Fuck, the whole badass chic vibe she threw was hot.
What is wrong with you, Campos? She’s just another girl. You’ve charmed the pants off more of those than you can count.
Gabe took a deep breath and pushed his glasses up from where they’d slipped down his nose. “Can we start over?”
“Why?” She jutted her hip out, accentuating her generous, hourglass curves.
He almost swallowed his tongue.
“Because I have a serious medical condition.” Gabe shook his head ruefully. “It’s called foot-in-mouth disease. I’ve donated half my fortune to finding a cure, but until the scientists do, I will continue to say stupid things when it’s really the last thing in the world I want to do.”
She arched one eyebrow and pursed her cherry-stained lips. “Does that line ever actually work?”
“I’ll let you know in a minute.” He held his breath, waiting on the outcome, trying to ignore the little voice telling him he cared too much about her next words.
Keisha shook her head, and her afro did a shimmy wave, echoing the movement. “You’re crazy.”
Relief whooshed through him. “That’s what they told me when I wanted to invest in Tesla, but after I got to drive an early test model, I couldn’t not sink some money into it.”
“You got to drive a Tesla? I heard it performs like a dream.” Her voice vibrated with excitement, and she took a step closer.
Shit. A car girl. Of course, it was the one thing he knew jack shit about. He racked his brain for something to say. “It was pretty cool taking it around the track. It has this crazy thing where the car is speeding around the raceway, but it’s totally silent. It’ll be the electric car that will really get American drivers on the gas-free road.” Oh yeah, that sounded like something a semi-intelligent fifth grader would mumble.
She flipped around and started up a set of stairs. “You know a lot about cars?”
“Only enough to know where the key goes in the ignition.” Following behind her on the narrow staircase, he couldn’t help but admire the view illuminated by his single-bulb flashlight. Some parts of his anatomy were definitely defrosting faster than others. “But I know a good thing when I see it.”
Her footsteps paused.
His stomach sank. “So I take it you like cars?” The words rushed out of his mouth before she could lock him back out in the cold.
“What gave it away? The fact that I live above a garage or the grease on my overalls?”
Damn, the woman did not give an inch. He liked that almost as much as how her loose-fitting coveralls gave the barest outline of her high, round ass with each step she took up the stairs. “My brilliant powers of deduction?”
“Uh-huh.” She halted and opened a door at the top of the small landing. “Come on in. Welcome to the Fix ‘Er Up penthouse.”
He stood in the doorway as her flashlight beam traveled around the room, shining on brightly colored knickknacks and pillows before landing on a brick hearth.
“We’re lucky this building was a house before Hud’s family bought it and converted it into an auto shop, otherwise we’d be stuck shivering in the break room.”
He followed her voice until they were both within the combined glow of their flashlights. A small stack of logs formed a pyramid inside the fireplace. They both grabbed for the pile of newspapers at the same time, each ending up with one end of the front page. The light played off her mocha-colored skin, making it seem like it shimmered. She looked up, and he nearly fell into the depths of her big brown eyes. The sense of excitement that crawled up his spine whenever he was about to close a big deal hit him with full force.
The unexpectedness of it all coldcocked him.
“Sorry,” he croaked and released the paper as if it were on fire.
The newspaper fluttered to the floor between them. Keisha’s expressive eyes darkened, and she gulped.
“No worries.” All the brass in her tone had softened into a breathy half sigh.
Expectation hung in the air between them.
In the chill of her tiny, dark apartment it seemed as if all the months of back and forth on the phone had been building up to this moment. She parted her full, red lips slightly, and her teeth grazed the juicy bottom lip. The need to kiss her barreled through him like a living, breathing thing. The reaction surprised him so much he dropped his flashlight.
The plastic tube banged against her floor and rolled until it thunked against something hard and came to rest a few feet away. Keisha blinked and straightened before setting her flashlight on the hearth. “Here, you make the kindling. I’ll grab some candles.” She hustled out of their circle of light.
And that fast, he was sitting alone in the dark wondering for the first time in years what it would be like to kiss a girl. Not about a no-strings fuck between friends. Not about a blow job in the limo. Not about a quickie after a night at the clubs.
Just what it would be like to kiss her.
The logs in the hearth crackled as the blaze grew, casting waving shadows across Keisha’s tiny living-slash-dining room. The apartment above the garage wasn’t spacious or modern, but it had a big brick fireplace that threw out enough heat to keep the cold at bay. Not that Keisha needed any help in that department with Gabe nearby.
The man had her running hotter than an engine without oil. If she didn’t watch it, pretty soon she’d combust. Standing in the kitchen doorway, holding two steaming drinks, she barely felt the heat on her palms.
Gabe sat in front of the fire, holding his hands out to the flames. The firelight highlighted the warm brown of his hair and reflected off his glasses, blocking her from seeing the brilliant blue of his eyes. Her stomach flip-flopped. He’d almost kissed her earlier, she was sure of it. And she’d wanted him to.
Anticipation and trepidation at the thought of standing next to him again went skipping through her, leaving her body confused and wanting. He was an arrogant, cocky billionaire too used to getting his way and the last person who should get her this hot and bothered. Still, her brain knowing that and her body accepting it were two very different things.
Oh God, what if Ellen was right? Had she been spending too much time with muscle cars instead of muscled men?
Fact was she couldn’t unsee his hard abs. Some things stuck with a girl and made her remember that battery operated boyfriends were good…but not the same.
Get your big girl panties on, K. You can make it through an evening of chit-chat with a hot, rich dude without embarrassing yourself.