Fringe Benefits by Sandy James
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Danielle Bradshaw deserves a happily ever after, and the Ladies Who Lunch are determined to deliver Mr. Right.
HOT FOR TEACHER
As the new head of the English department, Dani doesn’t have much time for anything but lesson planning and literature. Romance-or even sex? Forget about it. But then the principal introduces her to last-minute hire Nate Ryan. Finding time to mentor a new teacher won’t be easy, especially when his incredible body and equally disarming charisma are enough to make her heart skip a beat . . .
Nate may be fresh out of school, but he’s confident in his teaching skills-and in his feelings for Dani. But while she’s everything he’s ever wanted, he knows his place on her staff-and his age-may be problematic for his sexy boss. How can he convince her to ignore the gossip mill currently in full swing in the teacher’s lounge and surrender to what’s meant to be?
He had a plan.
After Dani eased out of the jacket, she was about to toss it aside when Nate caught it. Moving quickly, he pulled the sleeves forward and tied them around her waist so her arms were pinned against her sides.
She glanced down at the restraint and then at him. “Nate?”
“Shhh.” He brushed his mouth over hers. “Let me play.”
A saucy smile formed on her lips. “So you like tying women up, do you?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it before.” He threw his legs over the sofa and stood up, scooping her into his arms to take her with him. Then he laid her down on the couch.
Her eyes were shining when she looked up at him. “Now have you got me where you want me?”
“Close, but not quite.” He sat on the edge of the cushion and framed her face before he settled a gentle kiss on her lips.
When she tried to deepen the kiss, he eased back. “Nate! C’mon. Kiss me.”
“In due time. First, you need another lesson in surrendering your control.”
“Why does that make it sound like you’ve got something planned?”
“Because I do.”
Her eyes widened. “You mean you planned to tie me up?”
Since he demanded nothing but honesty from her, Nate gave her the same. He reached under the couch and pulled out the necktie he’d left under there when he’d planned out what he could do to give Dani more tutoring. “I did. Planned to use this, but your wearing my jacket only made it easier.”
The cadence of her breathing increased. “Does that mean you’re finally ready to make love?”
He shrugged, a truthful reply since he wasn’t at all sure if he was going to be able to resist her too much longer, especially now that she was so vulnerable. By not telling her exactly how much he wanted to carry her upstairs, he was trying to show her that she could enjoy herself without plotting or planning each little move she made.
“When will you—”
He silenced her question with a kiss. It took three kisses for her to finally stop asking. Only then did he reach for the first button on her blouse.
Fully expecting her to fight what he was doing, he grinned when she simply arched an eyebrow.
He answered the tacit question by leaning in to press his lips against the skin he’d just bared. Damn if his hands weren’t shaking when he opened the next button.
She squirmed. “I want to touch you.”
After he shook his head, he kissed her soft skin. Inhaling deeply, he breathed in her sexy scent and closed his eyes, savoring the desire that flowed through his veins like molten lava.
His reply to her plea was to unfasten the next button, revealing the valley between her breasts, which he kissed and then licked.
“You’re killing me,” she said, her voice becoming a moan when he popped the next button open.
“Am I?” As he smoothed his fingers from her throat down her chest, he raised gooseflesh in his wake.
“Yes.” The word ended on a hiss when he grasped both of the open sides of her blouse and jerked them free of the tied jacket, baring her chest to him.
Nate buried his face in the swell of her breasts, trying hard to regain the self-control he almost lost. Seeing her in nothing but a lacy bra hit him harder than he’d thought possible. All he wanted to do was untie the jacket, rip off her shirt, and open the front clasp of her bra. His erection was as hard as rebar, and he feared he wouldn’t be able to leave her tonight, that the only end to the evening was with them in bed together.
But was it still too soon? This wasn’t about a short-term physical release; it was about getting past all of Dani’s defenses so she’d let him into her heart, not just her body.
He needed to get away from her while he still held tight to a thread of sanity.
Pressing another kiss against the silky skin between her breasts, he found the strength to pull back. One by one, he buttoned up her blouse, wondering at how ridiculous his life had become. He was dressing the woman he wanted instead of trying to get her out of her clothes. The last thing he did was untie the jacket.
Standing, Nate offered his hand to help Dani up. Unable to stop himself, he gathered her into his arms for one more kiss. When he tried to step back, she clung to him.
“I need to ask you something,” she said.
“I really should go.”
“Are we still going to the homecoming dance?”
She’d blurted the question out so quickly, he’d had a hard time understanding what she’d said.
“The homecoming dance? Of course.”
“You don’t have to wear a tux or anything…”
“Good thing since I don’t own one. Not even a good suit.”
“A dress shirt and tie would be fine.” She grabbed the tie he’d dropped on the coffee table and let it dangle from her fingers. “Maybe you could even bring a couple more for after the dance. I’m sure I could find a way to put them to good use.”
“You could?” His voice cracked like an adolescent when she pressed her palm against his chest.
“Absolutely. Have you ever seen my four-poster bed?”
Q: Romance readers have a lot of choices these days. What makes Fringe Benefits stand out in the crowd?
A: It’s full of laughter, tears, and love, and the characters are realistic.
Q: We like to include our favorite quote in our reviews of the books we read. What is your favorite quote from Fringe Benefits?
A: My favorite quote from Fringe Benefits is:
Her chuckle was warm and inviting—just like the woman herself. With no hesitation, she took the pencil back, made her mark, and handed it back. “That explains being a teacher. Babies of the family tend to make great teachers. Did you take any psych classes in college?”
The name rang a bell.
No, stupid. That was Pavlov.
About Sandy James
Sandy lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years and is a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses and enjoy spending time at the two Indiana racetracks.
She is published through Forever Yours, Carina Press, and BookStrand, as well as indie-published. She has been an Amazon #1 Bestseller multiple times and has won numerous awards including two HOLT Medallions.
Please visit her website at sandyjames.com for more information or find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as “sandyjamesbooks.”
Represented by Browne & Miller Literary.