From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Man on Earth comes a delicious new novel about a young woman’s dreams of finding grand romance and success in the big city–and her schemes to make both come true…
What’s a girl to do when the man she’s loved her entire life thinks of her as a little sister? Worse, her own big sister was the one who broke his heart years earlier. For Ivy Grayson, the chance to get him to see her in a different light comes when she receives an unexpected invitation to move into his luxury New York apartment building. Manhattan also just happens to be the perfect place to pursue her wish to become a successful artist. But how many dreams can one woman expect to come true?
Billionaire financier James Jordon has everything a man could want–except love. When Ivy’s family asks him to keep an eye on their “little girl” in the big city, he agrees. But the innocent girl he knew is now a dynamic woman who knows what she wants, and how to get it. He may have promised himself to keep things platonic, but ignoring the game of love isn’t an option. Especially when Ivy is so eager to play.Read an Excerpt
“Fun, quick, well-written.” - Romance At Random
4 ½ Stars! “The characters are so fun and sweet together.” – Night Owl Reviews
5 Stars! “[Warren is] an expert at weaving a story that draws you in from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the final ‘I Love You.’” – Kitty, Guilty Pleasures
“Fans of feel good contemporary romances will adore The Man Plan.” – Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“[Warren] shows again how great writers create characters with depth.” – Mary Gramlich
The end credits of To Catch a Thief rolled across the television screen, the elegant, unforgettable faces of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant consigned to memory once more.
With a quick touch to the remote, Ivy stopped the movie.
From her spot on the large L-shaped sofa, she leaned up on a single elbow and looked over to ask James if he had the energy to watch another film. Seeing him was all the answer she needed.
He was asleep.
Hair ruffled, limbs loosened in a relaxed sprawl across the plush sofa cushions and flowered throw pillows, he was breathing slowly and rhythmically, which indicated a deep sleep. His skin radiated warmth, bathed in a buttery glow of lamplight. His eyelashes lay straight against cheeks grown rough with stubble, pale as wheat chaff after a harvest cutting.
Ivy silently climbed to her sock-covered feet and edged closer.
Jet lag, she mused.
Even with the convenience and privacy of his own jet aircraft, transatlantic travel took its toll. Hours shuffled back and forth as casually as playing cards while he winged from one time zone to another, then back again. And knowing James, he hadn’t been easy on himself since his return home, running on too little sleep and too much caffeine. A good meal, pleasant conversation, and simple entertainment had done their work, lulling him into the slumber his body so obviously needed.
He shifted, his shirt bowing open at the neck, giving her a peek at the mat of golden curls covering his chest.
Did that hair feel as silky as it looked? Was it as soft as the hair on his head?
Without pausing to think, she dropped to her knees next to him and stretched out a single finger. Close, closer she moved until a solitary curl wound around the tip.
Her lips parted on a rapt sigh.
Soft yet wiry, the hair clung with a tensile strength. Heat rose from his skin, luring her nearer. How easy it would be to rest her palm on that broad plain of flesh, to thread her fingers into the short curls and stroke the skin beneath. How simple to touch her lips to the spot. How much better to touch them to his mouth, parted invitingly in sleep.
She flushed at the thought, desire making her pulse points throb. She curled her hand into a fist against her chest.
Do I dare?
She studied him, time slowing to the texture of winter molasses.
He was a heavy sleeper, hard to rouse once he became tangled in the world of dreams. Everyone in the family knew it. Hadn’t they all laughed on countless occasions, recounting tales of the summer he’d vacationed with them in Maine? How her father had finally resorted one morning to using a fog horn to blast James awake.
If she kissed him, chances were good he’d never know. And oh, how she longed to kiss him.
But what if he woke to find her there...? Hmm, what if he did?
Half-hoped-for imaginings swirled in her brain, and she couldn’t resist her mind’s urgings. Lowering her lips to his, she rested them there, delicately balanced, scarcely touching. Firm, smooth, the shape of his mouth matched hers exactly, as if it had been designed for that express purpose.
He didn’t awaken.
Emboldened, she let her eyes softly close as she increased the pressure, turning the barely there touch into a real kiss. She savored the sensation, the feeling of skin to skin, heat to heat. He tasted like honey, or some exotic variety of fruit, lush and forbidden. She softly drew a breath, her senses swimming as the scent of him flooded through her. His essence swam inside her head, on her mouth, in her nose, down her throat, better than anything she’d ever tasted.
Suddenly he shifted, his head rolling against the pillow. A groan soughed from deep in his throat.
She broke the kiss and began to sit up, but before she could move away, he clamped a hand around the back of her head and crushed her lips to his.
She squeaked as he took possession of her mouth. His turn now, he kissed her the way a man would, hungry and demanding, feeding upon her with a kind of dark intensity that permitted no resistance, expected only surrender.
Heat washed through her like a roaring blast furnace. Blood raged like a river through her veins, clouding her brain, shredding every inch of her control. She whimpered and gave herself to him completely. Let him ravage her mouth, drink in her unknowing cries, tangle his tongue with hers in a slick, velvety duel. Draped over him, she shuddered, lost in a sea of bliss.
Abruptly, he broke their kiss, his chest rising and falling in a sharp inhale, exhale. His hand fell away, body growing slack, eyes tightly closed.
Stunned, Ivy slumped onto her haunches.
Is he asleep? Had he been asleep the entire time? Impossible, and yet there he lay, slumbering on as if the entire episode had never occurred. She might doubt it herself except for the evidence, her lips bruised and swollen, well kissed. She touched a pair of trembling fingers to them.
Shell-shocked, she stumbled to her feet and nearly tripped over the coffee table.
Body aching with unanswered desire, she wondered who it was he’d imagined he was kissing. Dear Lord, if he’d truly been asleep, it could have been any woman.
Appalled by the possibilities, she turned and fled to her bedroom.
James woke groggy and disoriented, the light from a single lamp shining in his face.
He squinted against the glare and sat up, taking a moment to realize where he was.
On Ivy’s couch. In Ivy’s apartment.
He blinked and scrubbed a hand over his face.
Whew, he’d really dropped off.
The last thing he remembered was watching Cary Grant kiss Grace Kelly while fireworks exploded behind them. Then he’d been, as the saying went, out for the count.
Ivy wasn’t there, and except for the dim lamplight, the apartment was dark.
Obviously, she’d gone to bed. He couldn’t blame her for not waiting up.
What time was it anyway? he wondered.
A quick check of his watch showed him it was late—or really early, depending upon your way of thinking.
It was 3:42 a.m. Way past time to go home.
He raised a hand to cover a yawn.
It wasn’t like him to be so rude, falling asleep on his hostess’s sofa in the middle of the evening’s entertainment.
But Ivy wouldn’t hold it against him. That was the great thing about her. She was a comfortable person to be around, family in a way his own family had never been. If he’d had the bad manners to fall asleep on his mother’s sofa, he was sure she would have given him a hard rap on the head.
And how about that dream?
It sure had been a doozy, so vivid and clear it had almost seemed real.
He remembered the woman, her sweet scent, her vibrant touch. The way she’d bent across him, her lovely, gentle mouth pressed to his with delicate pressure. She’d made him yearn, carnal need raging to life inside him, her whispering kisses not nearly enough to satisfy.
In the dream, he remembered reaching up, pulling her closer to take more. And he had, exploring the silken depths of her mouth with eager thoroughness.
She’d kissed him back, giving herself to him utterly.
The sound and taste and touch of her had burrowed into his soul.
Ivy, he realized suddenly.
The woman had been Ivy.
Alarmed, he glanced down the darkened hallway that led to her bedroom as if she could hear his shameful thoughts. He shook his head, mortified.
He scraped a hand through his hair.
Jesus, what’s wrong with me lately?
As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was noticing the way she filled out a blouse and a pair of jeans these days, now he was having erotic dreams about her.
What was next?
Nothing, he assured himself harshly. Nothing is next.
He had to get out of here.
He sprang to his feet, and that’s when he noticed it.
The single golden hair stuck to his shirt. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have thought twice about it since his hair was blond. But as he plucked the strand off his clothing, he noticed the length.
It was long.
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