Falling Into You

By: Barbara Freethy

(Bachelors & Bridesmaids #5)

Chapter One

He was the kind of man her father would have shot on sight—faded jeans that hung low on his hips, a dark t-shirt under a black leather jacket, wavy brown hair that drifted past the collar of his jacket, a day's growth of beard on his face and a wicked smile in his dark brown eyes.

Maggie Gordon smiled to herself as she watched the man walk the length of the luxurious lobby. He knew he was being watched. He'd probably known it since he'd roared up in front of Napa Valley's prestigious Stratton Hotel on his motorcycle and casually deposited it with the valet. Judging by the swagger of his walk, he didn't give a damn what anyone thought.

He was a lucky guy not to have to follow the rules or worry about the opinion of others. Maggie had never had that kind of freedom, not with an Army general for a fa­ther, and certainly not with a rigid boss like Harry Stone.

The thought of her manager made her stand up straighter, and the grin that was lurking at the corners of her mouth vanished. She could not afford to lose her job, not after the last six years of saving every dollar from every paycheck in order to be able to buy a house of her own one day. Now, she was so close to having her dream come true, she could taste it.

The man's booted heels clicked against the marble floor as he came to a halt in front of the desk. He set his black duffel bag down on the floor, casting one sweep­ing look around the lobby, obviously amused by the attention he was drawing from a group of older women by the elevator. While Maggie quite approved of his rugged, sexy appearance, the women in town for a convention regarded him with disdain, as if he'd just dragged some dirt into the hotel.

The man di­rected his gaze at her, a smile lurking in his eyes.

"May I help you?" Maggie asked, pleased by the cool tone of her voice. It was a nice contrast to the unexpected heat surging through her body. It had been awhile since she'd felt such a jolt of attraction.

The man gave her a long look, and then said, "Kathy?"

She looked at him in surprise. "What? I'm not—"

"I've missed you, baby. Come here and give me a kiss."

Before she could say she wasn't Kathy, he reached across the counter and grabbed her by the shoulder. She had no time to do anything but open her mouth, which was a definite mistake. His kiss was hot and hungry, his tongue sliding inside her mouth, bringing a wave of heat along with it.

"Miss Gordon!" Harry Stone's shocked voice brought her to her senses.

She immediately pulled away, blinking somewhat dazedly at the handsome stranger who'd just kissed the breath out of her.

"What is going on here?" her manager demanded, his homely, round face turning red with anger as he moved down the counter.

Maggie's hand flew to her mouth, her lips still tin­gling from the impact of his kiss. "I—I—" She looked at her boss in confusion and then back at the man who had started it all.

He grinned, no trace of remorse in his eyes. Instead, there was a sparkle and the lingering gleam of passion, which only made her feel more un­settled. It was time to regain control of the situation.

"Why did you do that?" she demanded.

"I thought you were someone else. My mistake." He cocked his head to the right as he studied her face. "I guess you don't look much like her after all, and you sure as hell don't kiss like her."

Maggie frowned at what sounded like a negative comparison, but as her manager cleared his throat again, she realized this stranger's opinion of her was the least of her problems.

"Do you have a reservation?" she asked, getting back to business.

"Cole Hastings."

She put his name into the computer. "How do you want to pay for this?"

He pushed a credit card across the counter. She ran the card and then completed the check-in while Harry Stone watched her every move.

"Room 316 would be a better choice," Harry said as the assigned room number appeared on the screen.

She cast him a quick look. Room 316 was on the street side and over the garbage area. It was the worst room in the hotel. "We have an opening on the fourth floor," she replied in a hushed voice.

"No, that one is reserved." He reached over her and punched the buttons to change the room number. Maggie had no choice but to hand Mr. Hastings a key and hope he wouldn't come to her to complain.