoping for his first book dedication or at least an honorable mention).
I love alpha males, strong-minded woman, humorous sidekicks, diversity, Vikings, dashing lords, vampires, zombies, cyborgs…you get the idea.
To receive announcements about new releases, book signings, sneak peeks at free chapters and deleted scenes, giveaways, and other festivities, sign up for my newsletter at www.JoGrafford.com.
Links to Jo’s website, blog, books, etc.
AMAZON KINDLE US:
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AMAZON PAPERBACK: coming soon!
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:
WEBSITE / BLOG: www.JoGrafford.com
OTHERS – WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford
Thank you, Jo, for sharing your stories with us.
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!