Who can resist a pint-sized female with luscious curves stranded in a parking lot? Not Josh McMann. It's his pleasure to save Ness Bowen, especially given the instant sensual chemistry that explodes between them. When she wrecks her car on the way to meet him for dinner, he saves her once again. And dinner at home takes on a whole new meaning as the sexual pull becomes too strong for either to ignore. The more they see each other, the more intense and erotic the sex becomes.
But Ness sees Josh as a player, and she's been dumped by men like him who were always looking for the next conquest. Josh has his own trust issues, having been burned by women interested only in his money and power.
When a breakfast date goes awry and Ness thinks she's been dumped once again, it takes a lot of fancy maneuvering from Josh to make amends.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Erected by Desiree Holt
"Help." The voice was female and would have been musical if there hadn't been such a note of panic in it. "Help me. My car's been stolen."
Josh jerked himself out of his reverie and stared at the woman clumping her way along the parking lot. And clumping was definitely the right word, what with the walking cast on one leg from her foot to just below the knee. She would have bumped right into him if he hadn't caught her by the arms.
"Hey. Hold on." He tightened his fingers when she tried to pull away. "I don't think trying to run in that cast is the best idea in the world. Now. You said someone stole your car?"
"Yes." She jerked loose from him, and looked around wild-eyed. "Where's that idiot valet kid?"
Josh studied the image in front of him. Even with the clumsy cast she could make his pulse speed up without much urging. She barely came up to his shoulders but the anxiety and anger more than made up for her size. A thin, navy sweater and knee-length skirt hugged curves that in any other situation he'd be itching to run his hands over. Thick hair in a rich brown tumbled around her face, framing hazel eyes and a sensuous mouth. He saw all of this in a matter of seconds before she started screaming again, and immediately his physical reaction disappeared.
"Listen to me." He reached for her again. In his business he was used to dealing with crazy clients. How different could this be? "Can you just calm down a minute and tell me about your car? I'll see if I can help you."
At that moment the valet drove up in Josh's tricked-out pickup. The woman broke away from Josh and limped over to him, managing surprising speed what with the bulky cast. She grabbed the kid by the lapels on his vest and stuck her face close to his.
"You have to help me. Right now. My car's been stolen."
The kid paled and looked to Josh, who had followed the woman.
"Okay." He managed the peel her fingers from the kid's vest and grab her wrists. "Can we take a deep breath here and find out exactly what's wrong?"
"Exactly what's wrong," she ground out, "is that someone stole my brand-new car. I parked it over there." She pointed to a spot somewhere further down the parking lot.
"Can you tell me a little more specifically?" Josh was doing his level best to bring some common sense and calm to the situation. "Maybe you just forgot where you left it?"
She pulled herself away from him again. "Not likely. Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Josh McMann." He curved his lips in what his last three girlfriends had told him was a killer smile that could make women melt. He hoped it worked this time because this sexy handful was about to self-destruct. "How about telling me who you are?"
"Vanessa Bowen. Ness. And I'm missing a brand spanking new BMW." Panic washed over her face. "It doesn't even have fifty miles on it."
Josh looked at the valet kid. "Did you park it for her?"
He shook his head, his face pale and panic evident on his face.
He makes minimum wage and tips. He's not about to claim any knowledge of a high-end vehicle.
Ness waved her hands in the air. "Absolutely not. Do you think I'd trust it to some idiot?"
Way to make friends, Josh thought, and dragged out his best smile. "Hey, hey, hey. Let's calm down and find out what's going on."
"What going on is my car's been stolen." She took a deep breath, let it out and burst into tears.
Josh looked at the valet, shrugged and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket.
She looked at him, her face red and tear-stained, and took the handkerchief.
"Thank you. I don't know what came over me. I don't usually shriek like a banshee or burst into tears." She gave him a watery grin. "At least not in public."
He waited until he figured she was as composed as she was going to get before he spoke again. "Maybe," he said in a soothing voice, "if you could show us exactly where you parked we might find some answers. There could be a security camera there. I happen to know this mall has several of them."
"Okay." She wiped her eyes once more and started to hand the handkerchief back to him.
"Keep it." He grinned at her. "You might need it again."
"Oh god," she sighed "I hope not. I promise you I'm not such a ditz. It's just...it's just...the past week's been such a bitch."
"No sweat. I've had weeks like that, too."
She opened her mouth to speak and the words fell out like a cascading waterfall. "I got in this accident with my car and it had to be totaled and it took the insurance company forever to settle the claim and I broke my ankle and the guy I'm seeing--was seeing--took off on our vacation with someone else and..." She clapped a hand over her mouth.
The tears started again. Josh thought, along with a broken ankle, she had a major case of stress. What kind of schmuck would take off with another woman when the one he planned his vacation with ended up with broken bones?
"I didn't hear a word," he assured her.
"I apologize. This isn't me at all. Really."
He could see her struggling to regain her composure. "So how about showing me where you parked?"
She grabbed his hand. "Down here. Let's go."
The valet sagged with relief. "I'll just put your truck over here at the side, Mr. McMann."
"Good idea." He slid another folded bill into the kid's hand. "Keep an eye on it for me, will you?"
"Sure thing." He shoved the money in his pocket and turned to the waiting crowd of customers.
Ness Bowen was already tugging Josh down the sidewalk, past the restaurant and the very curious crowd of onlookers waiting for their cars. He didn't have trouble keeping up with her, what with her cast and all. He was more worried about the death grip she had on his hand and the fact she was cutting off circulation to his fingers. They had passed three storefronts when she finally stopped, raked her hair back from her face and pointed to an empty parking space.
"There." She pointed. "Right there."
Josh looked. Yup. The spot was empty. It also had a blue and white sign, impossible to miss, with the legend Restricted: Handicapped Only.
Josh wasn't sure if he should be mad at the woman's stupidity or laugh at it.
"Vanessa," he began.
"Ness," she insisted.
"Okay, Ness." What the hell difference did it make? "It appears you parked in a handicapped space. My guess is mall security had your car towed."
She dragged her fingers through her hair. "But I have a temporary permit."
"Because of your cast?"
She nodded, breathing out a sigh of exasperation. "Damn. I must have forgotten to display it."
Josh swallowed a sigh. Why did it always happen to him? His brothers always said he was born with the white knight gene and he attracted women in distress.
"Maybe it's the only way you can get them," Tyler had joked one night, then ducked before Josh could deck him