Her Gentle Giant, Part 1 No Regrets

By: Heather Rainier
HER GENTLE GIANT


Part 1: No Regrets



Divine Creek Ranch 2




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS




Thanks to Rebecca, Dana, Lisa and Kayla for believing in me.

Thanks to Christie, Jennifer and Tonya for their contagious enthusiasm.

Thanks to incredible beautiful, graceful pole dancing specialist, Leigh Ann Orsi of Be Spun, for the inspiration she provided with her beautiful moves. I never thought to include something like pole dancing in my story line until I was doing related online research for a bachelor party scene.

Wish I could move like that.

And my sincerest thanks to Diana, Alison, Caroline and all the wonderful staff of Siren Publishing, and cover artist Les Byerley who brought Eli and Rachel to vivid life.




Chapter One


August…

Rachel Lopez slid her laptop into its carrying case and zipped it closed. The work day was finally over, and she looked forward to a bubble bath, leftovers, and a DVD. She hadn’t accomplished very much on her manuscript at lunchtime and hoped to get a little done before bedtime. She cleared her desk and lifted her purse from the drawer she kept it stashed in. Her head throbbed, and she remembered the other reason she needed a warm bubble bath. Her headache had persisted all day, and she was ready to relax.

“Rachel? There’s someone here to see you.”

Rachel looked up into the grinning, obviously curious face of her coworker, Bernice Williams.

“Who is it? Did they give you a name?” What now? Rachel was just about ready to walk out her office door. It was late Thursday afternoon and she wanted to slip out of her high heels.

Bernice smirked and leaned against the doorjamb. “Eli Wolf ring any bells?” She eyed her perfect manicure before crossing her arms in front of her, adding in her Texan drawl, “He asked for you by name.”

Rachel groaned softly and laid her purse and keys on her desk, trying to ignore the thrill that ran through her body at the mention of his name.








This is not good. This is not good. Stop getting your hopes up.

He’ll give up and then you’ll see. It’s not worth the trouble, or the heartache, or the misery—

Her boss, Thorne Grogan, stuck his head in her door, interrupting her mental litany. “Hey, Rachel? You know there’s some big hulking dude out there asking for you?”

“Yes, Mister—Sorry! Thorne. Sorry. I’ll be right there.”

Mr. Grogan rolled his eyes at her and headed down the hall. At her former job with the local newspaper, the dress and conduct code had been strict, and she’d gotten used to it. It was going to take her a while to adjust to the more laid-back environment of Grogan Home Theater, Inc., where she now worked as bookkeeper.

Bernice whispered, “He brought you flowers, Rachel. Is he your boyfriend?”

Lamely and with reluctance, Rachel said, “No. He’s a good friend of mine. Is he waiting in reception?” She wondered why he’d brought her flowers.

Because he still wants me to go out with him after two months, and I keep telling him no. Because I’m a dumbass.

“Yeah, want me to send him back?”

In the last two months since she’d met Eli, Rachel sometimes felt like she had an angel sitting on each shoulder. Good Rachel knew only trouble would come of dating a bouncer in a nightclub, especially a scrumptiously delicious-looking bouncer like Eli. Good Rachel wanted to play it safe and avoid getting hurt. Naughty Rachel wanted Eli anyway and was ready to kick the ass of any woman who dare lay a hand on him or approach him to flirt. Naughty Rachel wanted to get laid. Whether she kept herself at arm’s length or dated him, or worse, fall in love with him, she had a feeling she was going to have regrets.

Naughty Rachel tapped her shoulder.

He’s right outside waiting for me with flowers. He’s been so persistent. How can I say no to—

“Earth to Rachel?” Bernice passed her hand in from of her face.

Rachel grinned sheepishly and said, “Right. Tell him he can come on back.”

Bernice grinned and scooted back down the hall to deliver her message.

,


Rachel gathered her things in her arms and stacked them on the front of the desk. She figured it would be best if she walked him out, and if he asked her out, she would turn him down in private. She knew Bernice might be eavesdropping on her conversation. Rachel liked Bernice, but she was nosey.

Her head throbbed again, and she remembered she’d dropped her bottle of Tylenol in her desk drawer when she’d taken a couple that morning. Instead of walking around the large oak desk to pull open the drawer, she stretched across the thick glass top and hooked the drawer handle with her thumb, opened it, and reached for the Tylenol.

Several things happened at once. As she stretched to reach the drawer handle, she began to lose her balance, and she heard a knock on her open office door. The slick bottoms of her new red high heels slid right out from under her on the carpeting, and she flopped ungracefully forward, knocking her breath from her as she landed on her large purse and her laptop case, which began to slide toward the edge of the desk with her on top of it. Rachel knew she was moments away from sliding off the desk and landing flat on her ass. Her fingers made useless slipping sounds as she vainly tried to get a hold on the slick, empty desk top. Clutching her laptop to keep it from hitting the floor, she sought a foothold with her pumps, and her pointed toes hit the carpet, slid sideways out from under her and she did the splits.

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