The Tycoon, the sixth book in my A Keeper Series, is now available! This book features Becca Taylor, who loves dogs and is trying to make a fresh start, and Caleb Fairchild, the CEO of Fair Face, a billionaire dollar cosmetic and skin care dynasty. When Becca is asked to go into business with her employer, one person stands in her way—the woman's grandson.
Cover and Blurb
Tender-hearted Becca Taylor wants to put the past behind her and start fresh. Thanks to her new job caring for the dogs of a very wealthy family, she can do just that. When the feisty matriarch asks her to join in a business venture, Becca believes her goals are within reach. Now, all she has to do is convince her partner's grandson that their plan is solid. Too bad he hates her on sight.
Caleb Fairchild will do anything to keep his heart and his family safe—which is why the beautiful Becca must go. Her eagerness to help his grandmother is suspicious, and he's determined to get to the bottom of her motives. However, when the truth surfaces about Becca's past, Caleb fears he may have misjudged her.
Despite being stark opposites, Becca and Caleb's attraction grows. Unfortunately, Caleb's lack of trust keeps getting in the way. Can they overcome their obstacles or will the past keep them from having all of their dreams come true?
Caleb changed into shorts and a T-shirt. When he returned to the patio, china, crystal glasses, and a glass-blown vase filled with yellow and pink roses from the garden were on the table. Very feminine. Very much his grandmother. “You’ve gone all out.”
“I enjoy having company.” With a beaming grin, Grams patted the seat next to her. “Sit and eat.”
As Caleb sat, he stared at Becca.
What was she doing here?
He wanted to speak to Grams alone, to discuss Becca and his concerns about the so-called dog consultant and if she was exploiting his grandmother’s generosity.
Sneaky scam artist or sweet dog lover? Becca seemed to be a contradiction, and that confused him.
On their way to the kennel, he’d sensed a connection. Something he hadn’t felt in a couple of years. Not since Cassandra. But he no longer trusted those feelings about a total stranger.
Besides, Becca wasn’t his usual type—Caleb dated high-powered professional women—but he’d flirted and had fun until she’d ruined the moment with her ridiculous grandmother-is-lonely spiel.
Becca was wrong. He couldn’t wait to prove how wrong.
He sliced through his cake with his fork. The silver tines pinged against the porcelain plate.
“You must be hungry,” Grams said.
He nodded before taking a bite.
Becca drank from her glass of ice water.
“Do the dogs usually stay in the kennel all day?” he asked.
A rivulet of condensation rolled down her glass. She placed it on the corner of the yellow floral placemat. “No, they are outside most of the time, but if they were here, they would be out of control over the cake.”
“Dogs eat cake?” he asked.
Becca refilled her water from a glass pitcher with lemons floating on the top.
A guilty expression crossed his grandmother’s face. “I never give them much. Never any chocolate. But when they stare up at me as if they’re starving, it’s too hard not to give them a taste.”
“Those dogs are skilled in getting what they want.” Laughter filled Becca’s eyes. “They’re spoiled rotten.”
“Nothing wrong with being spoiled and pampered,” Grams agreed.
“Not at all.” Becca sounded wistful. “I’d love to be one of your dogs.”
Her words surprised Caleb. She didn’t seem like the primping and pampering type. He sipped his iced tea.
She picked up a bite of cake with her fork. Her lips parted.
Fair Face made a lipstick that plumped lips, making them fuller and, according to the marketing department, more desirable. Becca’s lips were perfect the way they were.
She raised the fork.
Like a moth to a blowtorch, Caleb watched her, mesmerized. He placed his glass on the table.
She brought the cake closer to her mouth until her lips closed around the end of the fork.
Over the past ten seconds, the sweat at the back of his neck had made his T-shirt collar shrink two sizes.
She pulled out the empty fork. A dab of enticing frosting sat on the corner of her mouth.
A very lickable position.
Stop. Caleb wasn’t into licking. Especially not his grandmother’s employee, who claimed to know more about Grams than he did.
The woman was dangerous.
He stared at his plate.
If making him feel worse had been Becca’s goal, she’d succeeded. He was also aggravated. Annoyed. Attracted.
No, not attracted.
By the frosting.
His gaze strayed back to the creamy dab on Becca’s face.
Yes, that was it.
The icing. He placed his fork on the plate. Not the lick…
“You can’t be finished.” Grams sounded distressed that he hadn’t eaten the whole slice.
The last thing Caleb wanted was to eat more cake. He needed to figure out what was going on with Becca and then get out of here. “I’m letting the food settle before I have more.”
He sneaked a peek at her.
The tip of her pink tongue darted out, licking her top lip to remove the bit of frosting before disappearing back into her mouth.
Caleb stuck two fingers inside his collar and tugged—hard. The afternoon heat was making him sweat. He should go to the gym instead of back to the office. A workout would clear his head and help him focus on the right things.
He wiped his mouth with a yellow napkin. Becca should have used hers instead of her tongue.
Was she trying to be provocative and flirty? Becca might see dollar signs when she looked at him as Cassandra had. No, that didn’t match what Becca had said. She didn’t want him to object to her involvement with Gertie. His grandmother had to be the mark, not him.
“The cake is delicious,” he said. “The frosting has the right amount of sweetness.”
Eyes bright, Grams leaned forward over the table. “I’m so happy you like it. I’ve been working hard on the recipe.”
With a sweet grin that reminded him of cotton candy, Becca motioned to her plate. Only half the slice remained. “You’ve perfected it.”
Grams chuckled. “Took me enough attempts.”
“I’ve enjoyed each slice.” Becca patted her trim waistline. “As you can tell.”
“Nonsense,” Grams said. “You have a lovely figure. Not that a few slices of cake ever hurt anybody. Men like curves, isn’t that right, Caleb?”
He choked on the cake in his mouth. Becca’s curves were the last thing he should check out. “Mmmm-hmmm.”
“See,” Grams said lightheartedly.
Warm affection filled Becca’s eyes. “I’m sold.”
Caleb’s gaze darted between the two women. Grams treated Becca more like a friend than an employee. That was typical of his grandmother’s interactions with her staff, including the dowdy Mrs. Harrison, a fifty-something widow who preferred to go by her last name.
Still, Grams and Becca’s familiarity raised more suspicions, given the differences in their social status, personalities, and ages. His grandmother always took in strays and treated them well. Becca played her role flawlessly in that scenario but added a twist by becoming indispensable and irreplaceable.
Something was off here. “Grams is an excellent baker.”
“You should have been here on Monday,” Becca said. “Gertie knocked it out of the park with her Black Forest cake. Seriously to-die-for.”
“Black Forest cake?” he asked.
Grams nodded with a knowing gleam in her eyes. “Your favorite.”
That had been only three days ago. Caleb stared at his plate.
Carrot cake was Courtney’s favorite, and Grams had made his favorite a few days ago. Puzzle pieces fell into place like the colored blocks on a Rubik’s Cube. A seven-layer lead weight settled in the pit of Caleb’s stomach. “How many cakes do you bake a week?”
“It depends on how long we take to eat one,” she answered.
The question ricocheted through him. “We?”
“Becca. The estate staff. My lab assistants. Whoever else is here,” Grams explained. “Sometimes, Becca takes the leftovers to the vet clinic when she covers shifts there.”
Wait a minute. He assumed his grandmother paid Becca well and allowed her to live in the guest cottage rent-free. Why would Becca work at a vet clinic, too? Especially if she was running a con?
“Sounds like a lot of cake.” Caleb tried to reconcile what he was learning about Becca with his grandmother’s cake. “I didn’t realize you enjoyed baking so much.”
Grams raised a shoulder, but there was nothing casual or indifferent in the movement. “Can’t have one of my grandchildren stop by and not have any cake to eat.”
But I also think she wants me here because she’s lonely.
His chest tightened because Becca was right. Grams was lonely.
Regret slithered through him.
As he thought about the number of cakes baked with anticipation and love and a big dose of hope, Caleb struggled to breathe. He figured Grams would be out and about doing whatever retired women did to pass the time—lunches, museums, fundraisers. He’d never expected she would go to so much trouble or imagined she would sit at home and wait for her grandchildren to visit.
His promise to his grandfather and his efforts blew up like a fifty-megaton bomb.
So much for taking care of Grams. Caleb had failed. He hadn’t taken care of her but let her down.
Just like his dad had.
Guilt churned in Caleb’s gut. He opened his mouth to speak, but he wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m sorry” wasn’t enough.