Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

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Next: Chapter Five

Chapter Four


After a few days, Cane was well into the routine of Alexandra’s everyday life. Whether it was her early morning run, the gym, her classes at FIT, or her social events, he was getting more and more insight into what made her tick.

Not that she ever let down her guard enough to ever really have a real conversation with him. All their interaction remained on a professional level - but he was still able to see beyond her remote façade to glimpse how vulnerable she really was inside.

Yes she had friends; had a highly sociable life when she wasn’t working on her designs or taking classes, but there was no doubt that beneath it all, Alexandra wasn’t all she seemed to be. The confident, talented and beautiful young woman held a secret that flickered just behind the orbs of her soulful eyes. Had she been hurt in the past? Was that why she seemed to have no love life to speak of?

Not that he was the one to judge. He hadn’t been in a serious relationship in years, and he wasn’t going to count those few flings that had been all physical and no substance. No woman held first place in his heart; all Cane cared about now was his job. He had no real family; he’d been adopted as a child and had lost his adoptive parents when he was sixteen. By seventeen he’d signed up with the Navy and it was the military that had shaped him into the man he was today.

He wasn’t looking for love or romance and wasn’t sure he even believed in it. And yet there was a part of him that wondered if out there was a woman who could make him feel complete; fill the void that even his successful career in the Navy Seals as well as his job in close protection could never do. He knew something was missing but he just couldn’t be sure he’d even know it when he found it.

He settled in the back of the hall where Alexandra was taking her classes that day, keeping busy on his laptop with the news updates and current affairs online while the class discussed about the history of worsted wool or some such. His eyes kept getting drawn to Alexandra, and he couldn’t help but notice that although she seemed as engrossed in the class as the others, there were times she scribbled in her notebook and let her mind wander. A part of him wished he knew what she was thinking and if she’d ever let anyone close to the real her. The Alexandra she hid away from the outside world, kept well wrapped in protective covering.

Only yesterday he’d called Noah for a progress report.

“Still want out of the gig?” Noah had asked a few minutes into the call. “Because Halliday is back from his assignment traipsing around Europe protecting that rock star’s son on vacation. He wouldn’t mind taking over for you.”

Instead of giving a direct answer, Cane asked, “Do you really think there’s any authenticity in the belief that Alexandra could be in danger?”

“Her old man seems to thinks so,” was Noah’s thoughtful reply. “It was something about what the competitor said when they had their last negotiations. The man’s name is Pat Vincent and to some he’s considered no more than a hood dressed in a Saville Row suit. The guy’s bad news and isn’t always known to play by the books even in the confines of corporate gentility.”

“So what have we got?” queried Cane.

“Well, according to Duke, Vincent made a few offhand comments advising Duke to start to pay more attention to family and not just the business since everyone knows how driven Duke is when it comes to his corporate pursuits. Duke wasn’t comfortable with those statements and he’s not taking chances. Vincent could use underhand means to see to it that Duke loses his winning stance on a recent billion-dollar merger and acquisition their companies were competing for.”

“I’ve heard of Pat Vincent; Duke’s right to be cautious,” Cane replied. When money and power were involved, he wouldn’t be surprised how far some people were willing to take their business rivalry. Vincent was every inch a gangster who’d shouldered his way into Wall Street and now was doing his best to win respectability within the esteemed commercial environment.

Which meant that going after the daughter of his business rival would not only prove a stupid move, but detrimental. Cane didn’t think that even Vincent would be that dumb.

“Duke’s got private investigators following it up on Vincent, just in case. In the meantime, Alexandra is to be closely watched,” Noah said.

Cane had wanted to assure his friend and boss that he had no problems at all watching Alexandra – all day. But he wasn’t sure it would sound appropriate. If Noah got even an inkling of the things that went through Cane’s mind where Ms. Duke was concerned, Cane knew Noah might just be shocked.

Alexandra was nothing like the women Cane had dated in the past. Since he didn’t really put much stock in love, he’d never really been that discerning when it came to his female liaisons. So long as she fulfilled his physical needs, he required nothing else. And offered nothing more. Why was he now beginning to see how shallow that existence seemed? What was it about his new job as Alexandra’s bodyguard that was opening his eyes to new, dangerous possibilities?

Alexandra was beautiful in ways unique from what Cane interpreted as beauty in the past. The skinny, blonde types or those whose assets mostly came from silicone implants usually found their way into his bed way too much. Alexandra could in no way be called fat but she did pack some serious curves. And boy did they make his fingers itch for things he’d never known he could wish for. Like grabbing that luscious ass in his palms and squeezing so hard he’d leave imprints.

Her body oozed sensuality even when she was just in a t-shirt and jeans. Her solid, toned hips and magnificently formed grapefruit-sized breasts told him she was all woman; but when you looked into her big, brown eyes you could almost believe she was like the girl next door just on the verge of going from nice to very, very naughty.

He wasn’t sure how long he could play the game of acting immune to her looks. Even her dismissive attitude could not really keep him from wondering what it would be like, having a woman like Alexandra Duke tumble into his arms – or into his bed.

Cane could toy with the idea as much as he wanted in his head, but even he knew it would never work out. For one thing, she probably hated his guts. And for the other, he never mixed work with pleasure. Everyone in his line of work knew that distractions were a recipe for disaster. Cane just had to decide how long he could keep himself within line of temptation, and still manage to keep his hand out of the cookie jar.

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Next: Chapter Five