One will break his heart. The other—heal it #UnlikelyAllies #Giveaway

Title: Unlikely Allies
Author: C.C. Koen 
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 13, 2015
What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t?
Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Needing to escape his threats and the scrutiny of the people in her hometown, Maggie relocates to New York City. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, her daughter, Cecily, doesn’t like to follow them. When Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Can she resist him or will she succumb to his willful charm?
Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Running a multibillion dollar business doesn’t leave him with much time to do anything else, particularly with an overbearing grandfather breathing down his neck. But when a man works hard, he needs to play even harder. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one.
Two auburn beauties stumble into his life.
One will break his heart.
The other—heal it.
Will he love or leave them?

“This place is packed. Why’d you pick it?”
Lodged in her brain for several weeks now, Mr. Stone’s guttural tenor replayed in her daydreams and in her sleep. She inched around performing a mental countdown from ten to zero, which helped cool her off when Cece pushed her buttons, and by some miracle she hoped would work in this instance too.
A steel gray oxford, no tie, and slim-fit pants with the same sheen as his button-down vest produced an unnatural reaction. Her tongue rolled to the roof of her mouth and withheld the groan his arousing professional attire and fresh-air scent planted in her head.
“Uh…” Mr. Stone narrowed his eyes at Matt and clamped a hand on his shoulder. His flushed face resembled the cherry red that often tinted joggers’ cheeks. “Buddy, you didn’t tell me Maggie would be here. Thought you said this was a business lunch.” He waved a folder and tossed it on the table.
Matt’s grin flashed toward her and then to his friend. “You do realize she’s cooking, right?”
Just then Mr. Stone’s gaze drifted across her chest, becoming transfixed for a while on the crisscrossed fork, spoon, and knife emblem at her left breast and then darted up to her face. If possible, his skin reddened even more as he dropped onto the wooden stool, an impact that scraped the chair back a few inches, rocking him into Matt’s shoulder.
“Let’s order. I’m starved.” An elbow shot given to his buddy, Matt knocked Mr. Stone’s bent arm off the edge of the table and pointed to the menu. “Pick something, fast. I need to get to dessert before it’s all gone.”
Using a similar mocking tone like Matt had earlier, Mr. Stone scanned the room while he spoke. “You realize we’re in a restaurant that has loads of food.”
She got a chuckle out of the amusing banter. Normally, she and Kat rubbed each other the wrong way. It was good to see the ribbing happening to someone else for a change.
“No, smart ass. Maggie’s extra special, sweet treat. There’s a limited amount.”
The menu forgotten and dropped onto the table, Mr. Stone set his chin in his hand and repositioned his arm where it had been before Matt knocked it down. In a seductive murmur he asked, “What sinful goodies do you have for me, Maggie?” Extended across the counter, his hand cupped hers from underneath and gripped it like a beggar pleading for anything and everything she could give.
“Cece, Cece, where are you?”
They both turned toward the door.
An adult version of the pint-sized girl appeared in the doorway. This variation, though, had hair on the cherry side of auburn with twists of milk chocolate streaming through the strands.  A messy ponytail slung high on top of her head, and thick, curly waves fell over her shoulder, instead of bright, reddish-orange pigtails like Cece’s.
“Cece, come here.” The woman’s stern tone communicated there better not be any arguments. Cece marched across the room. “My daughter shouldn’t have run off. I’m sorry if she disturbed you.”
A company logo and name written in gold script in a circular pattern above her left breast caught his attention: Westlake Security Services. His best friend, Matt, owned the firm adjacent to his office. She’d have to pass his suite to get there, yet he’d never seen her before. He inspected her uniform, a gray polo shirt and black slacks. An outfit he’d seen many times before, but it never looked that good on anyone else. The fabric, tucked in at her waist, had a cut that hugged her handful-sized breasts, and slim pants accentuated her curvy hips.
He lifted his gaze and found the woman ushering Cece out the door. “Wait.”
Cece turned, beaming a huge smile at him. “I would a told ya bye.” And just as fast, her little face morphed from happy to perturbed, aimed at her mother, and with her arms crossed, Cece shook her head.
Without missing a beat, and as smooth as his mother would have, the woman redirected Cece. “Say good night to Mr.…”
“Stone, Rick Stone.”
She set a hand on Cece’s shoulder, nudging her and casting a do-what-your-mother-says stare. “I have to get back to work. Say goodbye to Mr. Stone."
“What’s your name?” He couldn’t let her get away that fast.
“Maggie.”
“Margareta Cassidy Tyson,” Cece shouted with emphasis, a pause between each distinction. “My mama works here.” She pointed toward the hall. “She plays on a phone and ʼputer. It got lotsa buttons.” She shook her head, pigtails flinging back and forth over one shoulder then the other, followed by an overdrawn sigh. “She don’t let me push ʼem. Don’t ya think I should get to push ʼem? He let me push his.” Cece looked up at her mother and shot her arm toward him, her shrugging shoulders communicating, “See, everybody can do it. No big deal.”
Rick chuckled and then stopped when Maggie spun around, hands set on her hips. He rubbed his palm along the back of his neck and shifted from one foot to the other as an uncomfortable silence engulfed the room. “Let me explain.”
Rick waved to Paul, the evening security guard, and exited the office building. Another midnight departure. It wasn’t that Rick noticed the time anymore; a fifteen-hour work day was common for him. Tonight though, he left with each task on his to-do list accomplished.
Dead tired, he focused on the parking garage across the street. At the walking signal, he jogged to the other side. Two huddled bodies in the bus stop enclosure captured his attention. “What are you doing?” He rushed toward them, stopping at the edge of the bench.
Maggie jolted and glowered at him. “You scared me half to death. I’m waiting for the bus.”
Was she out of her mind? “It’s not safe. You can’t even defend yourself. Not with a sleeping girl in your arms.”
Maggie rested her cheek on top of Cece’s. “I don’t have a choice.”
“You could have caught a cab.”
She tilted her chin up, shot him an agitated brow, and buried her face against Cece’s. “It’s far. It would’ve been too expensive.”
“I’ll drive you. Where do you live?”
“No,” she whispered.
“It wasn’t a choice, Maggie.” He leaned down to scoop Cece into his arms, but Maggie put her hand up, stopping him.
“Don’t.” She stared, unrelenting, and her back scooted into the corner of the booth. Her tight, squared shoulders were on full alert. “How do I know you aren’t some lunatic?”
He wanted to laugh, he really did, but her honest reaction shouldn’t have surprised him. Used to getting his way, he hadn’t thought twice or considered she’d protest the offer. His mouth pulled into a frown as he considered his intimidating stance towering over her. He backed up a few steps, raising his hands. Unwilling to relent, he scrolled through his cell, pressed a few buttons, and when he got an answer, he kept his focus on her. “I need you to vouch for me.” His best friend’s laughter on the other end ticked him off, but he wouldn’t rest until he had his way. “Mention I’m a good guy.” Then he eased closer to Maggie, his hand extended, urging her to accept a concession he wasn’t used to making.
Her eyes flicked from him to the phone and back a few times. He wasn’t sure if the blank look on her face meant she believed him or she’d scream for help. Several tense seconds later, she plucked the cell from his hands, her fingertips clipped to the top and nowhere near close to touching him. “Hello.” Her quiet, reserved whisper revealed hesitancy, but her intense observation demonstrated she wouldn’t surrender easily. “Maggie Tyson.” After a brief pause she answered with a relieved and happy bounce in her voice, “Oh, Matt, hey.” She listened and nodded, her lips curled into a quirky smile and disappeared before he could appreciate it. “Yeah. Uh, huh. Will do, bye.”
After he tucked the phone in his suit pocket, his hand clenched it over and over, waiting for her to say something, anything. Tired of the long silence and her scrutinizing inspection of his eyes, nose, mouth, and grinding jaw, he rocked back and forth on his heels for the second time. “Well?”
C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.
     
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