By: Leslie Kelly

Damien wasn’t a hypocrite. He liked women; he especially liked beautiful women, as long as they didn’t expect anything long-term. And this one was an interesting combination of beauty and brains.

He suspected she had problems because of that mixture, judging by the fact that she dressed severely to play down her appearance, and kept what he suspected was a glorious head of hair so tightly constrained.

“Nothing’s wrong with you. Maybe I’m just a nice guy.” That amused him, since few in the corporate world thought of him as anything of the kind.

She snorted. “I’d like to meet one of those someday. Haven’t come across any in a long time.”

He sensed she was talking about her job again. He was suddenly curious about this position she’d lost. Given the way she spoke about the men she’d worked with, and the outfit, he suspected sexual harassment had been the underlying cause. Which totally pissed him off. He had younger sisters. If something like that had happened to them, he’d be out for blood. He also had a strict policy against sexual harassment in all his companies, even the hotels in countries where discrimination against women was rampant.

Nobody deserved to be judged or treated differently because of their sex or their looks. As ridiculous as it sounded, he’d learned that himself over the years. He’d been called a pretty boy when he’d inherited a huge mantle of responsibility at a young age and been underestimated more than once, though once was usually enough for most people. Of course, it hadn’t been enough for those closest to him...his own mother, for instance. Which was one reason he spent most of his time in his hotels and rarely went back to his Miami home.

Shoving that situation out of his mind, he focused only on this stranger. “I suspect you could use a friend—and a mechanic—more than a date.”

She glanced down at her suit and made a face. “It’s these ugly clothes, isn’t it? I guess that’s one nice thing about losing my job, I don’t have to dress like a seventy-year-old librarian anymore.”

Noting she’d just confirmed his suspicions, he barked a laugh. God, did the woman really believe a baggy gray suit could disguise the fact that she had more curves than a circle?

“I doubt anyone would ever mistake you for an old lady.”

“Still, you didn’t try to pick me up, which means I’ve been playing good girl for so long, I have completely lost my touch.”

Playing good girl? Hmm.

“There was a time when I would’ve had you offering to buy me a drink, dinner and breakfast, in that order, within five minutes of meeting me.”

Would you have accepted?

“Under other circumstances, I probably would,” he admitted. “But the truth is, I’ve got two kid sisters, and if one of them had had a day as bad as yours, I’d hope some nice guy would offer to help her without any selfish motives.”

She eyed him steadily—God, those blue eyes—and finally a slow smile spread across her face. “You’re really serious.”

He couldn’t help returning her smile with one of his own. It creaked across his face slowly. He wasn’t used to smiling lately, given how hard he’d been working and the family nonsense he always had to deal with. “Yeah, I really am.”

Nibbling her lip, she cast an uncertain eye toward her car.

“If you can’t afford a tow,” he said, “let me call somebody. I have a friend who’s good with cars. He can be here in five minutes.”

That would be his driver, Jed, who’d just dropped him off on the main floor of the garage, near the doors leading directly into the building. He’d gone up to park in the reserved corporate level one floor up.

“Five minutes?”

Damien didn’t answer, instead pulling out his phone and dialing his driver. When Jed answered, he described the problem and then disconnected. “Less than five minutes,” he told her with a shrug. “He said you can leave the car unlocked and the keys under the mat.”

Her brow went up. “Seriously?” Quickly casting an eye over the dented vehicle, she added, “Then again, even if it could start—which it won’t—who’d want to steal it?”

“Good point. Now, while he checks it out, you and I can go to the bar, get out of the heat and talk about your horrible, no-good, very bad day.”

She glared. “You have kids!” Grabbing his left hand, she yanked it up. “You’re married, aren’t you? I should’ve figured.”

He couldn’t help chuckling at her indignant expression, and her assumption. “Not as much as a tan line on that finger, see? Not married. Never have been. No kids. But I have a three-year-old nephew who loves being read to.”

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