How Beauty Loved the Beast - By Jax Garren

Chapter One

Grant Barrett wrinkled his nose as he shoved the pretty little redhead down the hallway toward his office. She’d had the nerve to try sneaking into the chemical plant he supervised, probably to do some destructive mischief or thieving. Somehow she’d made it past the fence before attempting to tiptoe by the bench where he took his smoke break every day at five. He’d recognized her immediately and seized her. Petty crime was clearly not her forte.

The question remained whether apprehending Jolie Benoit, daughter of media baron Reginald Benoit, one of the world’s most powerful men, would be an annoyance...or a coup.

Jolie trembled, eyes darting fearfully about. Grant kept a firm hold on her elbow as he marched her down cement walkways deep into the inner reaches of the plant. She was a beautiful thing, just a few years into her twenties with a figure that was more than easy on the eyes.

He cleared his throat and pulled his gaze back up where it belonged. “A soft girl like you doesn’t belong in a harsh place like this. I recommend you leave the larceny to the more seasoned criminals in that rabble you’ve aligned with.” Though born into the good life, Jolie had deserted her family to dance in a burlesque company and hang out with anarchists. If Reginald was less of a pompous ass, Grant might feel sorry for him. But as Reginald was not merely an ass but a power-mongering bull, he didn’t feel the least twinge.

Jolie’s voice quivered as she asked, “Where are you taking me?”

He couldn’t help another glance at the red lace and lush curves revealed by the deep V of her blouse. Of all the things to wear for breaking and entering. “To my office, dear.” Where he would be alone with Reginald Benoit’s daughter.

Come to think of it, having her here was definitely a coup.

He unlocked and opened the door to his private sanctum in the heart of the plant and escorted her inside. “Sit.”

She rubbed nervous hands on her jeans and sat in one of the plush chairs by his desk, head bowed as she peered about the room like a trapped rabbit. But there were no exits, other than the one he stood in front of.

“Don’t think about trying something. We’ve passed enough locks even that scarred brute hiding from the law with you people couldn’t get in here.”

Her head jerked up with more force than he expected from her demeanor. “A couple of locks wouldn’t stop Hauk from finding me.”

Was that pride in her voice? Grant crossed his arms and frowned. “A beast who murdered seven of his fellow soldiers before going AWOL and joining up with anarchists? I don’t think loyalty is his strong suit.” Although rumor had it the felon had taken a particular interest in the redhead. Not that Grant could blame him. As far as Jolie had fallen, though, it still surprised him that she might reciprocate the feeling. Burned from head to foot in a fire of his own causing, ex-Staff Sergeant Wesley Haukon was not only vicious but frighteningly hideous.

Her gaze sank to the floor, and she shifted uncomfortably. Ah. Her words were nothing but bluster. He should’ve known.

She meekly submitted to a pat-down, a not altogether unpleasant experience on his part. Her pockets held a phone, a tube of lipstick and a set of car keys. The girl had tried to break into his plant without a single weapon. He set her belongings on his desk and turned back to her.

“What are you going to do with me?” Big green eyes peered up at him, pleading, and he couldn’t quite tamp the surge of lust her utter helplessness inspired.

He leaned his hip against the arm of his chair and shoved his hands into his pockets, determined to think, not feel. She posed a reasonable question. He couldn’t hang on to her indefinitely; he needed a plan.

Jolie clenched her fists, ice-blue chipped nails digging into the soft flesh of her palms. She visibly gathered her courage, trying to appear oh-so-brave as her eyes ventured to his then hastened away. Her voice nearly choked as she said, “My father—”

He raised an eyebrow, and she stopped, clearly understanding who was in control here. “Your father doesn’t know you’re here. Yet. He and I have differences of opinion on how a few things in The Order should be run. And then you showed up on my turf. All alone.”

The Order of Ananke, a philanthropy both he and

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