As a professional hit man, Will Collier has more secrets than most. But on a sweltering Texas night, the lives he’s taken rank second place to the love he’d like to be making with a sensual Bohemian beauty.
Sabrina Walker is intimately familiar with the havoc Cupid can wreak. She’s determined that love will never seduce her again, until she meets Will Collier and discovers that some secrets are better when shared.
Warning: This book contains a spunky, plus-sized heroine, a sassy Beagle named Scamp, and a sexually frustrated hitman who can’t figure out what women want (then again, what man can?).
Will had just veered south, on the home stretch to El Paso when he spotted the ugly yellow van sitting on the side of the road. At first he thought it was a trick of the sunlight, a figment of his fatigued brain despite the five hours of sleep he’d gotten, but as his Tahoe clicked off each tenth of a mile, he realized there was a woman standing next to the van, her skirt blowing in the breeze. He tapped the brake and slowed to sixty.
He didn’t trust anyone. Not even a woman who appeared to be alone, but the manners his mom had instilled in him from a very early age made him pull off the road and back up. He jotted down the plate number, stowed the pen and paper under the armrest, and then shoved a Glock in the back of his pants.
Climbing out, he adjusted his shirt over the gun and assessed the situation. “Need some help?”
With her long skirts and the scarf wrapped around a mass of curly, dark brown hair, she looked like one of those Traveling Irish—modern-day gypsies. They didn’t usually travel alone, so he took another long, hard look at the landscape, wondering if it was a trick. Nothing but cactus and sand and shimmering heat in every direction for miles and miles.
“It’s just overheated,” she said.
“Want me to call a tow truck?” They were roughly thirty minutes outside of El Paso. Definitely close enough for one to come and pick her up (and he’d have done his good deed for the month).
“No.” She had her hands tucked in the folds of her skirt; her white blouse clung to her large breasts. She was pretty but…sweaty and so hot her shoulders were bowed by the oppressive heat.
“How about I take a look for you?” he offered, slowly moving closer.
“That’s not necessary.” The expression on her freckled face seemed wary and guarded as she shuffled from foot to foot. She backed up a bit, and he wondered what she was hiding. Just then a smallish mutt barked from the front seat. Despite his loud mouth, he looked and sounded about as ferocious as Odie from the Garfield cartoon.
“Shut up, Scamp!” She swiped a hand across her forehead and swayed on her feet, grabbing the van for support.
”How long have you been out here?”
“A while,” she finally confessed with a limp smile. “You’re the first person to stop.”
“I’ve got some water.” He slowly moved toward the Tahoe. “Be right back.” He got her a bottle of water from the cooler he kept in the back of the SUV, slammed the window shut and turned back only to find her on the ground.
Still clutching the water bottle, he rushed over. He smoothed her hair away from her face, conscious of the constant barking of her dog and the bitter pungent aroma of coolant seeping from the bottom of the van.
Will carried her to the air-conditioned comfort of the Tahoe and laid her across the empty back seat. Other than her flushed cheeks, she was pale underneath her tan. He dabbed at her face and neck with condensation from the water bottle, conscious of warm skin of her breasts only inches from his fingers. Luckily, she came to in just a few minutes.
“What’s your name?” His tongue felt thick and clumsy in his mouth.
“Sabrina…Walker.” She wet her full lips with the tip of her pink tongue and struggled to sit up as the confusion clouding her eyes slowly dissipated. “What happened?”
“Oh,” she said softly, as she realized she was alone, with a complete stranger, in the back of his Tahoe, miles from anywhere. She pushed herself upright and licked her lips again, her eyes scanning for a means of escape.
“It’s okay.” He pressed the open bottle into her hand, and then slowly backed away from the open door, motioning toward the road with a wave of his hand.
“You? What’s your name?”
He stuck with what he knew, his brain distracted by long eyelashes and soft, puffy-looking lips. “Roy. Now, how about that ride?”
She sipped at her water, glancing around the SUV again. She finally nodded, slowly and with obvious reservations. “I need my stuff, and my dog.”
Sabrina Walker had a permanent tan, her skin a lovely shade of golden brown and dotted with freckles, her nose was small and pug-like in a cute way. Her large eyes were a hazel green rimmed with brown and accented with long lashes, and her lush lips formed a cupid’s bow. He could thank his sister for that obscure bit of knowledge. Her long, dark, curly hair was shot through with red and gold—the better to make things interesting. They might call her plump, but no one would ever call her plain.
Her van was probably shot and he couldn’t leave her sitting there on the side of the road to pass out again while waiting for help that might never come, or worse.
He did the only thing he could. He’d loaded her and her damn dog up in his SUV. He figured he could find a garage in El Paso and buy her a meal while they waited on the tow.
“Why do you keep staring at me?” Her voice was husky, rough and unrefined like her.
He forced his attention back to the road. If he didn’t stop staring, she’d jump out, moving vehicle or not. “Just wondering what you were doing out here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Driving. You?” she quickly shot back.
Will laughed as much at her sarcasm as her quick wit. She’d obviously been around the block a time or two. “Where you headed?”
“A Ren-Faire in San Antonio.” The dog on her lap pawed at the console separating them. He wasn’t near as cute as she was, so Will frowned at him, hoping he’d stop before he marked up the leather.
“What the hell is a Ren-Faire?”
“You know, people dress up like knights and bar maids and drink mead and eat turkey legs. I tell fortunes.”
“Fortunes.” He snorted, thinking he told fortunes too, but his were probably nowhere near as fun as hers.
“I’m actually pretty good.”
“That’s why you live in your van?” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. Proving once again what an insensitive ass he was. He scowled at the road, waiting for a sharp retort that never came.
Instead, she sighed, her fingers curling in her mutt’s short hair she glanced out the window. The Tahoe ate up the miles carrying them closer and closer to El Paso. In her lap, the dog whimpered briefly, raised his head then settled back down as Sabrina stroked him. Her short, utilitarian fingers continued to gently knead as outside the SUV, the desert finally, slowly gave way to humanity.
With each mile that passed, her silence dug at him like a knife in his gut. “I’m sorry,” he finally blurted out.
“Sorry for what?” She turned to look at him, her big greenish eyes curious.
“For what I said.”
“Huh?” A slight frown puckered her brow. “What did you say?”
Here they went—the passive-aggressive, dog-and-pony show was on. Sorry was never enough. Women. They always wanted more…blood, sweat, tears, your American Express card. Whatever… “My comment about living in your van. I’m sorry.” There! He’d said it.
“Oh, sure.” She shrugged in a way that made him grit his teeth. With his ex, he would have gone three rounds by now. “No problem.”
Of course there was a problem. There was always a problem.
And problem was spelled C-O-O-C-H-I-E. To get a little you had to give—a lot. Women were the scorekeepers, the referees and the opponents, and men were expected to know all the rules—except they never let you see the rulebook.
Then again, maybe he’d read her wrong; maybe he’d read too much into her silence. As tired as he was, he supposed anything was possible.
“So what were you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“I’m a salesman.”
“Wow! Your company must love you.” She patted the console, indicating the SUV’s luxury package.
“I’m on vacation.” Jesus, surely he could lie better than this! He had to get rid of her, and soon. Before he said something he’d regret.
She was irritating him, getting under his skin with those big eyes and full lips. And those tits…he turned the air conditioner on high, and shifted in his seat, willing himself to not think about his cock—and her lips. Sabrina was off limits.
All women were off limits. He’d learned his lesson with Tilly.
He had to get rid of Sabrina and get back to Oklahoma and find a new place to live. Maybe a monastery. Did they even have monasteries in Oklahoma?