“So when are you going to tell your dad?”
“Not until I have to. He’s always had this dream of me taking over the family business. But I have other ideas.”
“Gotta love it when a plan comes together.” Ellen toasted her with a forkful of chocolate lava cake.
Unable to dissolve the nugget of worry that hung around her like a curse, Keisha shrugged. “Yeah, as long as it really does.”
“Have faith. You may not always get what you want, but you do get what you need.”
Keisha halted her fork halfway to her mouth. In their twenty-year friendship, Ellen had managed to mess up the words to almost every song they’d ever sang into their hairbrushes. “Are there any song lyrics you don’t butcher?”
“Only the words to every sad sack country song out there about a man who loses a dog.”
Of course. “You’re a hot mess.”
Ellen laughed. “Pretty much, but you love cleaning up messes, so you love hanging around me.”
“No.” Keisha devoured another bite. “I love you for the cake.”
“Fair enough.” Ellen polished off her cake and swiped a piece from Keisha’s plate just as the phone rang.
Keisha stared at it, a swift uptick in her pulse making her cheeks heat up, but didn’t make a move to answer. Could it be him? A mutinous part of her sure as hell hoped so.
“Don’t tell me you are letting a call go to voicemail. Now that would be a first.” Ellen delivered a melodramatic gasp. “The scandal.”
“Oh shut up.” She chewed the inside of her cheek. “It’s probably Gabe Campos again, and I just can’t deal with him any more today.”
Would she have taken the call if she’d been alone in the office? Probably. Something about sparring with Gabe got her motor purring. It must be the novelty of telling someone no. That had to be it.
“I don’t know, I’ve seen pictures…” Ellen’s face took on a dreamy quality, and she sighed.
“Too bad his personality isn’t as hot as he is,” Keisha mumbled.
Ellen wriggled her eyebrows. “If you stopped spending all your free time fixing up that old bucket of bolts of yours and actually started dating again, you’d realize you don’t sleep with their personality.”
“You’re so bad.” Keisha tossed a crumpled napkin at her best friend. “And, anyway, working on my Thunderbird is the closest I get to a moment of Zen.”
“Unless that moment comes with orgasms, you’re missing out.”
“I don’t need a man for that.” Still, Keisha snuck a glance at her laptop screen and the photo of Gabe.
Tall, muscular, and classically handsome, with warm, light brown skin that stood testament to his Hispanic heritage, she couldn’t deny he was hot. But it was the hint of a cocky smolder behind his black-framed glasses that had her squeezing her thighs together and twisting in her seat.
Good thing Gabe was in Harbor City. A girl could only take so much temptation.
After ten years and one billion dollars, lady luck had decided to give Gabe Campos the middle finger. And, possibly, frostbite.
He stepped onto the slushy surface of Highway Twenty-Eight outside of Salvation, Virginia, and an icy wind gust smacked him in the face. The arctic air carried fluffy snowflakes the size of quarters, turning his pristine glasses into opaque decoration. Then, after a few breaths of frosty air, icicles crystalized on his new short-trimmed beard. Of all the places for his car to finally sputter to a stop, it had to be on an abandoned stretch of highway miles away from the interstate and any sign of civilization.
All because of a weird combination of revenge, curiosity, and lust. Maybe his cousin Carlos was right—he had lost his mind.
Gabe flipped his wool coat’s collar up to guard against the cold wind as best he could and wiped the fog off his glasses. He circled around to the car’s front bumper. It took him a few tries to figure out the hood’s clasp, but it finally gave way, and he popped open his Aston Martin Vanquish’s snow-slick hood. He’d bought the sports car last week for two important reasons.
Number one, it went fast. Really. Really. Fast.
Number two, it was his favorite shade of red.
A car guy, he was not. A fact that became all too apparent as he stared at the AM11 engine, which was about as familiar and understandable to him as a ski lodge that didn’t come with a live-in maid. He had grown up with money, but making a million before graduating high school tended to change a man’s perspective—and his expectations.
Right about now, though, he’d happily give up the jet black Bentley parked in his garage back home in Harbor City for a second chance at the auto mechanic lessons his Uncle Julio had tried to give him as a teenager. But Gabe had assumed that with as much bank as he had, he didn’t need to know how to change his oil. His uncle would get a good laugh out of this.
That was if—and it seemed like a big if—Gabe found shelter before the fast moving snow storm turned him into Frosty the Snowman. He rubbed his palms together hard enough to chafe them despite his leather driving gloves. The pain was worth it for the little bit of heat the move garnered—just like his plan.
Revenge didn’t come without a little heartburn. Sure, a few people may lose their jobs, but Gabe had sworn a vow that Dell Jacobs would lose a lot more. No matter the weather, it was time to see his promise through.
He slammed the car’s hood down and shoved his hands into his pockets. The interstate was closer than Salvation, but the solitary, two-pump gas station he’d passed coming off the exit ramp had already closed down for the night. The town ahead had to have something open despite the worsening weather. He hesitated and looked up at the gray sky.
Conventional wisdom said to wait out a storm in your car until help arrived, but he hadn’t seen any sign of life for more than an hour. The town of Salvation lay a few miles down the road. Ten tops. After completing three Ironman competitions, he should be able to do that distance in his sleep. Even with the snow.
Gabe glanced back one last time at the car before grinning and pulling out a wool hat from his pocket. He’d never followed conventional wisdom before. Why in the hell would he start now?
It only took half an hour of slugging through snow before he’d called himself every word for idiot, moron, and douchebag he could think of in the eight languages he spoke fluently. In an effort to keep his mind off of the wind, the sleet, the misery, and the sheet of ice forming on his mustache, he started in on the languages he only knew a little.