Home > Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys #4)(6)

Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys #4)(6)
Author: Marie Harte


   She wanted to look him back in the eye, to mouth something smart. She’d say, “So, Lou,” and just pause the way he had. Except Manager Joey had left the building, and girlie, stupid, shy Joey took her place. She felt tongue-tied. Crap.

   A regular customer, a person she talked to without fear of complication, and she had no problem conversing. The moment she felt that something intimate, that spark of desire for a man or a relationship, she turned shy. It was so weird and totally unlike the real Joey. And also a telling sign of whom she should steer clear of.

   She blew out a breath, grabbed his flowers, then held them out to him, looking at him from under her lashes. Determined to be pleasant and get him out of the shop before she made a fool of herself, she forced a polite smile. “Here you go.”

   He took the flowers, his thumb grazing hers before she pulled away. “Hmm.”

   The heat from his hand sparked. She’d swear she felt the tingle in her toes. “Wh-what?”

   “You’re shy, aren’t you?” He sounded amused.

   “You have your flowers. Can you please just go?” Great. And now she was rude.

   He laughed. “Not that shy. Easy, Joey. I’m leaving. I just wanted to thank you again for this.” He nodded to the bouquet. “And for not charging me extra.”

   Oh man. He’d noticed.

   She glanced at his face again and saw his satisfied smile. And something deep inside her woke, responding to the warmth in his expression.

   In that deep voice that made her want to step out of her panties without being asked, he said, “Let me ask you something, then I’ll go.”

   “What?” How to tell him no to a date and sound like she meant it…

   “Do I scare you?”

   She hadn’t expected that. She stared up at him. “Huh?”

   “Do you think I might hurt you?” he asked softly.

   “No. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I don’t know you.”

   He cocked his head in study. “So if it’s not that you’re scared of me, maybe it’s that I came on too strong?”

   “You did?”

   “Not that either. Hmm.” He glanced at her hands on the countertop. “You married? Seeing someone?”

   “No.” Shoot. The smart thing would have been to say yes. “You know, technically we’re closed. Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

   “Tell you what. I’ll go. But how about we meet for a cup of coffee tomorrow at noon? I’ll even throw in something to eat if you want. Just as a way to say thank you for being so nice.”

   “It’s no trouble. Don’t worry about it.” Her palms felt sweaty. Sudden images flooded her mind’s eye of them doing things she had no business thinking about. She felt her cheeks heat and looked down again. Man, she had gone too long without a date if she could get that hot and bothered off a few fantasies.

   “I do worry about it. A Cortez always pays his debts,” he said quietly, serious. “Joey, I’m not into harassing women. I’ve never had a problem getting a date.” She could well believe that. “I just want a chance to get to know you and for you to get to know me. It’s that simple.”

   She looked up again, only to see that dimple back in play, those eyes so liquid, so pretty. “If I say yes, will you stop bugging me and go home?”

   From shy to too blunt. It was like she had a mental deficiency that only appeared around good-looking men, and this one in particular.

   Lou laughed. “Yeah. Sure.”

   “Fine. Okay.” What? No. Yet her mouth didn’t seem to be conferring with her brain before spouting random words.

   “Perfect. How about Nichols Caffè Bar next to the garage? Will NCB work?”

   “Oh. I love their bear claws.” Stop talking!

   “I’ll make sure to grab one for you.”

   Unable to say anything else without coming across as a complete fool, she looked beyond him to the door.

   He chuckled, took his flowers, and paused at the doorway, not looking back at her. Over his shoulder, he said, “You have my number if you want to back out. I only want a chance to get to know you, but I’m okay with the word ‘no.’ You don’t show for coffee, I won’t bug you again. But I hope I see you tomorrow, princesa.”

   She watched him leave, her gaze drawn to that amazing ass until the door closed behind him. Food and a handsome man to watch while she ate.

   What the hell was she thinking?

   No. No. No.

   After closing up the shop, she drove home in a daze. Joey hadn’t been on a date in months, the last guy a two-dinner wonder before she couldn’t take his small talk and überpoliteness anymore. Though she hadn’t been shy with Jim, she hadn’t been that attracted to him either. And before him, Adam had been the same. Predictably boring. What was wrong with her that only assholey, strong men flipped her switch? With them, she turned shy, flirty, lusty.

   God, lusty. She missed sex so much—but only with a powerful man.

   She was smart enough to steer clear of abusive jerks. Intelligent, savvy, worldly at the young age of twenty-four because she’d had to be, Joey had a brain she used daily. Well, maybe not tonight, saying yes to Lou Cortez.

   Desiring a man so far out of her league, one who was clearly older and who might as well have trouble tattooed on his forehead, should have warned her off. God, he’d had her feeling nervous, excited, and aroused in the same breath. That turbulent feeling she got when in the presence of a man she knew would be bad for her. Oh, so bad.

   She shivered. Apparently she hadn’t learned that much after all. Because she’d said yes to coffee. He’d even given her an out, told her she had only to call and beg off and he wouldn’t bother her again. A man who made her want, who made her feel things—not just physically but emotionally as well—and, yes, scared her, would go away if she asked him to.

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