Grace (The Family Simon #5)- Juliana Stone


“You had blue hair the last time I saw you.”

Grace Simon should have recognized the deep husky timbre of the voice that spoke from behind her. Heck, she’d dreamt about it off and on for the last two years. But she was already onto her third cocktail, and in her defense, the music was loud.

So instead, she grimaced and rolled her eyes at her friend Nicola. She didn’t bother to turn around and see who was behind her. She didn’t care. She’d been fending off men for over an hour and was fed up.

“Worst pickup line ever,” she shot over her shoulder before downing the rest of her drink.

“Ever?” He was closer now. Annoying.

“Ever,” she repeated.

“That’s some kind of record considering it wasn’t a pickup line but the full-on truth.”

Her pal Nicola elbowed her and mouthed hot. Whatever. Grace was done with men. DONE. She should have known better than to meet Nicola here. The place was a meat market.

She pushed back from the bar and turned to let the guy have it. But the words stalled at the back of her throat and she went still. Her gaze moved up the impressive physique, (seriously jeans and a plain white T-shirt had no right to look this good) until it rested on a face that she’d fantasized about more times than she could count. Matt Hawkins.

What the hell?

“Hey Grace,” he said, a slow smile curving his lips. “Your brother told me you were in Nashville. I’ll have to let him know I ran into you.”

Heart beating rapidly, she cleared her throat but all she could muster was, “Ah...hey.” Lame. So. Very. Lame.

“Babe, I hate country music. Can’t we go somewhere else?” A blue-eyed blonde slid up against Matt—a blue-eyed blonde with considerable assets. Grace liked to think that Double D’s were overrated, but this girl kind of trampled all over that argument.

Matt held Grace’s gaze for a heartbeat longer, and she hoped like hell the deep flush that heated her skin wasn’t visible in the darkened corner of the bar.

“Matt?” The blonde said, eyes narrowed as she turned to Grace.

“I’m Grace,” she blurted, holding out her hand like an idiot. The woman tilted her head and nodded, but didn’t reach for Grace’s hand. “Candy.”

Candy. Of course.

There was a pause. A slow, torturous, uncomfortable pause, and then Matt winked at her. He winked at her. As if she was a kid or something.

“I…uh…so what are you doing here? I mean, not here at this bar, but like, here in…Nashville. I mean, it’s so weird that we ran into each other.” Stop talking. “Here, in…uh, Nashville.”

Nicola was looking at her as if she’d lost her mind and Grace was starting to think that, YES, she had. She’d lost her mind, along with her ability to think and talk and act like an adult.

Matt’s slow grin didn’t subside and Grace’s heart fluttered rapidly. “It was just a quick trip to meet a client. I’m leaving in the morning.”

“Oh.” Again, could she not come up with more than a one-word response?

He slid his arm around the blonde. “It was nice seeing you again, Grace.” Another heartbeat passed and that tumbling feeling in her stomach intensified. “I’ll let you get back to your friend.”

She didn’t say another word because she couldn’t, and with a small nod he turned and melted into the crowd, the busty woman clinging to him. Grace blew out a hot breath and reached for her drink, swearing when she scooped up the empty glass.

“Who the hell was that?” Nicola asked as she yanked on Grace’s arm.

“That was Matt,” Grace whispered.

“Matt,” Nicola repeated, frowning.


“Oh, that Matt,” Nicola said, this time slowly.

“Yeah,” Grace replied. That Matt.

The guy who’d kissed her like no tomorrow beneath a snow-filled sky. It didn’t matter that Grace had been the one to initiate the kiss. Or that she’d ignored his protests and had practically assaulted him. It didn’t even matter that when he’d eventually managed to pull away from her, he’d told her that it was all wrong. Said that he wasn’t the kind of guy she should be kissing in the first place. She’d protested. He’d said he wasn’t interested.

Matt Hawkins had taken a step back and that’s when she’d glimpsed something in his eyes that told her otherwise. She’d called bullshit, but he’d walked away all the same. Without another word or a look…without anything.

That had stung. It had stung for a long time because Matt Hawkins had been wrong. So damn wrong. His kiss had rocked