Leaning over and fighting the temptation to kiss one more frog, I search for the last of my conviction and say again, “No. Really. Thanks. I’m going home now.” I’m tucking my bag under my arm, readying to leave, when a low rumble causes the tinted wall-to-wall windows to reverberate.
The doors burst open and a couple walks inside, soaking wet, the woman shaking her damp loose hair, laughing.
“Omigod!” I cry, my stomach plummeting when I realize it’s f**king raining.
I run to the door when a man grabs the handle with a black-gloved hand and gallantly pulls it open for me. I almost stumble outside, and he grips my elbow to steady me. “Easy,” he says in a rolling voice as he steadies me on my feet, and I blink desperately across the street at the light blue Mustang. All I have in my name. All I have to sell because I desperately need the money and who will want it now? It’s a convertible and a little old, but it’s as cute as it is unique, with white interior seats to match the tent top. But now it’s outside in this rain, with its top down, becoming my very own Titanic with wheels.
My entire life is sinking right with it.
“I assume by that sad puppy-dog look on your face that that’s your car,” the rolling voice says.
I helplessly nod and lift my eyes to the stranger. A flash of lightning cuts through the distance, illuminating his features.
And I can’t speak.
His eyes grab me and won’t let go. I stare into their depths while also registering that his face is stunning. Hard jaw, high cheekbones, strong forehead. His nose is classic, sleek, and elegant, and the lips beneath are full and curved, firm and . . . god, he’s edible. His dark hair flips playfully in the wind. He’s tall and broad shouldered and dressed in dark slacks and a dark turtleneck that makes him look both elegant and dangerous.
But his eyes.
They’re an indecipherable color, but it’s not the color, it’s the stare, the incredible shine. Framed with thick black lashes, his eyes shine as brilliant as the brightest lights I’ve ever seen. As they quietly assess my features in return, those narrowed eyes feel as powerful as X-rays, and they seem to be sparkling especially because I—me—have somehow done something to amuse this man, this . . . f**k, I have no name for him. Except Eros. Cupid himself. God of love. In the flesh.
I used to think Cupid used an arrow but I don’t feel as if I’ve been pierced by an arrow. I feel like I’ve been hit. By a rocket.
As I keep standing here, floored by the over six feet of total hotness before me, he grabs my keys from me with one gloved hand and puts his other free one on my hip to hold me in place. And I feel it. I feel the touch race down my hips, knotting in my stomach, pulsing in my sex, straight down my thighs, curling my toes. “Stay here,” he says into my ear, then he pulls up the collar of his turtleneck until it becomes a hood in the back, and he runs across the street.
I watch him head to where my car is getting soaked. The wind whips through the streets so hard, I have to use both hands to try to flatten my skirt so it doesn’t fly up to my middle.
“Put the top on!” I force myself to yell through the pounding rain, suddenly as determined as he is to save my car.
“Princess, I got this!” He leaps into the front seat, turns on the car, and the top starts coming up until it . . . doesn’t.
It gets stuck.
After a squeal of protest, the f**ker starts coming back down.
“ARGH, SHIT!” I hurry into the street and suddenly the drops of rain bombard me like little cannon balls, soaking me in a second. I swear I want to yell Fuck you! at them. My car, the one thing in my life that hasn’t been shit on, is being ruined and I want to scream.
“Are you kidding me? Get under the roof!” The guy leaps out and then pulls off his sweater in one quick jerk. He spreads the material over my head, using it to shield me from the rain while he herds me back to the small awning over the building entry.
“No! I’ll help you. My precious car!” I cry and push at his chest, trying to get him to back off, but he’s a head taller and built of steel.
“I’ve got your car,” he promises. He hands me his soaked turtleneck and adds, “Hold this,” before he runs back out.
He’s wearing a white crewneck undershirt, and it clings to his sculpted torso as he tries to manually override and pull the top of my car back in place.
Raindrops sluice down his bare arms, the soaked cotton of his shirt plastered down on his chest, revealing every muscle in existence. Fuck. He’s off-the-charts gorgeous; he just broke my Man Hotness Radar. I can’t take my eyes off every inch of his body or the way it moves.
Thunder shakes the city again when he finally latches the top of my car on and signals for me to come over. He opens my car door from the inside, and I hurry into the passenger seat and shut it behind me.
My cold, slick clothes cling against my skin while he sits behind the wheel, looking big and manly, and suddenly we’re ensconced in the small, almost cramped interior of my car. The seats are flooded with water, and when I shift to face him a little, I hear a squish that makes my cheeks burn in embarrassment.
“I can’t believe this,” I whisper. “My best friend tells me I’m the only idiot with a convertible in Seattle.”
His eyes are openly amused. “I dig your car.” He reaches out to the dashboard, and the hand he runs over it is covered in an elegant lambskin glove that makes my skin prick with goose bumps. He shifts his big torso in my direction with an irresistibly devastating grin. “Everything wet gets dry; don’t worry, princess.”
I can hardly take the way he says wet.
Or the way a raindrop clings to his dark eyelashes. Water sluices down his tanned, corded arms. His hair is slicked back, enhancing the beautiful face he has. I have seen works of art and beautiful men, beautiful buildings and beautiful rooms, but at this moment as he looks at me, I can’t remember ever seeing anything besides him.
He’s a ten. I’ve never, ever been with a ten. And the way that he looks at me . . . I’ve seen that look before. The look that Remington Tate gives Brooke. That look. He’s giving it to me and I’m dying inside. Can I die from one look? And if one look can kill me, then what would one touch do?
“So,” he says softly, his voice textured. He waits a little before speaking again, and it surprises me that he still only looks at my face, not my wet chest, not my bare legs—he’s looking at nothing but my eyes while absently stroking the circle of my steering wheel.
“Want to go somewhere with me?” he asks, then reaches out with his free wet black glove to brush my hair back behind my ear.
What I feel is so far beyond lust, I can hardly answer him.
I tremble. “Yes,” I say, dizzied with want.
He gives me a smile that sends my pulse racing, his hand lingering on my face for a second longer, then he shifts my car into gear and pulls us into the rainy streets. The air between us crackles in the silence.
The only audible sound outside is the rain and thunder. The inside of the car is dominated by his breathing. His breaths are deep and slow, but mine are fast and nervous.
He smells . . . like a wet forest. With a touch of leather. His eyes are on the road, but I’m only aware of him. The way his chest expands his wet T-shirt. His shadowed profile and how the city lights flicker across his face as we pass. His wet jeans clinging to his hard thighs. I think we both know we’re going to do it.
We’re going to have our hands all over each other in minutes, and the knowledge is causing havoc in my brain. I feel like some little sex gremlin in me has just emerged. I have a thing about man ni**les and his man ni**les are poking deliciously into his white T-shirt and his jeans are . . . god, his jeans are straining to the breaking point. He wants me. He wants to do me. This amazingly beautiful man who makes me cross-eyed with wanting.
“You always this quiet?” he asks me in a strangely thick voice, and I jerk my eyes to his face; that smile on his face really gets to me.
“I’m s-su-suppper-super c-ccold.”
He signals to a tall hotel that I know is expensive even to dine at, but he doesn’t seem to mind pulling into its driveway. “Seems the closest place where we can get dry.”
“Yes, it’s perfect,” I say, too eagerly.
I’m into perfect things, beautiful things, things that are lively and fun. My parents as a couple? Perfect. I’m usually picture perfect myself. But tonight? I slide a hand down my hair as we cross the lobby and I can’t imagine what I look like. Wet rat seems like a good bet. Why why why do I look like shit right now?
While he asks for room keys at the front desk, I examine his butt in his jeans, the fit of his clothes, and I can’t seem to quell the flutters.
As I squish my way into the elevator along with a bunch of other people, I rub my arms and try to stop my teeth from chattering. He smiles at me across a couple, and his smile lights a spark of mischief in me and I smile back.
I follow him into the room and then into the huge marble bathroom. He takes his turtleneck from my cramped hand and hangs it aside, then, without warning, he reaches one hand to his T-shirt and pulls it off with one yank that makes all his muscles ripple. “Take off your shoes,” he murmurs. I unclasp them and kick them aside.
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