Home > All Things Pretty (Pretty #3)

All Things Pretty (Pretty #3)
Author: M. Leighton


The little thingy on the end of the jack slips off the lug nut and I smash my finger against the hot pavement. Again. I resist the urge to stick my throbbing middle finger into my mouth and I swallow the curse that’s swelling in my throat. Don’t cuss! Don’t cuss! I’m like a well-trained dog these days. I act just right, dress just right, talk just right. I’m all about appearances. I have to be. Lance demands it. And I need Lance, so I play ball.

I wipe the back of my hand across my damp forehead and try again. Just one more nut, just one more. I sigh in relief when I put all one hundred and twenty eight pounds of my body weight on the car jack and the stubborn lug gives. I unscrew it and pull off the flat tire, rolling it over to lean up against the back fender of my car. Dusting off my hands, I check my nails to make sure none are broken –God forbid I show up for drinks with a gnarly manicure– as I walk to the trunk to remove my full-sized spare.

After I manhandle it out of its little cubby beneath a false panel in the back of my car, I let it drop onto the asphalt, thinking I’ll roll it into position. And that would’ve worked just fine if my spare weren’t flat, too.

“Noooo!” I cry aloud.

Oh for the love of god! Are you kidding me?

I start to get frantic as I glance at my watch again. At this rate, I’ll never have time to change and then make it to the hotel on time. But if I show up dressed like this, I’ll never hear the end of it. I know better than to wear things like these shorts and this tank top, but sometimes I just can’t resist feeling just a tiny bit like me. The me that I used to be. The me that I still am, under everything else.

“Why didn’t you accept help when it was offered, Tommi?” I mutter, eyes closed, face turned up toward the sky.

Being a blonde female stranded on the side of the road isn’t always a bad thing. Thankfully, it usually draws a lot of men who are more than willing to be the hero and save the poor damsel in distress. This time was no different, only I politely turned each of them away. I mean, most of them were creepy and I am stranded out here alone. Not the smartest thing. So now, here I am. Stuck. Hero-less, helpless, and frustrated.

“It’s not too late, ya know,” an incredibly pleasant, amused voice says from behind me.

Startled, I yelp and whirl around. There’s a darkly handsome man standing behind me. He’s so close and so tall that I take a step back, tripping over my flat spare tire and nearly landing myself, butt first, in my own trunk. All my classy grooming goes right out the proverbial window as I flail to regain my balance. “Holy assmunch shitface!” I squeal in surprise.

Two big, strong hands reach for my bare upper arms to pull me upright and save me from a humiliating blunder. The electricity in his touch combined with his husky laugh causes chills to break out down my arms. Attraction vibrates along my nerve ends like tremors of an earthquake. “Part beautiful woman, part sailor. My kinda girl.”

Oh God, I think, embarrassed. But I quickly forget why when I get a good look at my rescuer.

I’m face to face with the most stunning guy I think I’ve ever seen–soft brown eyes that glisten in the dying sun like two chocolate diamonds, long black lashes that frame them like feathers, and a smile that threatens to melt me where I stand. Holy lord. And I have to look way up to see him, which is saying a lot because at five-nine, I’m a tall girl.

“Pardon the expression. Y-you scared me,” I stammer, curling my fingers around muscular forearms before I can think better of it. They flex beneath my fingertips as he holds me steady. We stand touching each other for several heated seconds. I know I should back up, protest, feign outrage, do something, but I can’t. As unwise as it is, I don’t want to do anything because I don’t want him to let me go.

“Don’t apologize. I love a woman who talks dirty.”

“That wasn’t dirty,” I defend weakly.

One sable brow arches inquisitively and I realize how bad that sounded. “So there’s more? Dirtier?”

Despite the oppressive heat, I feel a blush warm my cheeks. A blush! I can’t even remember the last time I blushed. I’ve seen and done things in my life that have desensitized me to the point that I would’ve sworn nothing could embarrass me. And yet here I am, blushing for a perfect (perfectly hot) stranger.

I take a shaky breath and smile, easing away from him as the danger of my situation finally dawns on me. This guy could mean to do me harm and I’m practically drooling all over his chest. His wide, hard, muscular chest.

I squeeze my eyes shut. God! Stop it, stop it, stop it!

“Are you okay?” Perfectly Hot Stranger asks, all playfulness gone from his voice.

Avoid eye contact.

When I crack my lids, I purposely look down at my dirty tank top, straightening it as I step out from between his impressive body and my open trunk. “I’m fine. I just…ummm…it’s pretty hot and, uh, I’m changing my tire. I’m just…hot. And tired. And…”

I back around the corner of my car, thinking that my purse and my phone are but a few steps away should I need them.

I watch as Perfectly Hot Stranger kicks my spare with the toe of his boot. “I hope this is the one you just took off.”

Oh crap! How could I forget my conundrum? I’ve got two flats!

I’m as deflated as my inner tubes as I watch him walk around to the other tire, noting its floppy side. “I’m Sig by the way,” he offers casually. He crosses his arms over his chest as he stands back to survey my predicament. “And it looks to me like you might need a tow.”

A tow. Yes! I race to the driver’s side and lean in for my cell phone, all too aware of my cut-off denim shorts and the way they’re riding up my legs as I stretch. I hurry back out, brandishing my iPhone like a weapon. “Yes! I need a tow. I’ll call now,” I say, trying to ignore the heat of his warm eyes as they unabashedly make their way up from my legs.

I start to search for a towing company, but instead, I just stare at the blank screen, knowing that my dilemma is much worse than this man assumes. If I get my car towed, I’ll need a ride into town, which means I’ll have to waste more time waiting for a cab to arrive. Then I’ll still have to stop to buy clothes so I can make it to drinks on time, which will put me even later, but at least I’ll be dressed appropriately. But either way, it’s lose-lose. I’ll be late and car-less. And Lance will be furious.

Long, tanned fingers cover mine and force my hands to drop a little lower. He bends until his face is in my line of sight. “Do you need some help? Because I stopped to help you. Nothing more.”

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