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Make Me Stay

Jaci Burton

  Copyright (c) 2015 Jaci Burton

  Excerpt from Unexpected Rush copyright (c) 2016 Jaci Burton Excerpt from Don't Let Go copyright (c) 2016 Jaci Burton Cover image (c) Masterfile

  Author photograph by Steve Ervin The right of Jaci Burton to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  First published in this Ebook edition in 2015



  Published by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  A Penguin Random House Company.

  Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

  All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library eISBN 978 1 4722 2816 1


  An Hachette UK Company

  Carmelite House

  50 Victoria Embankment

  London EC4Y 0DZ

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  About the Author

  Praise for Jaci Burton

  By Jaci Burton

  About the Book


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Excerpt from Unexpected Rush

  Sneak peek of Don't Let Go

  Did you miss the previous Hope novels?

  Have you followed Jaci Burton's Play-by-Play?

  Find out more about Headline Eternal

  About the Author

  Jaci Burton is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Oklahoma with her husband and dogs. She has three grown children, who are all scattered around the country having lives of their own. A lover of sports, Jaci can often tell what season it is by what sport is being played. She watches entirely too much television, including an unhealthy amount of reality TV. When she isn't on deadline, Jaci can be found at her local casino, trying to become a millionaire (so far, no luck). She's a total romantic and loves a story with a happily ever after, which you'll find in all her books.

  Find the latest news on Jaci's books at, and connect with her online at or via Twitter @jaciburton.

  Praise for Jaci Burton:

  'A stalwart in the romance genre' USA Today

  'It's the perfect combination of heat and romance that makes this series a must-read' Heroes and Heartbreakers

  'Strong characters, an exhilarating plot, and scorching sex . . . You'll be drawn so fully into her characters' world that you won't want to return to your own' Romantic Times

  'A beautiful romance that is smooth as silk . . . leaves us begging for more' Joyfully Reviewed

  'A strong plot, complex characters, sexy athletes, and non-stop passion make this book a must-read' Fresh Fiction

  'Hot, hot, hot! . . . Romance at its best! Highly recommended!' Coffee Table Reviews

  '[She] has a way of writing intense scenes that are both sensual and raw . . . Plenty of romance, sexy men, hot steamy loving, and humor' Smexy Books Romance Reviews

  'A wonderful contemporary erotic romance!' The Romance Dish

  'Spy the name Jaci Burton on the spine of a novel, and you're guaranteed not just a sexy, get-the-body-humming read, but also one that melds the sensual with the all-important building of intimacy and relational dynamics between partners' Romance: B(u)y the Book

  By Jaci Burton

  Hope Series

  Hope Flames

  Hope Smoulders (e-novella) Hope Ignites

  Hope Burns

  Love After All

  Make Me Stay

  Don't Let Go

  Play-by-Play Series

  The Perfect Play

  Changing The Game

  Taking A Shot

  Playing To Win

  Thrown By A Curve

  One Sweet Ride

  Holiday Games (e-novella) Melting The Ice

  Straddling The Line

  Holiday On Ice (e-novella) Quarterback Draw

  All Wound Up

  Unexpected Rush

  About the Book

  Sometimes love has a plan all of its own . . .

  Only the challenge of renovating a historic building could persuade architect Reid McCormack to return to his hometown of Hope. And once the job is finished, he's heading right back to Boston . . . no matter how drawn he is to beautiful florist Samantha Reasor.

  Samantha watches over her elderly grandmother and pours a piece of herself into every floral creation she designs. However sexy she finds Reid, she's resisting acting on her crush. Samantha's not in the market for a temporary fling - she wants something real, permanent . . . and forever.

  With such different outlooks, how can these two possibly work? Yet as their attraction grows deeper, Samantha and Reid realise that maybe love is the one thing they can build a future on.

  Want more gorgeously romantic love stories? Don't miss the rest of this steamy series which began with Hope Flames. And check out Jaci's sexy sporting romance series, beginning with The Perfect Play.


  To Lillie: Thanks for letting me borrow Not My Dog.

  To Shannon Stacey, Kati Brown, and especially my editor, Kate Seaver: Thank you so much for the help with the back cover copy. You were all my saviors on this one.

  Chapter 1

  REID MCCORMACK STOOD in the middle of the main floor of the old mercantile in downtown Hope, his boots kicking around years' worth of dust and debris. The ceiling was collapsing, the original wood floor had seen years of use, and some of the floorboards were worn down to holes. He'd already been to the second and third floor to check things out. The original staircase leading to the second floor should probably be condemned. Plumbing was shit, electrical was shot, and the list of crap items he ticked off in his head should be giving him nightmares.

  But Reid had a vision of what this place could be--of what it once had been. As an architect, he built from new--he'd never done work on anything historical. He was an architect, but he was also a licensed contractor. He'd done renovation work here and there, but nothing of this scope.

  As he studied the blueprints for the old mercantile he'd agreed to renovate, he still had no idea what he was doing back in his hometown, or why he'd agreed to this job.

  It was a big p
roject, and he had plenty of projects with his company in Boston. Shifting responsibilities over had been a giant pain in the ass, as was taking a leave of absence and putting his company--his baby--in the hands of his associates. He'd sweated blood and risked a hell of a lot of money to get his architectural firm up and running, and with numerous late nights and damn good work, he'd made a success of McCormack Architectural Designs.

  The thought of not being in Boston overseeing the business sent a shot of nervousness straight to his gut. But, he'd had to admit, when he'd come back home for his brother Logan's wedding in the spring and they'd taken a look at this old place, it had been childhood memories, plus the challenge of restoring the mercantile to its former glory, that had been too much to resist.

  This was his chance to do something out of the ordinary.

  He had ideas for the mercantile. A lot of them. And now that he and his brothers had bought the old building back from the town, it was their responsibility to do right by it.

  He intended to do it justice.

  And when the job was done he'd head back to Boston, where he belonged.

  He heard a knock on the front door, dissipating the cloud of memories.

  Figuring it was the general contractor he'd hired--or maybe his brothers, who were also supposed to meet him here today--he went to the door and pulled it open.

  It wasn't the contractor or his brothers. It was Samantha Reasor, the owner of the flower shop around the corner. Sam was the one who'd pushed hard for them to take on this project. Or rather, for him to take it on. She was as passionate about the mercantile as anyone in Hope.

  Today she wore dark skinny jeans that showcased her slender frame. Her blond hair was pulled high on top of her head, and she had on a short-sleeved polo shirt that bore the name Reasor's Flower Shop. And she had the prettiest damn smile he'd ever seen, with full lips painted a kissable shade of pink.

  Not that he was thinking about kissing her or anything. He was back in Hope to work.

  "Hi, Reid. I heard you were in town and getting ready to start the project. I couldn't wait to get inside here again. I hope I'm not bothering you. If I am, I can take off."

  "Hey, Sam. You're not a bother. Come on in. Though the place is still as dusty as it was when we did the walk-through in the spring. Are you sure you want to get dirty?"

  She waved her hand as she stepped in. "I don't mind. I've been snipping and arranging flower baskets all day for an event. There are probably leaves in my hair."

  As she walked by, he inhaled the fresh scent of--what was that? Freesia? Roses? Hell if he knew, since he didn't know jack about flowers. He only knew that Sam smelled damn good. And there were no leaves in her hair.

  She turned in a circle, surveying both up and down the main room. "It's amazing, isn't it?"

  He laughed. "Right now it's a dump."

  Her gaze settled on him. "Oh, come on. Surely you can see beyond the trash and the layers of dust to what it can be. Do you have ideas yet? I mean, of course you do, because you're here to tear down and build up, so you have all the ideas, right?" She spied the rolled-up documents in his hand. "Do you have blueprints?"


  "Care to share? I'd love to see the plans you've worked up."

  "Actually, the general contractor is due to show up here shortly, along with Luke and Logan. You're welcome to hang out while we go over them."

  She pulled her phone out of her back pocket. "Unfortunately, I can't. I have a delivery to make in about thirty minutes. But I'd really like to see the blueprints."

  "Some other time, then."

  Her eyes lit up. "Oh, I know. Are you busy for dinner tonight?"

  "Uh, dinner?"

  "Sure. Why don't you come over to my place? I make a mean plate of spaghetti. If you're not busy with your family. I know you'd like to get reacquainted with them, so I don't want to step all over that."

  "No, it's not that. I've been here a couple days already, so we've done the reacquainting stuff." He didn't know what the hell was going on. Was she asking him out, or was she just interested in seeing the blueprints?

  "Perfect. Give me your phone and I'll put my address and cell number in it."

  He handed his phone over and Sam typed in her info.

  "Is seven okay? That'll give me time to close up the shop and get things going."


  "Great." She grasped his arm. "I'm so glad you're here, Reid. I'll see you later. You and your blueprints."

  She breezed out of the mercantile and he found himself staring at the closed door, wondering what the hell had just happened.

  Sam probably just wanted to get a good look at the blueprints when they'd have more time. She was interested in the old building. Not in him.

  And he wasn't interested in her. Or in any woman. He was in town to refurbish the mercantile, and nothing more.

  But, whatever. He liked spaghetti. So he'd see Sam, she'd see the blueprints, and that would be it.

  SAM WENT BACK to the shop, wishing she'd had more time to check out Reid--check out the blueprints. Not that Reid wasn't some awesome eye candy. Today he'd worn loose jeans, boots, and a short-sleeved T-shirt that showed off his tanned, well-muscled arms.

  It had taken everything in her to walk out of the mercantile. Fortunately, she had a job and a timeline, and that always came first. She loaded up the flowers that Georgia Burnett had ordered for the Chamber of Commerce luncheon today, put them in her van, and drove them over to the offices. Georgia, who'd had a terrible fall last year and had spent several months laid up, was back to her old cheery, mobile self again. And since she was the mother of two of Sam's friends, Emma and Molly, Georgia was like a mother to Sam as well. Which was so nice, since the only family Sam had left was her Grammy Claire.

  And family was a big deal to Sam.

  She pushed through the doors of the offices, her arms filled with bouquets. Georgia was right there at the front desk waiting for her, looking slim and gorgeous as always.

  "Hello, Georgia, how are you?"

  "Doing wonderfully, Samantha. And you?"

  "Great." She pressed a kiss to Georgia's cheek while simultaneously juggling two baskets of flowers.

  "The baskets are gorgeous, honey," Georgia said. "The tables are already set up inside, so you can place them in the center of each one."

  "Will do."

  Sam went about her business, and once she finished, she said good-bye to Georgia and headed back to the shop. She still had several individual flower orders to prepare and deliver, which took up the remainder of her day.

  Which suited her just fine. Busy was good for business, and business had been great lately. She had two weddings coming up, including that of Georgia's daughter Molly next month.

  When her phone buzzed, she smiled. Speaking of the bride-to-be . . .

  "Hey, Molly," she said, putting her phone on speaker so she could continue to work.

  "Are you sure all the flowers we ordered are going to come in on time?" Molly asked.


  "In the right colors?"


  "And how about the lilies? Oh, and the corsages for my mom and for Carter's mom?"

  "All under control, honey."

  Molly paused. "I'm being a neurotic mess, aren't I?"

  "Nope. You're being a bride. This is normal."

  "I have a checklist of items, and then I came across flowers, and I know we've gone over this a hundred times, but you know, I just had to check."

  Sam was used to this. Brides called her all the time, even if everything was perfect. "Of course you had to check. Call anytime. But Molly? I've got this. Trust me."

  "I know you do. Honest, I really do. Oh, and Sam, thanks."

  "You're welcome. I'll talk to you soon." She hung up, figuring Molly would call her again tomorrow.

  Which didn't bother her at all, because as a florist, her job was to keep her customers happy. And when one of her customers was also one of her closest
friends, that counted double.

  She delivered the afternoon flowers, then came back to clean up the shop and prep things for tomorrow morning. By then it was closing time, and she made a quick grocery list so she could dash into the store and get what she needed for dinner tonight.

  She had no idea why she'd invited Reid over for dinner. First she had to go in and start blabbering at him like she had some kind of motormouth disease.

  Ugh. What was wrong with her, anyway? She was normally calm and in control of herself.

  Except around Reid, for some reason. Ever since that night at Logan and Des's wedding when she'd sat next to him, she'd felt an instant zap of attraction.

  And ever since that zap, she'd been ridiculously shy around him.

  Normally when a woman was shy, she'd be quiet, right?

  But not Samantha. No, she had run-of-the-mouth issues when she was around a man she was attracted to.

  So what did she do with Reid? She invited him to dinner. An impulse suggestion, sure, and only because she really wanted to see the blueprints. But was that really the only reason? When he'd been in town in the spring for the wedding, she'd definitely felt that tug of . . . something.

  He'd gone back to Boston soon after his brother's wedding, and she'd ignored the zap, figuring it had been nothing more than a passing mutual interest in the mercantile. But seeing him today, that zap had been something entirely different, and totally biological.

  She chewed on her bottom lip and decided to call her best friend, Megan, for some advice. She punched in Megan's number on her phone.

  "What's up, Sam?" Megan asked when she answered.

  "Reid McCormack is back in town."

  "I heard. So he's going to start work on the mercantile, right?"

  "Yes. I popped over there today when I saw him go in. And then I invited him to dinner."

  Megan paused. "That's interesting. Why?"

  Sam pulled up the stool behind the counter and took a seat. "I don't know. Impulse. And, you know, I got to talking to him. I might have overtalked."

  "You babbled."

  Leave it to her best friend to know her so well. "Yes, I babbled. I guess I babbled my way into a dinner invitation. We were chatting about the building and he had the blueprints, which I was really interested in, and I could tell he was busy, so it was an impulse thing."

  "Always go with your impulses, Sam. You're obviously attracted to him. Did he say yes?"

  "He did. And why do you think I'm attracted to him?"

  "Everyone saw the way the two of you were together when we all went to check out the mercantile in the spring."