Man of My Heart

age gap

Man of My Heart Jasmine Grey is an up and coming country rock star, just completing a successful tour opening for a top country rock group. If only her bass player, Cobra, would leave her alone. Enter Caleb Branam, former Delta Force now an agent for The Omega Team but recovering from a hostage rescue gone wrong. As the days go by the attraction between them grows more and more intense. When she returns to the road and Cobra begins his campaign of harassment, it will be up to Caleb to stop it for good and for both of them to realize what they feel for each other is the real deal. But will they be able to? For Kari Loftin life was all about control, in every aspect of it. But she realized that at forty two she had managed to shut out every form of pleasure by keeping a tight rein on herself. With her beloved Cubs on a winning streak, she tossed away her control for one night and ventured into the world of Petey’s Sports Bar. Little did she expect to meet a hot young stud like Riley Tucker, who showed her a side of herself she’d never dared to explore. One night together and Riley wanted more. Much more. Could Kari get past the age difference—something that didn’t seem to bother Riley at all?

Man of My Heart is created by Desiree Holt, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1

Part One: Letting Go

Kari Loftin settled the Chicago Cubs cap on her sleek brown hair and walked into the sports bar of the hotel as if she came here every day. She didn't go to bars alone unless she was meeting someone on business. It had always seemed so...shady to her. She might not even be here tonight except the Cubs were in first place in all of major league baseball and sitting home alone trying to celebrate sucked. Her life needed some shaking up.

At forty two she was finally tired of living in the past and having no future. Of telling herself she was satisfied with her pitiful excuse for a s*x life. Of putting herself in the position where that s*x life only left her with groping middle-aged men who popped Viagra like candy.

Today, when nothing had allowed her breathing room from the iron control she always fought to keep in place, she'd realized how empty she'd deliberately made her life. There was something to be said for letting go. If she could make herself do it. All the gods and goddesses willing, before her courage ran out, tonight she 'd find a man who could help her live our her secret fantasies.

And so, like some obsessed sports fan-well, wasn't that what she was?-she'd dug out her Cubs t-shirt and cap and slapped on the makeup-soft tonight, for a change. She'd almost chickened when she gave herself one last mirror check. Even her daily exercise couldn't quite do anything about her full breasts, wide hips and what she preferred to call 'lush' thighs. She had her mother's figure and there wasn't much she could do about it. She looked at herself and sighed. Oh, well. If nothing else happened at least she was going to enjoy her favorite baseball team in something other than solitude.

She'd taken herself off to the most dignified sports bar she knew of. Petey's, at the Hotel Vistana. Now that she was here, what did she do? Where did she begin? The pregame show was on the four televisions placed strategically around the darkened room. The chatter of conversation was like a low hum throughout the paneled room, something she knew would escalate once the game began.

All the tables were jammed with people joking and cheering and toasting the Cubbies. Even the bar was full, except for one seat, squarely between a man with elegant grey hair and someone much younger wearing, of all things, a pony tail. Another poster boy for the little blue pills, she was sure. But the young stud...that was something else. Could she do it? Take the chance and put herself out there? A shiver of nerves skittered over her spin.

Shocking herself with her boldness, she edged herself up onto the stool and leaned her arms on the bar. Her eyes went immediately to the plasma screen nearly in front of her. Zambrano was pitching for Chicago, it was already the third inning and the Cubs led three to nothing. Good. Time for a drink. That should help her courage.

The bartender slid a napkin in front of her. What can I get for you?"

Kari wrinkled her forehead. This didn't seem to be the time for wine or a cosmopolitan, and straight whiskey knocked her feet out from under her. Well, what the hell. She was watching a baseball game, right?

"A beer. Lone Star. In the bottle if you have it."

"Coming right up."

"A woman after my own heart." The voice was as warm, and smooth as molasses with a drawl that made her knees weak.

"Excuse me?"

The pony tail on the left turned his head and smiled at her, and Kari nearly fell off her stool. Hair the color of onyx framed a face so masculine it needed the thick lashes framing his eyes to soften it. And what eyes. A shocking emerald green, flashing brighter than the real thing. And that smile. Chiseled lips that might as well have worn a sign saying "Kiss me and let me stick my tongue down your throat." All this and a body that came from hard work, not a gym, the muscles in his arms flexing as he lifted his bottle and tipped it at her.

The worst part of it was he couldn't be a day over thirty. Okay, maybe thirty one. She wanted young, but holy s**t! This was a terrible mistake. What would he want with someone so much older than he was? A man with his looks could have his pick of any woman in the bar. Any bar.

Her body, however, thought it was just fine. Her n*****s hardened to almost painful points, every pulse point began to throb and a sudden rush of cream flooded her panties. She couldn't even remember the last time a man had been able to coax this kind of response from her, but here was pony tail doing it with just a smile.

Oh, god. She was in such trouble.

For a moment panic overrode everything else and she nearly leaped off the stool and ran for the door. But then the bartender was there with her beer and pony tail touched his bottle to hers.

"To the Cubbies," he smiled.

"To the Cubbies." Her voice sounded shaky even to herself. She grabbed her bottle, tipped it back and took a long swallow.

Bad move. Her throat seemed to quit working while the liquid was still sliding through it and she choked hard enough to spew the beer. Her face flamed with heat as she realized most of it had landed on the shirt of pony tail.

"Ohmigod." She wiped the back of her mouth with her hand, the grabbed the paper napkin from the bar and began dabbing at his shirt.

Big mistake.

Beneath the soft fabric of the shirt was a wall of muscle as hard as concrete, and warm even through the material. She jerked her hand back as if she'd burned it.

"I am so sorry," she stammered. "Please. I'm not usually such an uncoordinated slob."

But I don't remember the last time I met a man I wanted to f**k like this, either. Especially at my age. My friends and my staff would freeze in shock if they could see me.

"No problem." His mouth curved in a sexy grin and his warm hand closed over hers. "I've had more than beer spilled on this shirt. You might want to try drinking a little slower, though."

Kari wanted to crawl beneath the bar stool in embarrassment. She might have tried except a raucous cheer broke out at that moment and she swiveled her eyes to the television screen.

"What happened?"

"Derek Lee just hit a three-run homer," the bartender told her. "The Cubs are ahead five to nothing."

"Ohmigod." Without thinking Kari threw her arms around pony tail, at the same time jostling the grey-haired man on the other side of her.

"Can't you kids control yourselves," he complained, his voice thin and grating.

Good thing I didn't try to get friendly with him.

But in seconds Kara realized she still had her arms around pony tail's neck, her hard-nippled breasts pushed against the wall of his chest. Worse yet, he was hugging her back. She dropped her arms quickly and pushed herself away, lost her balance and grabbed for his thigh. More muscle flexed beneath her touch and her pulse speeded up. At least get his name, Kari, before you attack him.

"I am so sorry." She was sure her face would be a permanent shade of red. She hitched herself back onto her stool, being very careful not to knock over her beer.

His laugh was even sexier than his grin. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. But before we become even more intimate, maybe we should introduce ourselves." He held out his hand. "Riley Tucker. Cubs fan."

Intimate? Oh, god.

She wiped her hand on her jeans before grabbing his. "Hi. Kari. Genuine klutz."

"Oh, I don't think so. Maybe just enthusiastic." He waited an expectant look on his face. "Well?"

She frowned. "Well what?"

"Well, Kari what?"

"Just...Kari." She grinned. "You know. Like Jewel or Cher."

No last names. Not for tonight.

"Okay, Just Kari." He took a pull of his beer. "So I gather from the t-shirt and cap you're a Cubs fan. Otherwise you wouldn't be in the middle of all this insanity, right?"

Kari nodded. "Oh, yes. For a long time. I think I have 'Wait until next year' tattooed on my back."

One dark eyebrow lifted. "Really? I don't suppose I could see it."

Kari felt herself blush again as she realized what she'd said. Not exactly a smooth come-on line. She just couldn't seem to keep her reflexes under control or her foot out of her mouth.

"Well, it's, um, I don't mean it's exactly tattooed."

"Too bad." The sexy grin appeared again. "I'd consider it a pleasure to look at it."

Kari tried to settle herself better in her seat and change the subject. "So. You in San Antonio on business or pleasure?"

"A little bit of both. What about you?"

"Oh, I live here."

"You do. So. Are you meeting someone? Waiting for someone?"

Which is a better answer? Yes? No?

"Actually tonight I just wasn't in the mood to watch the game alone. It's not a lot of fun. I want to have someone to cheer with." She felt compelled to explain herself. "I don't usually go to bars alone like this."

One corner of his mouth kicked up and his eyes devoured her face. "I didn't think you did. You don't strike me as a woman like that."

She giggled nervously. "You mean someone clumsy who spills beer on people?"

He leaned close enough to lower his voice. "No. Not at all. I meant a beautiful woman who probably has men following her down the street."

He reached out a hand and touched her cheek, a caress so light she wasn't even sure it happened, but it made tiny shivers race along her spine.

A raucous shout went up from the crowd again, Riley sifted away from her and they both looked at the screen.

Riley pointed to the message running across the screen. "Zambrano just struck out three in a row."

"He's incredible this year."

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