Some promises were just made to be broken…
Don’t go there. The stylish, toffee-skinned beauty with the flat tire looks like the kind of uppity city girl L.J. Saunders has sworn to stay away from–even if she does have sass, smarts and legs to rival any Las Vegas showgirl. But L.J. was brought up right, and no gentleman would leave a lady stranded…
Look but don’t touch. Autumn Nicholson has made some promises, too. No flings until she’s sure it’s the real thing–especially not with a luscious, hard-muscled hunk who’ll be leaving D.C. in a matter of weeks.
But when fate, well-meaning friends and a sizzling, sensual attraction intervene, L.J. and Autumn may be in for a change of plans!
Autumn was punching in the 1-800- number for Road Side Assistance when the crunch of tires on gravel reached her ears. She peeped out the back window just in time to see a dark-skinned man step down from a dilapidated truck. The battered vehicle looked like it had been submerged in a pool of mud. The colour, and make were unrecognizable and although Autumn tried, she couldn’t decipher a single licence plate number. The stranger wore an Atlanta Braves baseball cap, a white t-shirt soiled in dirt and equally filthy nylon shorts. He had a slightly crooked nose, which added to his mysterious aurora, a faint moustache and a powerfully built body. He had the muscled shoulders and the defined legs of a track star.
He’s attractive in a handy-man sort of way, Autumn decided, eyeing him warily. She gripped her cell phone in one hand, and her car keys in the other. The man could be a serial killer for all she knew. Sure, he looked normal, but most serial killers did. Poised to dial 911 if the man made any sudden moves, she took baby steps towards the grimy-looking stranger.
Behind the veil of his grey Ray Ban sunglasses, L.J. checked out the smartly dressed woman moving cautiously towards him. Her white, fitted blazer and knee-grazing skirt were conservative, but the high-heeled, pointy- toed shoes were anything but. She moved towards him with a wealth of confidence and grace. L.J.’s eyes skimmed over her frame appreciatively. The woman had a pear-shaped figure and a perfect pair of legs. He had always been drawn to women with simple elegance and she was it. Her skin was the colour of lush, brown soil, her eyes of a much lighter shade.
“What seems to be the problem, Miss?” he asked, his voice coffee-rich.
Autumn’s shoulders tensed. He had a faint southern accent and gave a slight nod when he stopped in front of her, but that didn’t count for much. Psychos, rapists and serial killers could be polite too. What if he tried to assault her? Or snatched her necklace? With few options, and no help on the way, there was little Autumn could do. She was stranded and unless she was willing to hitchhike, which she wasn’t, he was all she had. Besides, she was on a traffic-congested road. If anything happened, she could easily flag down a car. Positive she was in no real danger, Autumn conquered her thoughts. She smiled at the stranger. In an attempt to calm her nerves, she joked, “I have a flat tire and I don’t know how to fix it because when my father was trying to teach me, I was too busy inspecting my manicure.”
He chuckled, revealing a slim dimple in his chin. “Well, do you have a spare, Miss Manicure?”
“I think so, Mr. Mechanic.” Much to Autumn’s surprise, he burst into a hearty, laugh. She joined in. Clicking open the trunk and stepping aside, she said, “Hopefully it’s in there somewhere.”
Autumn watched him dig around in the trunk like he was playing in a treasure chest. She stared at his hands. It was hard not to. They were filthy. Her mother’s voice echoed in her ears, You can tell a lot about a man by how he carries himself. Check out everything. His walk. His posture. Even his fingernails. Taking her mother’s advice, Autumn surveyed the man before her. His thin, ashy fingers were covered in nicks and cuts, a faint burn mark was in the middle of his left hand and dirt was lodged beneath chipped fingernails. Mud marred his jaw line, but it was his wretched body odour that made Autumn’s stomach jolt. Mr. Mechanic was in dire need of a shower and the strongest deodorant money could buy. For a half-minute Autumn thought of reaching into the trunk for the Glade air freshener and slinging it around his neck. The smell was that bad. When the stranger tossed her a backward glance and caught her eyeballing him, Autumn buried her eyes in the trunk and pretended to be aiding in the search.
“Here we go.” L.J. pulled out a full-sized tire, a steel jack and rested them against the bumper. “Can you close the trunk?”
Autumn did. Then, looked on as the muscle-bound stranger wheeled the tire with one hand and carried the jack with the other. She watched with keen interest as he jacked up the car, and removed what was left of the tire without breaking a sweat. The sun beat down on them with no mercy, causing Autumn’s anxiety to elevate with each passing second. Sweat trickled down her back, and her clothes were sticking to her body. The moisture between her thighs made Autumn long for an ice-cold shower. She swept a hand across her forehead, grabbed the roadside assistance brochure from off the passenger seat, and fanned wildly.
“You picked a prime time to get a flat,” he said, as the blare of beeping horns rained down on them. Their cars were safely off the road, but heavy-footed drivers were forced to slow down as they approached the scene.
“I know and it doesn’t help that it’s the hottest day of April, either. I’m roasting out here.” Her stomach let loose a monstrous grumble. Autumn patted her stomach. She had more problems than she knew what to do with.
L.J. glanced up, just in time to see her unbutton her blazer and fling it into the backseat. The sight of her alabaster lace camisole aroused thoughts of its softness under his fingers. He wondered if her toffee-brown skin was as smooth as it looked. She plucked her camisole, lifted her mid-back length braids off her back and rolled her head forward. The mindless act left L.J. grasping for air. He gulped down his desire as he rubbed the palm of his hand across his forehead. I must be getting really desperate to be lusting after marooned women L.J. thought, giving his head a good shake. But the sight of trim, shapely legs crossing just inches from his face seconds later, made his mind wander down the road of explicitly once again. He was definitely a legman and this woman had a pair that could rival any Las Vegas showgirl. He was so caught up in his appraisal of her physique that he didn’t feel the wrench slip from his hands. The clatter, snapped L.J. back into the here and now. Smiling away his embarrassment, he retrieved the wrench from the blistering pavement and went back to work.