Designed for Love
Designed for Love
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- Enemies to Lovers
- Childhood Friends
- Mistaken Identity
Maggie Winters is on the cusp of all her dreams coming true. She’s worked for years as a budding fashion designer, and her brand new boutique could be just what she needs to finally make her mark in her small town. What she doesn’t need is an arrogant big-city-guy like Jason Briggs coming in and taking over her carefully laid plans—even if he holds the key to making her new venture a success. After all, he’s a cutthroat businessman who couldn’t possibly appreciate the quirkiness that makes her designs unique. And Maggie’s learned the hard way that men in the industry simply can’t be trusted.
Jason Briggs may be the sought-after CEO of a media conglomerate, but not many people know the story of his rapid rise to the top and he likes it that way. His past is shrouded in mystery. But that past quickly resurfaces when he comes to Willow Valley and finds himself face to face with Maggie—who played more of a role in the man he became then she could possibly imagine. Especially since she doesn’t seem to recognize him as the shy young boy she knew once upon a time.
When Maggie begins to unravel the truth of Jason’s past, will she finally open her heart again? Or will the secrets she uncovers destroy everything she’s ever wanted?
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter One
Nothing much changed in Willow Valley. The town square looked the same. The buildings and shops were all the same—with a few new additions here and there. The kids running around the park with their harried mothers chasing behind were a new generation, but it was basically the same. Nothing had really changed since the last time he was here.
Nothing except Maggie Winters.
Sitting on a bench across the street from the new shop going in on the town square, Jason Briggs sipped his coffee. His eyes followed the tall strawberry blonde he could see through the glass of the shop’s front window display. She was dancing.
Jason’s lips tilted up in a grin as he tipped the cup back, draining the last of his coffee. He leaned over and tossed the paper cup in the nearest bin. Now he needed another excuse to remain on the park bench watching Maggie or he might look like a total creeper.
He wondered what she might think if she caught sight of him. She didn’t expect him to be back in town until tomorrow.
He could just walk into her shop right now and surprise her. The look on her face would be priceless. He’d already deduced that she’d enlisted the help of her siblings to get her new boutique in order before he showed up. Last minute—just like Maggie.
Jason smiled, liking the idea of taking her off guard. She seemed to always have it all together—or liked to give the appearance of it, anyway. But Jason knew better. He saw through Maggie’s put-together act and knew Maggie was a total mess. Always had been, and he wouldn’t have her any other way.
You aren’t going to have her in any way, he reminded himself. Especially when she finally figured out who he was. How she didn’t recognize him when they met a few months back, he had no idea. Surely he hadn’t changed that much in the last ten years. Yeah, his hair was different. He’d grown taller and filled out—replacing the baby fat that had lingered through his teenage years with solid muscle. But could someone really change so much that they weren’t recognizable?
Maggie looked different, too, though not so much he wouldn’t recognize her. Where she’d been a tall, gangly, scrawny girl the last time he’d seen her, she was all woman now. Long, lean limbs and full curves. The way he remembered her before, she’d almost looked like the models he sometimes-dated back home in New York—those who were waif thin and subsisted on salads. Now she looked more like a lingerie model. Or maybe a fifties pin-up model.
Yeah, that was it. She had that old pin-up vibe going on. And it was sexy as hell. Jason could practically see the bottom of her ass in those ridiculously short cut-off jean shorts. Her red-and-white checkered halter top was tied up around her rib cage, giving him a great view of her toned, tanned stomach. And her blonde hair gleamed in the sun beneath the scarf she had it tied up in, hints of red catching the light.
Jason admired the way Maggie moved as she danced her way out of the shop and started hauling a giant clothing rack from the back of a truck parked on the street. Her lean muscles were strong but still feminine. Her mouth was set in a determined line as she balanced the base of the rack over her shoulder before leaning back into the truck bed for a giant metal ring.
Jason quirked an eyebrow, wondering how she was going to get that inside all by herself. In the next moment, he realized she wasn’t. Maggie stood back up, losing her balance, staggering under the weight of the rack.
In seconds flat, Jason was across the street, his arms reaching out to steady her as she stumbled backward—right into his chest.
“Oof!” The breath was knocked right out of him as Maggie’s elbow made contact with his ribs. The next thing he knew, he was toppling backward as well—his arms instinctively wrapping around her waist.
“What the hell?” Maggie’s voice came out in a screech. She somehow managed to whip her body around as they fell—then landed right on top of him, chest pressed into his.
Through all of that, Maggie hadn’t let go of the clothing rack. The metal bar swung around and hit him squarely in the face.
For a second, everything was silent. Then:
“Oh my god! Jason!” Maggie jerked her head back, her eyes wide with shock as she stared down at him. “Are you okay?”
Jason groaned, his hand going to his potentially broken nose as stars swam in front of his eyes. Were his ears ringing? He blinked a couple of times to clear his vision—until he only saw two horrified green eyes looking at him instead of four—and sucked in a breath.
“You’re dangerous, woman,” he muttered.
He did a quick self-check to make sure nothing was actually broken, only then becoming fully aware of exactly how they’d landed on the gritty asphalt.
He was flat on his back, Maggie straddling his waist, her hips dangerously close to his. Her calf was hooked around his thigh, tangled from their fall. Jason was trapped beneath her—and suddenly liked the way she looked hovering over him way too much.
When she leaned forward to peer into his eyes, her scarf slipped from her head and blonde waves came tumbling free, falling down around his face. Maggie reached out and gently touched her fingers to his nose.
“Watch it there, Peaches.” His reaction to her touch was so intense that Jason sucked in another sharp breath. He quickly gripped her hips and shifted her off of him before she became aware of just what her intoxicating scent was doing to him.
“Peaches?” Maggie’s eyebrows flew up as she sat back on her heels.
Jason winced, but only because he shouldn’t have been so careless with his words. Peaches was what he’d called her before, that long ago summer when they were just kids, referring not only to her hair that had a pinkish-golden tint, but to the fragrance she seemed to naturally emanate. She still smelled the same as she always had. And it was clouding his ability to think rationally.
He shrugged, pushing up from the ground to stand and put a little distance between them before he really lost his head. He lifted his fingers to his nose again and gingerly checked for damage. No blood. That was a good sign. At least it wasn’t broken, though he was pretty sure it was already swelling.
“Seems fitting,” he said, brushing off her question as he reached a hand down to help her up.
He didn’t really want to get into that now. She hadn’t figured out who he was yet—even though this was his third visit to Willow Valley—and he kind of wanted to keep it that way for the time being. To find out more about what Maggie was like now without the filter of their past. To know what she might think of who he was now instead of the kid she remembered him as—if she remembered him at all.
It was entirely possible she’d left way more of a mark on him than he had for her.
“Don’t call me that,” she muttered, ignoring his outstretched hand and pushing to her feet. She bit her lip and peered at his nose, her hand coming up as if she needed to check it for herself.
“I’m good.” He waved her hand away, but when he turned, his hand went to an ache in his ribs. She’d likely bruised those, too. “Nice elbow to the ribs, by the way,” he said with a wry grin. “Remind me to never find myself alone with you in a dark alley.”
Maggie snorted, leaning back against the truck and crossing her arms over her chest. “Do you often hide out in dark alleys back in the big city?”
There was a mocking look on her face, a soft smirk curving her lips, but that wasn’t what he noticed first. Maggie looked like some kind of centerfold model standing there in those clothes—arms pressing her breasts together, hair a tangled mess, hip jutted out. The old pickup with peeling paint parked behind her. It gave him all kinds of sexy ideas about a new marketing campaign for her line of clothes—the real reason he was there.
Jason had to keep reminding himself that was why he’d returned to Willow Valley. Business, plain and simple. But he couldn’t seem to leave Maggie’s comment well enough alone.
Jason lifted an eyebrow. “Only in the company of a beautiful woman.”
He was teasing her, trying to get a reaction out of her. To see how she might respond.
Maggie snorted again and pushed away from the truck, giving him his answer. “Whatever, Mr. Briggs,” she said, her lips twisting as she spoke his name. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do.”
She turned and bent to pick up the clothing rack, but Jason intercepted her. He reached down and hoisted up the circular top of the clothing rack, smiling as another idea took shape.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, hands on her hips.
“Helping you get your work done. What does it look like?”
Maggie’s mouth dropped open, and he turned away, walking toward the doors of the shop that were propped open. He didn’t have to look at her face to know that she was shooting daggers at him, those emerald eyes boring into his back like lasers.
He grinned. He loved getting her all riled up. It was almost too easy.
Maybe Maggie Winters hadn’t changed all that much, after all.