By: Leslie Kelly

“That’s too bad,” he said, meaning it. “Where did you work?”

“It doesn’t matter.” She slammed down the hood of her car, giving up on even trying to figure out what was wrong with it. “It’s their loss, anyway.”

Swinging around to face him, he saw her eyes widen, much as his just had. He was used to having an effect on women, though he didn’t necessarily try to. Part of it was his money, some of which he’d inherited from his father, but most he’d earned on his own. But he’d also been gifted with his late father’s tall, lean build, black hair and dark brown eyes. He knew when women became aware of him as a man...and this one just had.

But instead of smiling flirtatiously, as he expected, she instead jabbed an index finger toward his chest, punctuating her words. “I was damn good at my job. Or I would have been, if they’d given me a real chance. I didn’t even make it through my probationary period.” She rubbed at her eyes, her shoulders slumping. “God, I need a drink.”

“That I can help you with. There’s a nice bar in the hotel next door, where I’m staying.”

He should know. He owned the hotel, too. As well as the parking garage in which they were standing. In fact, between his family’s corporation, his own international hotel chain and his new, just-for-fun enterprise, he owned quite a bit of prime Arlington real estate. Not that he was going to reveal that to this woman. He far preferred that people not realize who he was when they first met him, wanting to be judged on his own merits and not on the size of his bank accounts.

She sighed heavily. “Oh, here we go.”


“See a helpless woman and move in for the kill, huh?”

He frowned. “First of all, you don’t appear helpless.”

“I’m not.”

“Second, I’m not a killer.”

“Maybe I worded that badly.”

I should think so.

“Lady-killer is more like it.”

His frown deepened. “I wasn’t moving in for anything. I’m not trying to prey on your tearful state, ply you with drink and have my wicked way with you.”

Well, not really. Mostly, he’d asked her to join him for a drink because she looked as if she’d been having a really crappy day. And, okay, he’d admit it, she was pretty damn stunning.

Damien hadn’t been involved with anyone in a few months. He’d had his nose to the grindstone because of a major expansion in the family business, plus stealing what time he could to oversee his own personal endeavors.

But it wasn’t just his work schedule that had kept him celibate. He’d also been trying to avoid the matrimonial traps single females sometimes laid out for him. Nobody was ever going to catch him in one of those—love and marriage just didn’t seem to work for the men in his family.

Even purely physical relationships had been difficult to arrange lately. Hell, his own mother threw a never-ending stream of “appropriate” women in his direction. So he’d found it easier to just keep his head down and his libido in cold storage.

This blonde had made him begin to wonder if it was time to change that, though. It had been ages since he’d been so instantly attracted to someone. He’d gone from cold storage to overheated in fewer than ten minutes, and he wanted to know more about the woman who’d so easily thawed him out, even if that only involved a drink.

She shook her head and closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m a bit of a man-hating psycho-bitch right now.”

“Was there a recent breakup to go with the firing and the breakdown?”

“Let’s start calling it ‘car trouble.’ ‘Breakdown’ sounds mental, and I haven’t reached that point. At least not yet.”


“And the breakup was a few months ago. But more recently, a man made my work life hell, and another man fired me for it. I’m not fond of the male sex right at this moment.”

“I don’t blame you.” Then he shrugged. “Their stupidity, my loss.”

“I guess so.” A frown tugging at her brow, she suddenly squared her shoulders and stared at him, hard. “Why not?”

“Why not what?”

“Why weren’t you trying to pick me up?”

“Didn’t you just accuse me of being a killer?”

“Lady-killer. But you weren’t making moves on me. Why? Is there something wrong with me?”

Odd, now she seemed annoyed. He had thought by her reaction that she’d be glad he wasn’t coming on to her. Even though, technically, he supposed he was. For altruistic reasons, of least until later, when she’d recovered from her post-firing, car-breakdown slump.

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