By: Leslie Kelly

Viv almost retorted that she only wanted one to nudge his face between her thighs, but figured she’d shocked the other woman enough for one evening. “I can’t look for one now. I have to get a new job and straighten myself out before I can even think about letting any man near my heart.” Her vagina was a different matter, but she didn’t mention that, either.

“Neeley ought to be shot for making you feel that way. Or at least arrested for assault,” said Lulu.

She laughed bitterly. “Oh, that would go over well.”

Talk about bad publicity for the new team, and she wouldn’t do herself any favors in the long run. She needed to look toward the future, toward landing another job, and fast. She lived in an expensive high-rise in Arlington, and only had enough in reserve to cover two months’ rent. Filing charges against a huge sports star—the most popular guy in the state right now—would not win her any friends among hiring officials, or anybody else.

Heck, her five brothers—all of them hockey nuts—might even be annoyed at her. Of course, they all also might want to kill Neeley. She honestly didn’t know how her family would react, and didn’t want to find out. She only prayed that the story wouldn’t go national, and her family wouldn’t see any coverage of it in the tiny Pennsylvania town where they all lived.

“I hate it, and it goes against everything I believe in, but I have to just let it go,” she said. “Gotta hope karma takes care of this one for me and Neeley gets what he deserves.”

“If there’s anything Lex can do, I’m sure he would,” said Amelia. “He’s no fan of Neeley’s. He thinks he’s a fathead.”

“Well, he’s certainly a hardhead. And thanks, I appreciate it,” Viv said, meaning it. Amelia’s fiancé was a popular DC sports reporter. If worse came to worst, it might not be bad to have him on her side. “But I guess I just want to get the firing over with and move on.”

“Don’t give up,” said Lulu. “Somebody in that room had to have seen what Neeley did. Or you can explain to the general manager. He might be so worried about bad publicity that he’ll let you stay.”

It was possible, she supposed, and she allowed her friend’s words to cheer her up momentarily.

But they proved to be overly optimistic.

Because about eighteen hours later, after a meeting with the team’s general manager that left her humiliated and angry, Viv was cleaning out her desk.


* * *

WHAT DAMIEN BLACK knew about cars would probably fit on the inside cover of a matchbook. But as he watched a shapely blonde lift the hood of her sedan and stare with a complete lack of comprehension at the inner workings of the engine, he found himself wishing he was an ace mechanic.

One thing he did know how to do, however, was spell AAA. So without even hesitating, he changed direction, heading not toward the exit and the adjoining office building that he owned, but to the woman with the car trouble.


The blonde had been mumbling some colorful words under her breath as he walked up behind her, and obviously hadn’t heard him approach. His words startled her. She jerked her head, glancing at him over her shoulder, giving him his first real look at her.

Damien’s lips parted in a small, surprised inhalation, but he quickly schooled his features. He was used to not giving anything away, and he definitely didn’t want to let this gorgeous female know he’d been briefly rendered speechless by how stunning she was.

He’d seen the golden-blond hair confined in a tight bun, and the tall body clad in a somewhat baggy gray suit as he’d approached her. But nothing had prepared him for the big baby blues, surrounded by long, thick lashes. The heart-shaped face was flawless, the mouth wide, the lips lush, the cheekbones high.

But her makeup wasn’t exactly perfect—in fact, some dark smudges under her eyes hinted that she’d either cried or wiped off some mascara in the recent past. The thin streaks on her cheeks suggested tears.

Who made you cry? And how can I hurt him for you?

“Do you know anything about cars?” she asked, her voice shaking.

He didn’t even try to lie, though he also didn’t admit that he had a driver most of the time. “I’m afraid not. But I do have a cell phone and can call you a tow truck.”

She blew out a frustrated breath. “I can’t afford that. Not anymore, anyway.”

Curious, he raised a brow.

“I just got fired.”

Damien frowned, hearing the hurt in her voice that she tried to disguise with a harsh laugh.

“Can you beat it? Lose my job and have a breakdown all within the same hour. This day’s just stellar. Hell, this whole week’s going to be one for the record books.”

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