A Touch of Love (The Grays of Los Angeles) by Sheryl Lister: http://amzn.to/2xM4eQV
Lexia Daniels can’t deny that her café’s most loyal customer is as tempting as any of the delicious treats she bakes. Burned by a bitter divorce, she tries to keep her desire in check around Khalil Gray, but the gorgeous ex-model is intent on seduction. Then a devastating accident reveals the complicated man behind the perfectly sculpted body… A man she can’t seem to resist.
At first, Khalil sees Lexia as a sexy challenge. But after an explosion shatters his world, she becomes the only person he can’t seem to push away. And every sign around him is telling him he needs her close. Khalil is happy to explore their erotic chemistry as long as it means resisting real emotion. But playing by his old rules could cost him the love he never thought he’d find…
Excerpt: A Touch of Love by Sheryl Lister
“What the hell do you mean they were charged twice?” Khalil Gray stopped in his tracks. He met the disapproving glare of a grandmotherly woman and offered up a tight smile. Lowering his voice, he repeated the question.
“I have no idea,” Felicia McBride answered. The twenty-six year-old college student worked as the assistant manager at his fitness center, Maximum Burn. “There’ve been four calls since you left with members saying their accounts were debited twice this month. They’ve already been corrected, but I have no idea why it happened in the first place.”
He ran an agitated hand down his face. “Thanks, Felicia. I’ll check it out when I get back.”
He ended the call, still trying to figure out what was going on. He had owned the gym for five years and never had a problem before. Khalil continued through the lobby toward the elevators and jabbed the button with more force than necessary. He toyed with stopping in Oasis Café for his favorite low-fat apple cinnamon coffee cake, but because of traffic and construction across from the Wilshire District office building, he was already fifteen minutes late for the Wednesday morning staff meeting at his family’s home safety company. The elevator doors opened and he stepped back to allow the stream of people exit before boarding and riding the car up to the sixth floor.
Khalil greeted the receptionist and walked briskly down the hallway to the large conference room. He slid into a vacant seat and turned his attention to what his older brother, Brandon was saying. Brandon had taken over as CEO of the company nine months ago. Their father, Nolan Gray, had started the company upon his discharge from the Army after being disheartened by the difficulty in getting services and accommodations for the disabled. He’d decided to do something about it by designing them himself.
Their father’s best friend, Thaddeus Whitcomb—who had lost the lower part of his leg while serving—joined the company as a minor partner and vice president. The two men had a long-standing agreement that there would always be a Gray at the helm as CEO and a Whitcomb as vice president. Currently, only Brandon and their older sister, Siobhan, worked for the company. He listened as each department gave updates. After the last person finished, Brandon directed his attention to Khalil. “Khalil, you’re still going to be meeting with production about your equipment, right?” Khalil nodded.
“Next week. The second gym is scheduled to open in June and I don’t want any delays.” They had broken ground a year ago on the now three-level center and the building would be completed in four weeks, barring any problems. He wanted all the equipment to be ready for installation.
“So, roughly three months until opening day. Let me know if you run into any difficulties. Is there anything else?” Khalil glanced at the wall clock. It was almost eleven. Any hope he had of getting that coffee cake dissipated. When no one spoke, he pushed the chair from the table and started to stand.
“I have one quick thing.” He dropped back into his seat and groaned inwardly. He loved his sister-in-law, but couldn’t she table her comments until the next meeting? Brandon had met Faith Alexander when he’d come to her rescue after a car accident. Unbeknownst to either of them, Faith was the long lost daughter of Thaddeus Whitcomb, and rightful heir to the VP position. Uncle Thad, as they affectionately called him, had been looking for his daughter for twenty-eight years after his wife divorced him.
Khalil smiled inwardly remembering all the fireworks that followed when Brandon found out the woman he had rescued and begun dating was actually going to be his second-in-command. Brandon hadn’t been too happy since he’d grown up thinking he would head the company alone—a fact that Brandon had reiterated several times. Things had worked out between Brandon and Faith and they had married six weeks ago. Khalil tuned back into Faith discussing the new intern program. It gave him an idea about doing something similar at the gym. A few minutes later, the meeting ended.
“Hey, Khalil. I want to talk to you before you leave.” He shot a glare at Brandon. Another five minutes passed before his brother made it over to where Khalil stood impatiently waiting.
“Why are you frowning at me like that?” Brandon asked.
“Because it’s after eleven and my coffee cake is probably gone by now.” He strode out of the conference room, leaving Brandon to follow. “If you want to talk, we need to do in on the way downstairs.” Brandon chuckled.
“Weren’t you grumbling about that three weeks ago when you were here?” He pushed the down button on the elevator. Khalil only attended the weekly staff meeting when he had something on the agenda.
“Yeah, and you’d better hope it’s not all gone again. Dad’s staff meetings never ran this long. You’re taking this CEO thing way too far.”
“Well, we have two new products in the design phase and have to finalize plans for our interns who’ll be starting soon, so there’s a lot to discuss.”
When the elevator arrived, they joined four other occupants and rode down to the first floor without speaking. As soon as the doors opened, Khalil hurried across the lobby to Oasis Café. The only things left in the display case in the spot where the coffee cake usually sat were the tipped over sign and crumbs. Behind him, Brandon laughed softly. “Guess you’ll have to get here early next time.” Before he could tell his brother where to go, a tall, pretty woman approached.
“Good morning. Table for two?” She reached for menus.
“No, thank you.” Khalil pointed to the glass case. “Do you have any more of the low fat apple cinnamon coffee cake?”
“Sorry. We sold the last piece about an hour ago.” She chuckled. “It’s our most popular item and it goes fast. We still have some other pastries you can choose from.” He frowned. He didn’t want any of those sugar-laden sweets. After spending over a decade in the modeling and fitness business, he was very selective about what went into his body. The only allowances he made were family dinners. His mother could throw down in the kitchen and he looked forward to the monthly get-togethers. “Thanks, but I’ll pass.” She smiled. “Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Yes, I’ll take…” Khalil trailed off when a woman wearing an apron came from the back and placed a plate on the counter. A wide headband held her thick, wavy natural hair back, and she had flawless skin, wide dark brown eyes and lush lips, all set in an exquisite mocha face. “I saw you this morning and knew you’d be in. You’re later than usual,” she said. The deep, throaty sound of her voice caught him off guard and sent a jolt to his midsection. Khalil sent a scathing look over his shoulder at Brandon then smiled, reached for her hand and brought it to his lips.
“This is the best thing that has happened to me lately and I just may have to ask for your hand in marriage lovely lady.”
Her brow lifted and she gave him a sassy smile. “Sorry, but I only accept marriage proposals from men whose name I know.”
His grin widened. “Is that right?” Was she flirting with him? She tried to pull her hand back, but he didn’t let go. “Then let me introduce myself. Khalil Gray. And you are?” Staring at him, she said softly, “Lexia. Lexia Daniels.”
“So, Lexia Daniels, exactly how long do we need to know each other before you say yes to my proposal?” Lexia shook her head and gently, but firmly withdrew her hand. “I need to get back to work.” She placed a cup on the counter, along with a Decaf Vanilla Chai tea bag—his favorite.
“Enjoy your coffee cake and tea.” She turned and headed back the way she’d come.
“This should improve your mood some,” Brandon said.
“Mmm hmm.” Khalil had been here several times since the café reopened under new management almost two years ago and couldn’t recall ever seeing her. His gaze followed the sweet curve of her hips until she disappeared. The other woman smiled knowingly and rang up his purchases.
( Continued… )
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About the Author
SHERYL LISTER has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. When she’s not reading, writing or playing chauffeur, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers and bite-sized desserts. She holds a B.S. in Occupational Therapy and post-professional M.S. in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University. She resides in California and is a wife, mother of three and works as a pediatric occupational therapist.