he WMNS lobby was nuts, people everywhere . . . like Grand Central Station, but that was a good thing. More people, less chance of being noticed. Several businessmen in suits glanced curiously at me, some with pity at my obvious lack of fashion sense. If I got one more gawk, I was going to lift my middle finger.
Shit, that’s probably not in my best interest. Do not draw attention . . .
I suppose the hat-turtleneck-face-covering style statement was a little unusual. I wrestled a tiny bit with my vanity. I knew I looked like a freak, but the choice between fashion victim and inmate was a no-brainer.
The sickeningly familiar lobby was enormous. The ceiling rose about five stories up and a fountain dominated the center of the room. Very modern, very stark. Not very Minnesota. There were two fancy restaurants and a coffee shop that was kind of a dive. I quickly hustled past the coffee shop. I knew all the guys who worked there. We’d become buds during my monthlong disastrous attempt to become the Sunshine Weather Girl. They were the cutest, hairiest little men I’d ever had the pleasure to know. My buddies had been pulling for me to get the job and were possibly more devastated than I was at my arrest. All I needed was for one of them to run out here, recognize me, and scream my name. There was a gymnastics meet going on in my stomach and my mouth felt like the Sahara Dessert.
I could do this . . . head down, deliver package, get receipt, get the fuck out. The receipt part was worrisome; I didn’t want to make eye contact. In the car on the way over I practiced accents. My New York sounded like a mentally challenged woman—that was out. My Southern sounded equally horrific, so I decided on British. It was bad, but not quite as bad as my German. My Italian was pretty good, but in order to do it well, I had to do it loud and use tons of gestures. I figured that would draw too much attention. All my accents sounded a little off due to my turtleneck-covered mouth, but that couldn’t be helped.
After bashing into eight people, I realized keeping my eyes glued to the floor was a bad idea. I covertly glanced around, looking for security . . . not a one. Thank you, Jesus. Just regular people, working and minding their own business. The preppy business guys, the twentysomething gals with short skirts, pantyhose, and stilettos flanked by the fortysomething gals in pants, sensible flats, and big bunions from their own high-heel-wearing twenties. Just normal, everyday, boring, run of the mill . . . Holy Mother of God!
is not normal.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Ten feet away stood the most beautiful man I’d ever seen in my life. More beautiful than my new neighbor, Mr. Fine-ass. I felt light-headed and realized I’d ceased to breathe. Sandy blond hair, full lips, eyelashes that belonged on a girl, and a build like a brick shithouse. He didn’t fit in here. His jeans and dark gray T-shirt covered by a rockin’ black leather bomber were hotter than hot. He was holding a folder and kept glancing at it. No ring on his left hand. Aces! He looked about thirty-five or so. Absolutely perfect. With my luck he was probably gay.
What the hell was wrong with me? I wasn’t here to pick up guys. I was here trying not to get arrested. My brain knew that, but all my girlie parts were screaming something else entirely. There was no security guard in sight . . . maybe, just maybe . . . No, absolutely not. I couldn’t take the chance of going back to jail. It wasn’t a parking violation; it was a restraining order, for shit’s sake. But if I didn’t show myself, there was no way my future husband would notice me. I was covered up like a fashion-impaired nun. Maybe I could remove the disguise just for a minute . . . make eye contact, ask him to marry me, and then finish what I came for. No, wait, maybe I’d deliver the package first and then tackle him to the ground and have my way with him . . . No, wait, what if he left while I was delivering the goods? And what if I got arrested before he noticed I was alive? Jesus Christ, I needed to get laid. This was the second stranger I’d considered marrying in two days and I’d only seen the other one’s butt.
Damn it, damn it, damn it. The tingling in my nether regions was fogging my brain and self-preservation skills. What if he was my soul mate and I walked away and ended up a shriveled old sex-starved maid? What if I was denying myself the best, most mind-blowing orgasms imaginable? What if I revealed myself and he didn’t like me and some undercover security dork arrested my ass? Or what if he fell instantly in love with me and the same said security dork from the previous scenario came up and arrested my ass?
What was happening to me? Had I jumped into the deep end of my own cheesy romance novel? I felt squooshy and short of breath. My lady bits were on fire, and I might possibly be in heat. I didn’t even know this hunka hunka burning love . . . I hadn’t made eye contact, yet I was picking out china patterns in my head. WTF? Was love at first sight real? I hadn’t been this whipped up about a man in . . . well, ever. That wasn’t exactly true, I had been fixated on my neighbor’s ass since I’d seen it with Shoshanna, but he could be ugly or married. This one was hot, and wasn’t wearing a ring . . . I was going to go for it. I would not go through my life wondering what if . . .
In a move of gargantuan stupidity, I peeled my turtleneck off my mouth, yanked the hat off my head, and let my long, naturally (eat that, Jenny) blond hair spill over my shoulders. I considered taking off my coat to show my boyfriend my fine derriere, but my hat in one hand and the package in the other made that move an impossibility. Of course I did unzip my coat to reveal my frontal assets. I mean, if you’re gonna go there, you may as well go.
My heart thundered in my ears as I moved toward my intended. I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame, like Simon to Garfunkel, like my Uncle Sven to a case of beer . . . Crap, I feared what would fly from my lips when I spoke to him.
Who cares? I promise I will refrain from potty words till the third date. Lethimlikeme, lethimlikeme, lethimlikeme. I swear to everything chocolate, I will love him, cherish him, and have sex with him on a daily basis, but I won’t pick up his dirty socks and underwear. Oh, and I’ll occasionally cook, but I’d prefer to eat out.
I took a deep breath and moved stealthily toward my lover. A sense of urgency drove me toward him . . . Just as I was about to ask for his hand in marriage or, at the very least, a quickie, he looked at me.
And the world stopped.
Holy Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Robert Redford (when he was young). My husband-to-be was H-O-T, hot. His eyes were the most gorgeous blue gray. The chemistry that burned between us was palpable and my entire body felt steamy hot. He stared at me and my heart began to hammer in my chest. His eyes traveled from my head to my toes, lingering briefly on my bazooms. I had never been so turned on in my life. I fought an overwhelming need to body slam him and shove my tongue down his throat. Thankfully he seemed to be having the same issues. His body language implied he would happily be my sex slave.
“Hi there,” Mr. Sex-on-a-Stick said in a husky voice that made my knees buckle. He grabbed my hand to balance me, and I swear electricity shot up my arm. The left side of his mouth curved into the hottest crooked grin I’d ever seen. I was a goner . . .
“Hi yourself,” I giggled. Really? Did I really just giggle? Shit. “I just saw you and I, um . . . was wondering if you, well, you know . . . um . . .” Eloquent much?
“Can I help you out there?” he laughed.
Christ, he was even hotter when he laughed. “Um, yes. English seems to be my fourth language today.”
“Well in that case, you’re doing pretty good.” He smiled, watching my mouth intently. My tongue darted out to lick my dry lips and his smile grew wider.
“Do you work here?” I asked, putting my best flirt on.
In a move that I knew looked good on me, I went to flip my hair and somehow nailed myself in the cheek with the package. Dang it, not smooth.
Shit—the package. I quickly scanned the area for security. Nothing.
“You okay?” Mr. Hotpants asked, gently running his fingers across my cheekbone. More electricity shot through my body, and I leaned into his hand.
I am no ho-bag, but I’d never been so taken with someone in my thirty years. Time to get down to business. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I narrowed my eyes and assessed him.
“Nope,” I grinned. “Married?”
“Absolutely not. Never have been.”
His closeness was like a drug. He smelled beyond delicious, like clean laundry and soap and man. I was very close to asking him to marry me, but I wasn’t quite done with my interrogation.
“How long was your longest relationship?” I asked. No way could he father my two unborn children if he had commitment problems.
“A year and a half. She left me for another guy.”
Was she on crack? “Mine was two years. He was more into his job than me.”
“Stupid man, but hopefully his loss will be my gain.”
Oh. My. God.
“I don’t want to be forward”—he tilted his head to the side, his breathtaking gaze bored sexily into mine—“but can I buy you a cup of . . .” He trailed off. His eyes got wide and he appeared to have swallowed a lemon. “Oh, hell no,” he muttered, looking down at his folder. “Please tell me your name isn’t Rena Gunderschlict.”
Panic like I’d never known rushed through me. I had no idea why he didn’t want me to be me, but I had a bad feeling I was about to find out . . . and I wasn’t going to like it.
“Why?” My voice seemed to be coming from a hundred miles away.
“Just please tell me you’re not Rena.”
“I can’t,” I whispered.
He looked up to the heavens and ran his big hand through his hair. As terrified as I was, I was jealous of his hand. I wanted my hands in his hair, but as much as I wanted that, my instinct told me to run. Something was off . . . very off.
Still staring at the ceiling, he muttered, “Goddamn it, I hate my job.”
“Are you okay?” I asked. I knew I truly loved him, or at least seriously lusted him, when I actually forgot about my own impending shit storm and worried about his.
This time when his eyes met mine they were mortified and apologetic. Apprehension swept through me and a lead weight settled in my stomach. He slowly pushed back his bomber jacket and revealed a badge . . . and a gun. “Rena Gunderschlict, I’m placing you under arrest for breaking your restraining order. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights?” I mutely nodded my head as the love of my life continued to rip my heart out. “I don’t want to handcuff you, so please follow me out to my vehicle.”
Of course he was a cop . . . Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
My walk of shame was compounded by my little hairy friends from the coffee shop. Vito and Angelo spotted me and the hunk who was about to ruin my life.
“Rena!” Vito screamed, shoving startled customers out of the way to get to me. Mr. Hottie’s hand went to his gun.
“They’re my friends,” I quickly interjected before he blew two sixty-year-old little hairy guys away for no reason.
Vito, with Angelo on his heels, ran to me like an excited puppy. God, I’d missed them.
“Did you finally get the weather girl job?” Vito screeched, squishing my face. “I made white chocolate apricot scones this morning. You will come in and have one,” he demanded.
Angelo smiled slyly. “Looks like our little girl has something to tell us.” He nudged Vito and started winking repeatedly at what he assumed to be my new man friend.
“Um, guys, I can’t hang right now. I’m a little busy.”
“Did you get the job?” Angelo asked, still winking obscenely at the cop who he clearly thought was my boyfriend. I wish.
“No, I didn’t get the job.”
“Ba Fongool to the slut they hired. I spit in her coffee every day,” Vito informed me and anyone within a hundred feet. This was a new kind of loyalty. Kind of gross, but kind of great.
“Guys,” I whispered, nodding surreptitiously to the freedom-destroying sexy bastard standing next to me, “I’m actually under arrest.”
“Again?” Angelo gasped. He quit winking at my boyfriend and gave him the evil eye.
“Shame on you, big man,” Vito hissed. “She is no criminal! Have you seen her ass?”
Oh. My. God.
“Rena”—Angelo cut Vito off before he started waxing nostalgic about my other body parts—“did you break the law?”
“Kind of,” I muttered, “but it wasn’t my fault this time.”
“Did you hear that, Mr. Big-Meany-Police-Man? It is not her fault! No one who has a rack as stupendous as she does should ever be arrested,” Angelo concluded, making me want to die.
“Um . . . guys, you’re not really helping here.” I stole a quick glance at Mr. Big-Meany-Police-Man, who to my shock seemed amused.
Angelo stood up to his full five-foot-two height. “Rena, do you want me to kick his ass?”