She swore never to trust him again…
Fiery mechanic Alexandra Franco should have known better. Years ago, her best friends’ older brother took her virginity and broke her heart – or rather, doused it with gasoline, lit a match, and then walked away. And Alex definitely should not have indulged in another hot night with him after the fact. He’s not the same boy she fell for, and she sure as hell doesn’t want anything to do with the wealthy, ruthless man he’s become.
Walking away from Alex was the biggest mistake of Deacon West’s life. She belongs with him, and if getting her back means playing dirty, so be it. If she’ll grant him a three-month, no-strings affair, he won’t sell the building Alex and his sisters use for their auto repair business. Hell, he’ll even sign it over to them. But will Alex ever entrust her heart to him again, or are they destined to crash and burn?
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by Sherilee Gray
Copyright © 2015 by Sherilee Gray. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Alex Franco planted her ass on a chair that was about as comfortable as a slab of concrete—but no doubt cost more than every piece of furniture in her apartment combined—and pretended to inspect her fingernails. Every pair of eyes in the stylish reception area of West Enterprises had now shifted to her. She knew this because she could feel them like laser beams burning a hole into the top of her head.
Whatever. Wasn’t the first time, wouldn’t be the last.
She glanced down at her beaten-to-hell work boots and shifted her foot to cover the black grease mark she’d tracked into the carpet, then scowled for giving a shit.
Right then, she didn’t have it in her to feel bad for staining Deacon West’s very expensive carpet. Served the jackass right.
Drying her sweaty palms on the sides of her shorts, she sat back and crossed her arms. God, this was the last place she wanted to be right now. Fridays were busy at the garage. Three cars were booked in for this afternoon, a new record for them. She didn’t have time for this.
Another woman dressed in a pencil skirt and pumps walked in and parked it beside her buddy already sitting behind the oversize reception desk. Did they all dress the same on purpose? Or was it some weird, unspoken law?
The two of them immediately started whispering and giggling. Alex lifted her gaze, narrowing her eyes on the pair of Stepford wife clone-factory rejects. The bitches were looking at her like she was something from another goddamned planet.
She could only guess the reason security hadn’t shown up and dragged her out already was because they were hoping for a free show. And the only reason she was stuck out here cooling her heels, and not tearing Deacon a new one, was because the bastard had his office door locked.
She tightened her fingers around the letter in her hand. How could he do this to his sisters? Piper and Rusty loved their brother, trusted him. They’d be devastated if they knew what he was up to behind their backs. She didn’t want to believe he would sell their garage out from under them, but why else would he want the building valued? Alex had met the West girls when she was just ten years old. They’d quickly become best friends—her lifeline. This could tear them apart, could tear apart the business they’d been working so hard to keep afloat, to make a success. She couldn’t let that happen—she wouldn’t.
She shifted in her seat when another leggy blonde sauntered past and tried not to feel self-conscious. Not easy when her tank and cutoffs were grease stained and her hair was a mess.
God, she hadn’t thought this through, had let her temper get the better of her. Again. Maybe she should just get the hell out of here. Call the asshat instead to give him a piece of her mind. This really didn’t need to be done in person, right?
It had been six long months, but she realized, in that moment, she still wasn’t ready to see him.
Retreat! Regroup! Run like hell!
She stood and spun on the grubby soles of her boots, getting his carpet good and filthy before she bolted toward the elevators. She’d managed two steps when she heard the click of a door opening behind her.
Ah, shit. She took another retreating step.
“Stop right there.”
That familiar voice moved through her, the rough command hitting her low in the belly, lifting goose bumps on her bare arms.
There was no way she could run now and keep her dignity intact. Planting her hands on her hips, she took a deep breath and mentally prepared herself for the devastation that seeing Deacon again would bring.
Then spun around.
The oxygen rushed from her lungs. Yep, the guy was still as hot as he’d been six months ago. Maybe hotter, if that were possible. It was all still there in mouthwatering abundance. The broad shoulders. The long legs. The rugged good looks and piercing green eyes. That melt-your-panties dimple in his chin.
But what always got to her, the thing that made her chest tight and had the ability to make her forget what a giant asshole he’d become, was the overlong hair. It brushed the collar of his shirt, in need of a serious trim, too long, too casual for the man he was now. That hair belonged on the scruffy teen who’d worked in his father’s garage after school and on weekends. That hair did not belong on Mr. Businessman of the Year.
She let her gaze travel to the reason his office door had been locked in the middle of the day, the tall blonde dangling off his arm like a cheap handbag. Alex bit her lip when the familiar pain socked her in the chest.
Harden the hell up, Franco. What? You think he’s been a monk all these months?
The guy was rich and incredibly good-looking. He could screw whoever he liked, as often as he liked. And apparently during the day in his office wasn’t off-limits.
His gaze moved over her body, but his face gave nothing away. Her palms got sweaty again, and her heart started to pound harder.
“Well, this is a surprise. To what do I owe this rare pleasure?” She didn’t miss the hint of bitterness in his voice, because the bastard wasn’t trying to hide it.
The blonde hadn’t retracted her claws from his arm and looked Alex up and down like she was something the rodent-sized, froufrou dog she no doubt had at home had just dragged in.
“You know why I’m here, Deke. So cut the bullshit.” Gasps came from the receptionists, whose heads were so close together now they could pass as conjoined twins, and Deacon’s blonde narrowed her eyes like she wanted to scratch Alex’s eyes out of her head.
The blonde turned into him and smashed her impressive breasts into his side. “Who is this, Deacon? We’re supposed to be having lunch.” She batted what had to be false lashes and pouted her bee-stung pink lips like a blowup doll.
Alex snorted, couldn’t help herself. The woman was a walking, talking cliché.
Deacon tried to hide it, but she didn’t miss the way he tensed, or the way that muscle in his jaw jumped several times. He was clenching his teeth—he did that when he was annoyed, always had. She tried to shrug it off. So he was pissed she’d ruined his lunch date. Well, tough shit.
What did she expect? That the guy had woken up one day and boom, he was no longer a complete and utter asshole? That her feelings would have magically disappeared? If only life were that simple. Her feelings hadn’t diminished, not one tiny bit in all these years. She should have known better, should have left this for Piper or Rusty to sort out.
Deacon disentangled the woman from his arm and took a step back. “Apologies. We’ll have to make it another time, Candice.” And just like that he dismissed the handbag.
Candice’s lips thinned. “You have got to be kidding me?”
He pinned her with a look Alex had never seen before and thankfully had never been the recipient of. God, she almost felt sorry for her.