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Her Reluctant Boss
Her Reluctant Boss

Grant Brothers Romance

Sometimes it takes coming home to know what you’ve been missing.

Simon Grant, one of seven billionaire brothers, returns home to Sun Valley to find the woman of his dreams working at his family’s restaurant, but she turns him down. When he finds out that she is Hannah Fields, a neighbor girl who he’d crushed on as a boy, his affection and admiration for her only increases. He sets out on a mission to win Hannah’s heart, even if it means upsetting his brother in the process. When a mutual friend gives Simon Hannah’s bucket list, he will do what it takes to help her realize those goals. What he doesn’t know is that what he has is not her bucket list, it’s a list of her worst fears.

Hannah Fields, recently home from law school, is ready to start her career in her favorite place on earth, Sun Valley. When she interviews with Grant and Grant, she assures the owner of the law firm, Simon Grant, Senior, that she will not date any of her co-workers. She regrets her promise the moment she lays eyes on one of the most attractive men she’s ever met, the eldest son in the billionaire empire, Simon Grant, Junior. She wants Simon to commit to her, but every time she lets down her guard, he withdraws and has her doing things that scare her to death. Will he ever come around, or will her fears keep them apart?

Her Reluctant Boss is the first book in the Grant Family Romances by Sarah Gay. The second book in the Grant Family Romances is The Billionaire Patriot

Also in the Billionaire Boss Series by bestselling authors Cami Checketts and Jennifer Youngblood:


Exerpt

Chapter 1

Simon sat on the piano stool and closed his eyes, allowing his mind to float back in time to when his fingers danced across the slick ivory keys in the expensive café in Paris. He smiled at how he’d earned a free meal and made a few extra bucks that one night three years ago when he’d sat down at the vacant piano stool of the crowded restaurant on a dare and played a unique rendition of “C’est Si Bon.” The aroma of roasted onions and truffles sizzling in butter wafted through the Mandolin restaurant, bringing his memories of France to the forefront of his mind; he could almost taste the thick Parisian air, silty with baguette flour.

“How’s my star pupil?” boomed a familiar voice.

Simon’s eyes popped open and he jumped from the piano stool to hug his old piano instructor, Roy. Roy was only a few years older than Simon, but he’d been a master at the piano before he’d lost all his baby teeth. Simon could hardly fit his arms around the guy; Roy’s girth had increased over the past five years. “How’s my favorite hunter?” Simon asked. Roy was an excellent shot as well as an excellent musician.

“The prodigal son has returned.” Roy chuckled as he returned Simon’s hug. “I’m guessing you’re the guy the job coach from Workforce Services should talk to when he comes in. He wanted to stop by and discuss the employees he’s sent us with special needs.”

“When will he be here?”

“I think he said he’ll be coming in before we open. What are you doing here tonight?”

“We’re low on bussers. I promised my great-grandpa I’d come in and help out.”

“Good to have you back,” Roy said, giving Simon a hearty smack on the back.

“It’s good to be—” Simon lost his train of thought when the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen sauntered into the room. His eyes widened as her long legs carried her across the room with unforgiving confidence, but she didn’t walk to impress; she couldn’t have known that she had an audience. Her huge green eyes smiled at Roy but didn’t make their way to Simon. Simon blinked a few times while his gaze followed her swift steps across the room until she ultimately disappeared into the kitchen.

Roy patted Simon on the shoulder. “Sometimes it takes coming home to realize what you’ve been missing.”

Simon blew out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “I’d say. Who is she?”

“She’s too good for you. Don’t even think about her,” said Roy.

Simon pulled at his beard. That sounded like a challenge. “We’ll see about that.”

Roy laughed. “Have you looked in the mirror lately? With your shaggy hair and unkempt beard, you look like you’re the long-lost Sasquatch who happened to stumble out of the woods and into this fine gastronomic establishment for a snack.”

“By the end of the night,” Simon said with a cunning smile, “she’ll be asking me for my phone number.”

Roy held out his hand. “Fifty bucks?”

“You’re on,” said Simon, giving Roy’s hand a firm shake.


Hannah Fields swayed to the live piano music as she walked across the Mandolin restaurant. She’d never been to France, but when she was in the restaurant, with its bright mustard walls decorated with Impressionist-styled paintings in thick gold frames, she could’ve sworn she was there. Roy played French piano music during the three hours the five-star French restaurant was open in the evenings, adding to the ambiance—until the end of the night, when he played Hannah’s favorite blues compilation. He knew she liked the more upbeat blues, like “When You’re Smiling…” She didn’t mind the romantic Parisian café music, but she loved ending her shift to the deep silky sounds of the old-town blues.

She leaned across the table of the empty booth and blew out a dying candle. Casting a quick glance back at her last customers, who were sitting at the farthest table across the room, she discreetly stretched out her sore legs by pushing up off the table as she stood back up. The Mandolin restaurant had been busy tonight, but that wasn’t why her legs ached; she’d skied hard the last few days to get in as much fresh air and spring sunshine as possible before the resorts closed for the season. The snow had been slushy and thick, so it had been like trying to ski across the sticky side of duct tape, but it was well worth the effort—as was the subsequent pain it left her in. She loved her mountains; she’d been away from them for far too long. She was finally home to stay—for good.

With the end of ski season came the end of busy shifts at the Mandolin. Hopefully, she’d get the job tomorrow. She needed the money. Her interview with the Law Offices of Grant and Grant could be her opportunity to settle down in the valley where she’d been raised. She’d finally be able to live like she had as a kid before her parents’ divorce—before all the comforts of wealth had disappeared. She was tired of being poor in a town where the rich and famous flocked in to ski in the winter, then returned in the summer to golf, hike, and ride horses. And the wealthy residents were only getting richer; there was a millionaire for every poor kid and a billionaire for every widow. Hannah laughed to herself while she wiped down the next table; the local joke on the street was that every local widow sought out her own personal billionaire to wed.

While Hannah spritzed the table with antibacterial spray, then wiped it down with the damp white cloth, she wondered where the busser had gone. He’d followed her around all evening, clearing her tables. She wanted to tip him out and thank him for his hard work.

The managers at the Mandolin had big hearts. They typically employed older individuals with special needs to bus the tables, or kids in high school who needed discipline. She wondered if the busser had special needs. She’d seen him talking to the job coach from Workforce Services who’d come in earlier to check on his placements, but the busser didn’t appear to be mentally slow. He wasn’t physically slow, either; he’d cleaned Hannah’s tables the moment her customers stood to leave. He had a rough appearance, like he’d lived on the streets for a time, but there were moments that evening while she rushed from table to table when she’d caught him staring at her. His eyes were a warm honey brown and surprisingly alert; they didn’t have the dazed look she’d seen on the faces of people who lived on the streets. But to be working as a busboy at his age? He must have come from hard circumstances or had a mental disability.

At least he was more interesting than the young brats who sometimes bussed for her. Sometimes bussed for me? She laughed at herself. She’d only been home for a few weeks since she’d passed the bar. The owners of the Mandolin were kind to always hire her when she was in town. The kids who came to bus tables were millionaire brats with insanely bad attitudes and phone addictions. The only time she could remember rich kids bussing tables and doing a decent job at it was when the Grant brothers took their turns in high school for a year or two before they left for college.

She’d been in the same grade as one of the Grant brothers. She searched her mind for his name, then snapped her fingers: Levi. When she and Levi were young, they’d been friends. They’d gone to the same private school together, along with Levi’s older brother and five younger brothers. She’d never been able to keep them straight; they were all so close in age and appearance.

After Hannah’s parents had gotten divorced when she was in high school, her father had taken off with his mistress and every penny of her parents’ savings; he’d left them and their hefty house payment behind. Hannah’s mom went back to work, and Hannah started attending public schools. She didn’t see Levi again until they worked together at the Mandolin their senior year of high school, but he hadn’t recognized her. She was a hostess and he was a busser. He’d never said one word to her that entire year they worked together. He hadn’t been rude to her; he simply kept his distance. She chalked it up to him not knowing who she was or that she even existed.

Their lives had been set on different trajectories. He’d been sent to an Ivy League institution back east. She’d attended a community college, gone on to graduate with a BA in English from the University of Idaho, then gotten into their law school. And here she was, finally back in her favorite place and ready to work, but employment was limited. If she wanted to stay in the beautiful little hamlet of Sun Valley and Ketchum, she needed a decent-paying job to cover the high cost of living.

She didn’t mind not being rich. In fact, she wanted nothing to do with the pomp and glam that flew in on their sleek corporate jets and posh helicopters. She’d had plenty of suggestive offers over the past few weeks from both Hollywood and Wall Street. It hadn’t been difficult to turn them down; she wanted to make it on her own terms. She wouldn’t make the same mistake her mother had, marrying a wealthy man with wandering eyes who kept a sleazy attorney in his back pocket. She’d be the attorney to knock the sleaze back to where he came from. She planned on marrying a family man, not a man who stopped into her little town on his journey to fortune and fame. Her mind was set on a settler, not a wanderer.

“Excuse me. Can I help you?” the tall, hairy busser said as he reached across the table and picked up the candle and salt and pepper shakers. For a bushy nomad, he sure smelled good.

“Yeah. Thanks,” she said with a tender smile. “You did a great job tonight. Don’t leave before I can tip you out, okay?”

His mouth opened into a toothy grin, displaying straight white teeth. Perfect teeth weren’t what she was expecting from his gruff appearance. She thought he’d have at least one missing tooth. “I’m okay,” he said with an adorable blink of his caramel eyes. He didn’t seem slow, but by the kind way in which he stared into her eyes, he could be somewhere on the spectrum.

“Look, you saved me tonight. After I get payment from this last table, meet me at the piano.”

He nodded and walked away, but not before he caught the glimmer of amusement that lit his eyes. She couldn’t imagine why, other than that he simply had a happy, kind demeanor, as did most people she’d known with mental disabilities.

The men at the last occupied table in the restaurant didn’t look like they were anywhere near ready to leave with how they were still joking around. She’d dropped their check off to them twenty minutes earlier, and they still hadn’t touched it. She’d never had to kick customers out before, but perhaps she could hurry them along.

She stepped up to the table and spoke loudly. “How are we doing over here? Can I get you some more water and take that check for you?”

The middle-aged men looked up at her simultaneously and their laughter cut short. The man closest to her with a thick mustache nodded. “Could you bring us another …” He held up his glass.

She bowed slightly. “I apologize, but the bar is closed for the evening.”

The man slammed his glass back down onto the table. Luckily, the owners had invested in high-quality glassware, saving the man’s hand from injury. “I have a better idea, Hannah,” the man said, staring at her name tag before his eyes wandered to her chest. “Come with me and I’ll take you to a place where the bar is still open, and I’ll buy you a drink.”

She tried to shield the anger from her voice. “That is kind of you, but I’ll be closing up tonight. If we could get your check taken care of, our hosts will help you get to your next destination safely.”

“The only destination I want to get is right here,” the man said, placing his large hand on her bottom.

Before Hannah had a chance to smack away his hot hand, the hairy busboy grabbed him by his shoulder and threw him to the ground. The man stumbled to his feet and took a swing at the busser, connecting with his cheekbone, then reached for his throat. The busser responded with a punch to the man’s jaw. The man’s eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped to the floor.

The middle-aged man’s friends jumped from their seats and started yelling until Roy stepped between them with a growl. “We’re leaving!” one of them shouted. They quickly grabbed their bloody friend, who had woken with a moan, and plowed out of the restaurant.

“What were you thinking!” Hannah shouted at the busser. “You could’ve gotten hurt.”

He looked at her with an expression of shock.

Hannah blew out a long, slow breath. She hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings. She grabbed his hand, still formed into a fist, and examined it for injury. “But thanks.” She motioned with her head to a booth. “Come sit down and let me look at you in a better light.” She glanced at Roy, who was walking back into the room after escorting the scum out of the restaurant. “Roy, could you get us some ice, please?”

Roy’s face hardened when he looked at the busser.

“Roy, please,” Hannah insisted. Why would Roy be upset with the sweet busser?

“Okay,” Roy muttered as he pushed open the door to the kitchen.

Hannah scooted in next to the busboy on the bench and turned to face him. She carefully pushed his hair away from his face to get a good look at his cheek. The flesh under his eye had already started to darken. “Looks like you got yourself a shiner.”

“It was worth it,” he said, staring into her eyes.

A zing of excitement shot through her center. She turned her eyes down momentarily to avert his gaze. When she looked back up, he was still staring at her intently. “No, it wasn’t,” she argued.

“Yes. It was,” he said with a smile.

She shook her head, trying not to smile back at him. “Now you’re just being difficult.”

Roy handed Hannah a small bag of crushed ice. “Here you are,” he said with a light chuckle. “Wouldn’t want to spend too much time with a difficult man. I’ll be at the piano if you need me.” He nodded to the busser, then walked away.

Hannah frowned. Roy had never stuck around to play the piano after all the customers had left. “Hmm, Roy’s acting odd, but he’s the sweetest guy. And how he plays the piano …” She sighed. “It makes me smile.”

The busser lifted his brows with apparent interest. “You like it when a man plays the piano for you?”

As if on cue, Roy began playing a blues song she’d never heard him play before, “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Hannah tipped her head to the side in thought. “That’s an unusually sad song for Roy to play,” She applied the ice lightly to the busser’s cheek. “How does that feel?”

“Amazing,” he said with a blink of his eyes. “I’m sorry about those creeps.”

She shook her head in anger. “Some people think they can do anything because they have money. It makes me sick. I’d date a rich man just as soon as I’d swim in crocodile-infested waters.”

The busser coughed. “You can also swim with gentle manatees in Florida, the same place you find crocodiles. What’s sick is how those old guys thought they could touch you.”

She sighed out her agreement. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-nine.”

“Really?” she asked with surprise. “You’re only two years older than me.”

He gave her hand a light squeeze and smiled, causing her heart to flutter. Only then did she realize she’d been holding one of his hands the entire time they’d sat together on the bench; it felt so natural. He raised his free hand and dragged his fingertips down her chin. “Will you go out with me?”

She wanted to say yes, but her internal compass stopped her. What am I doing to this sweet guy who isn’t all mentally there? He was cute, but they didn’t have a future together, and she tried not to lead any guy on, especially one so tender. “No.” She released his hand, scooted off the bench, and stood. “It’s not a good idea.”

He scratched at his beard as he stood. “Is it because I’m a busser?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Sort of.” She didn’t want to hurt his feelings any more than she had to.

“I see.” With a disappointed sigh, he turned to walk away.

She held up a finger. “Wait. I haven’t tipped you out yet.”

He pulled his wallet out of his pocket, silently held up a fifty-dollar bill, and placed it in Roy’s glass jar next to the piano. “Tip Roy. He’s earned it tonight.”

Roy nodded, but he didn’t smile his appreciation to the busser like he normally did after he’d received a healthy tip; it was more of an “I told you so” quick dip of Roy’s chin and eyes.

Hannah leaned against the piano and watched as the busser trudged out of the restaurant. “Did I do the right thing? I didn’t even ask him his name. He might be a little slow, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve one date.”

Roy wrinkled his forehead. “Slow?”

Hannah waved a hand in front of her face. “I know what you’re thinking, and he was super speedy cleaning up after me tonight. What I meant was …” She scratched the back of her head, wondering if she should disclose how attracted she was to the hairy busser and how she feared she might date him for all the wrong reasons. She clicked her tongue instead of speaking. It was better to let it lie. She pulled a fifty from her waitress’s belt and tossed it into Roy’s jar, then kissed his cheek. “Thanks for stepping into the fight tonight and always watching out for me.”

Roy nodded and produced his signature wide grin. “Wouldn’t want to see you get caught with the crocodiles.”

She winked, then strolled toward the kitchen, grateful that another grueling shift had ended. She wiggled her toes in her shoes and did a little hop; she couldn’t wait for her interview at the Law Offices of Grant and Grant tomorrow.


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