Toxic by Debra Jupe

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  • Landscaper Gracie Desoto is too busy building her business to worry about her love life. Until she receives news her ex-husband is getting remarried, and she meets the enigmatic Ethan McCarthy. Despite the warning bells, Grace can’t deny her attraction to the much younger man.

    Ethan McCarthy is a man on the mission. His job keeps him on his toes, plus he’s dealing with personal issues he can’t figure out. He doesn’t have room in his life for a romance, until an encounter with the adorable Gracie changes his mind.

    In a whirlwind weekend of missing plants and a murder with Ethan as a possible suspect, Gracie is determined to solve the mystery and clear her man. Together, they head down a darkened path into an unknown where they may not survive.

    Is their love toxic, or is it worth the risk?


    “Doliver. He likes you.”

    “I’m sure he’s as charming as the over processed blonde you’ve spent most of the evening with. Where is your lovely date anyway?”

    “Don’t have a date. But it’s interesting you noticed.”

    She’d given away too much. “I didn’t, ahm…you were right in front of me. How could I not see you?”

    “Then you were making a casual observation.”

    “Exactly.” Relief swept through her. He didn’t seem to be engaged or otherwise. At least that’s what he was telling her, but on the other side of that coin, she’d tipped her hand. “I don’t understand the fuss—what’s it to you if he likes me?”

    Ethan’s smile broadened. “You’re a good customer. I’d hate for him to overstep any professional boundaries and lose your business.”

    “A model employee, that’s what you are. I’ll tell Mike to give you a raise.” She abruptly broke their connection. “Thank you for the dance. Now excuse me.” She whipped around on the slick floor. One leg slid in front of her, while the other slipped behind. She struggled to regain her poise and not perform the splits in front of the entire nursery industry.

    Rough hands glided over her bare arms to steady her. “You okay?”

    “I’m fine.” She didn’t bother to look in his direction as he set her back on her feet.

    “Might want to go easy on the margaritas.”

    She ignored his recommendation. Though grateful for stability, she wanted to get away from Ethan McCarthy pronto. She stood in mid-indignation not sure of her next move. Everyone seemed occupied, and she had no place to go. The bar caught her eye. The hell with his suggestion. Tonight the section of the restaurant was her only true friend.

    A large hand encircled her forearm. “Easy, Ms. D.” Ethan pulled her to him. “It’s an observation. I need to know the feelings weren’t mutual.”

    “Mutual feelings? With Reed? Why would you want to know that?”

    His lips curved. “’Cause, I prefer not to make a move if you’re otherwise involved.”

    “Make a move?”

    “I’m pretty sure you understand the concept, but in case you don’t.” He brushed his mouth against hers, then smiled. “Consider yourself hit on.”


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