Authors: Kira Archer
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Comedy, #opposites attract, #Kira Archer, #enemies to lovers, #Contemporary Romance, #Road trip, #entangled, #Lovestruck, #wrong side of the tracks, #Contemporary, #Category, #forced proximity
Driven to (sexy) distraction…
Cher Debusshere hates being the black sheep of her posh, well-to-do family almost as much as she hates driving—which is exactly what she’s forced to do when her flight home for her perfect sister’s wedding is grounded.
Then a hot guy offers to share both the car rental
the driving duties…only to drive her crazy by assuming she’s just some spoiled little rich girl.
Mechanic Nathaniel “Oz” Oserkowski is about as blue-collar as they come. There’s never been a time he hasn’t worked his ass off, and he’s determined to prove it to the gorgeous princess in the passenger seat. As the miles pass, they bait and needle each other…until their lust and longing gets so hot it nearly overheats the engine.
They have nothing in common. Hell, they can barely stand each other. But sometimes it takes a journey to change the destination…
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Kira Archer. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Visit our website at
Lovestruck is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
Edited by Erin Molta and Heather Howland
Cover design by Heather Howland
Cover art from iStock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition August 2015
To the hubs and my kidlets. You are my world.
Cherice Debusshere slowly blinked open her eyes and stretched. The sun filtered in through her half-drawn blinds, sending pale yellow stripes across her duvet—
Wait. The sun?
She grabbed her phone. 8:14 a.m.
The alarm was definitely still set, but it hadn’t gone off. She did a quick check.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she groaned, jumping out of bed. She’d set the damn thing for six p.m., not six a.m. She ducked under her blinds and stuck her head out the window. The town-car idled at the curb. As if to rub it in, the driver honked again. Cherice groaned.
She was going to miss her plane.
Her mother was going to
Scrambling around her apartment she tossed shoes, hairbrush, deodorant, and her favorite shampoo and face wash into her carry-on bag. She shoved her legs into a tasteful pair of slacks, tucking in the matching silk shell tank, and grabbed a delicate cashmere sweater to go over it. Her mother had always told her to dress her best, because you never know who you might meet, and as Cherice pulled out the few pieces of clothing that her mother would approve of
would make her feel good—she could mix and match for the weekend—she sighed and folded them carefully in her bag.
Her doorbell rang.
“Crap,” she muttered again. Her foot got tangled in the strap of the purse she’d left on the floor and she hopped over to the door while trying to extricate it. She needed to slow down before she killed herself. But slowing down would make her more late. Late was bad.
She pulled the door open, her heart pounding like she’d run up five flights of stairs. The driver stood waiting, hands clasped in front of him.
“Hi, I’m Cherice,” she said, holding out her hand.
He looked surprised but shook her hand. “I’m Tim.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m almost ready.”
He nodded. “Can I take your luggage?”
“Oh. It’s not quite ready yet.”
“Would you like me to wait?”
“No, that’s all right, thank you. I’ll bring it down.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He looked at his watch. “If we don’t leave soon…”
“I know, I know. Sorry. I’ll be right there.”
He nodded again and headed back down the stairs.
Cherice hurried to the bathroom and brushed her teeth in record time, grabbing a glass of water to rinse her mouth. A quick glance at the clock on the wall made her inhale and choke. It didn’t
so much as taunt.
Late, late, late, late, late.
She tossed the remains of her water in the direction of Betty, the potted plant on her counter, and missed. She groaned. The poor thing was finally showing renewed signs of life. It would suck to lose her now.
Cherice made sure the little inverted water bottle was still propped up in the dirt, holes properly drilled so it would slowly leak water into the soil. She’d Googled ways to keep plants watered while on vacation. Hopefully, this worked.
“You hang in there, Betty,” she murmured to the plant while softly stroking its leaves.
She wiped her mouth and then mopped up the mess on the counter. The water would dry just fine if she left it, but it would leave spots. It might be her personal bathroom, but that, as her mother would say, was no excuse to cut corners. She might fail at most of the life lessons her mother had taught her, but damn it, her apartment was always guest-ready and she always looked her best.
Tim honked again. She hung her head out the window and shouted down to him. “I’m coming!”
Luckily, her mom had the bridesmaid’s dress she was wearing, so she didn’t have to worry about that. Her suitcase was overstuffed, but she didn’t have the time to pack it more carefully.
Cherice shoved a necklace and some bangles in her pocket, tossed her makeup bag in her purse, and ran out the door. It hadn’t even closed yet before she shoved it back open, her anxiety ratcheting up another notch at the delay.
She snatched her suitcase and rushed out, locking the door behind her. Thankfully, she’d checked in via her cell phone last night and had taken care of everything she needed to for her apartment the week before. She’d found someone to cover for her at the DressHer disadvantaged women’s location where she spent most of her time, and her personal shopping clients were aware she was on vacation for a week. One of the perks of working for herself. Time off whenever she wanted.
As soon as the car took off, she pulled her makeup bag out of her purse. Some base powder and a little eyeshadow brightened her face a bit. Things were going okay until she went for the eyeliner.
The liner went on in a nice, even line. Until the car hit a pothole. Her hand jerked, leaving her with an inch-long black line shooting out from her eyelid.
“Sorry, ma’am,” Tim said.
It wasn’t okay. But it wasn’t his fault she’d decided to do her makeup in the car.
The theme song from “Game of Thrones” rang from her purse and Cherice sighed, the little ball of dread in her stomach growing bigger.
She fumbled her phone out of her purse.
“Cherice. Are you at the airport?”
Cherice took a deep breath. She wasn’t even in New York yet and she was already going to piss off her mother.
“I’m on my way.”
A faint sigh echoed from the phone. “You should always leave yourself at least two hours to go through security.”
“I know. I meant to but—”
“It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you don’t miss your flight. I hope the weather won’t be an issue.” Her mother sighed. “Of all the weekends to have a summer storm.”
“Is it causing problems up there?”
“Not for me, so far. But with the reception outdoors, even with the tent, anything more than a light drizzle could be a disaster. I had to pull a lot of strings to get this wedding in the Times. I’ll never live it down if it’s not perfect.”
“I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful, Mom.”
“Yes. Well. Just be sure you get here on time. The rehearsal dinner is this evening. You are part of the wedding party. Your absence will be noted.”
Cherice winced, breathing past the guilt and hurt feelings that were a normal part of conversations with her mother. Her absence would be noted, not because they’d actually miss her but because she’d throw off the balance of the perfectly organized wedding party. Not that she blamed her mom for wanting everything to go off without a hitch. The vultures her mother called friends really would torture her with it for the rest of her life if anything went wrong.
“I’ll be there.”
“I hope so. Oh, the journalist who is writing the feature is here. I must run.”
The phone clicked before she could say goodbye.
She dropped her phone back in her purse. Her mom was always short with her, but Cherice didn’t think it was personal. The woman was just…supremely efficient…and insanely busy. Always. Especially with her sister’s wedding a day away. But once in a while, it’d be nice if her mother would call her just to talk to her, not chastise her for some mistake she hadn’t even made yet.
With a sigh, Cherice cleaned up her face. Thankfully, she managed to apply the rest of her makeup without any further complication. Her necklace and bracelets went on last. There. Perfectly presentable. Even her mother couldn’t complain.
Her leg bounced all the way to the airport and it took a Herculean effort not to chew her nails to the quick. She’d blown off Thanksgiving, had just barely made Christmas (two days), and ditched New Year’s entirely. She’d also pretended she was sick for Easter. If she missed her sister’s wedding she’d be disowned. And that wasn’t an exaggeration.
Cherice was already the black sheep without ruining what was supposed to be one of
social events of the year. She didn’t have an important job, she wasn’t in school anymore, since her abysmal
s had pretty much derailed her medical career, and she wasn’t involved in some illustrious relationship. Therefore, she had no justifiable reason to mess up her mother’s flawless plans.
“Are you okay, ma’am?” Tim asked.
Cherice made an effort to stop her leg from bouncing and smiled at him. “I’m fine, thanks. Going up to New York to visit my family and I’m just a little nervous.”
“Afraid of flying?”
She laughed. “No. Afraid of my family.”
He grinned at her in the rear view mirror. “They can’t be that bad.”
“You’d be surprised,” she said. “My sister is getting married this weekend and my mother is in full meltdown mode.”
He shook his head. “I sympathize. My oldest daughter was just married a few months ago. My wife was…” He laughed. “Let’s just say I was very happy when the wedding was over.”
“Good to know my family isn’t the only one that goes crazy over weddings.”
“It would be weird if they didn’t.”
The car pulled up outside the airport and Tim came around to unload her bag and open her door. Cherice had already paid for the car service, but she handed him a generous tip.
“Any advice for how to survive this weekend?”
Tim grinned. “Keep your head down, stay out of their way, do everything you’re told to do quickly and without argument.”
Cherice laughed. “I’ll do my best.”
“Don’t worry. As soon as it’s over they’ll be back to normal.”
“Ah, I was feeling better until you said that. Normal isn’t really an improvement.”
He tipped his hat to her. “Good luck, ma’am.”
She grabbed her things, gave Tim one last grateful smile, and ran. Well, she walked. Briskly. Running in public would create a scene and that wasn’t something Debussheres did. Besides, she didn’t want to find out how well her Jimmy Choos fared at high speeds on pockmarked sidewalks.
Cherice barreled into the building and headed straight for security, cell phone in hand and her ID ready, but pulled up short when she saw the winding line in front of her. Were there even enough people in her town, let alone flying out this morning, to create such a ridiculous line? She absolutely couldn’t miss her flight. But as long as nothing else went wrong, she should be fine. She hoped.
Cherice sent up a quick prayer that for once in her life she’d get lucky.
Nathaniel Oserkowski threw a few pairs of jeans, a couple T-shirts, and the other basics into a suitcase. The only items he bothered folding were a pair of slacks and a nice, white polo shirt.
“Oz, you can’t pack your stuff like that. Everything will get wrinkled.”
His sister, Lena, took everything out and started to neatly fold and repack.
“The only things I care about getting wrinkled are my interview clothes and I folded those.”
She rolled her eyes and kept packing, pausing only to tell her five-year-old son, Tyler, to quit jumping on the bed.
The little boy bounced onto his butt and propped his chin in his hands, his elbows resting on his knees.
“You going away, Uncle Oz?”
“Yep, but just for a few days. I’ll be back before you even miss me.”
Oz’s heartstrings tugged and he scooped his nephew up. “I promise.” He kissed the top of his head and dropped him back to the bed.
“All right, you two,” Lena said. “We’ve got to get Uncle Oz to the airport. You have everything?” she asked him.
He sighed. He loved his sister but sometimes she acted way too much like his mother. “Yes, Lenny.”
She chucked a pair of balled up socks at his head. “You’re such an ass.”
He grinned at her and zipped up his suitcase.
“You got someone to cover your paper route, right?” she asked.
“Yes. And before you ask, I’m using my vacation days for the garage and one of the other janitors at the university is going to cover for me this weekend.”
Lena frowned. “Well, hopefully you’ll be coming home with a brand new job and you can quit all the rest of them.”
Ah man. From her lips to God’s ears. When his sister had kicked her good-for-nothing boyfriend out, opting to raise their baby on her own rather than let the jerk stay in their lives, there hadn’t been a question of what Oz would do. He’d found a small house, quit school, and worked as many jobs as he needed to keep the bills paid.
Sure, he had moments where he missed the kind of life he might have had, but he didn’t regret his choice to take care of his family for a single second.
Lena chipped in when she could. When she’d moved in, they’d made the decision that she’d stay home with Tyler until he was in school full-time. She’d been trying for years to start some sort of business. Some with more success than others. A lot of her ideas tended to be too big in scale for her to pull off. Or just plain crazy to work. But, she did usually manage to bring in a couple hundred every month between her Etsy store and reselling things she found around town on eBay.
With Tyler getting ready to start kindergarten, Lena had been looking for a “real” job. Tyler’s school was looking for teacher aides, which would be perfect, since she’d be working the same hours he was in school. It didn’t pay great, but it’d be enough that Oz could probably quit his weekend janitor job.
If he could land the desk editor job, though… He’d be able to quit everything else
give Lena and Tyler the life they deserved. It was something he’d be able to do from home, to boot. He wasn’t sure what he’d do with all the spare time. All he knew was that it would be really, really nice not to have to spend every moment of every day working. He needed a break.
“Keep your fingers crossed,” he said.
“And my toes.”
“And my eyeballs!” Tyler chimed in.
“Thanks, buddy. I’m sure that will help.”
Lena grabbed her purse. “All right, boys! Load up!”
It took forty-five minutes to get to the airport, and by the time they arrived, Oz was in need of a few aspirin and a good long nap. His nephew was the light of his life, but being trapped in a car with an amped-up five-year-old was enough to drive anyone to pharmaceutical intervention.
They parked in the short term lot and Oz raced Tyler to the entrance. Well, Tyler raced. Oz did his slow-mo runner routine. His and Lena’s dad had always done that when they were kids. Challenge them to a race or an arm wrestle match or something and then pretend that his muscles had disappeared so he couldn’t even hold up his arm or was stuck in molasses and could barely move his feet. Oz had always loved it. Tyler’s real dad wasn’t ever going to be in the picture but Oz tried his damndest to be the best father figure he could for his nephew.