I thought this part of my life was over. Even though the restraining order against my father expired years ago, I wasn’t expecting him to show up in my life again. I had no idea the mysterious man that stands at the river’s edge would be the one to defend me. After one night in Everest’s protection, the idea was for us to go our separate ways. Instead, my life gets turned upside down and now I want more than just his safety. I want his scarred heart, too.
Don’t make other people’s problems your own. I learned long ago to keep my head down and my eyes pointed at the road ahead. But trying to ignore the beautiful woman at the park isn’t just difficult. It’s impossible. When I find out she’s in danger, not only do I make her problem mine, keeping her safe becomes my priority. Falling for Danielle wasn’t part of the plan. And now, it could take me down faster than any undertow.
I was taught how to do this a long time ago, but I’ve never actually had to do it by myself before. I grunt and groan as I try to loosen the lug nuts to no avail.
“I’ll do it.” At the sound of the deep voice, my hands slip from the wrench and I nearly hit my forehead on the car. Who in their right mind would walk up to a woman and startle her like that? I don’t bother looking up and continue to struggle with the nuts.
“Have you ever seen what a lug wrench can do to the human skull?” I ask. If I’m going to get killed, it will be because of my damn mouth.
“You don’t want to know what I’ve seen.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” The muscles in my face tighten as I strain against the wrench again.
“Wow. You’re a peach. Step aside. I’ll do it.”
The audacity. I spin my head around only to be confronted with the man. The man. Statue man. And he’s just as intimidating up close as he is far away. He rubs his scruff on his jawline before sliding his hand through his short brown hair.
“I…uh…” Stumbling over your words, Dani? Don’t show weakness. I clear my throat and stand as tall as I can. Though my tallest stretch has nothing on his towering stature. “I can change a damn tire. I can do a lot of…things.” Jesus.
His right eyebrow raises, and a smirk crosses his face. He pivots on a heel and walks back to the parking lot. I push hard on the lug wrench as the roar of an engine comes close, then purrs to a halt right behind my car. I glance over my shoulder as statue man walks to the front of his black Challenger and leans against the hood. With his leather jacket no longer in sight, his black T-shirt reveals his forearm muscles bulging amongst the protruding veins as he crosses his arms across his chest. It’s hard not to stare. Or drool.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Position the lug wrench so you can step on it.”
“For small asses like you, you’ll need to put all your weight on that wrench to get those off. Or I could just do it and we can both go home.”
I sarcastically laugh as I listen to his tip and position the wrench so that I can step on it. “You can go home. I’m a big girl, and I can change my own goddamn tire.”
“Okay, Peach. Change it.”
“I will.” He narrows his eyes and waves his hand toward the tire. “You can leave.”
“I ain’t leavin’.”
“Have you looked around?”
I glance at the empty parking lot and the stillness of nightfall in the trees. I groan and turn back to the tire, working faster at loosening the nuts. I guess I can appreciate that he’s making sure I’m safe out here. I’m always a little on edge when it comes to men. For good reason. But I don’t think he deserved my attitude.
I push my hair nervously behind my ear. “I’m sorry. You’re just trying to help.”
Statue man stays against his car while I work on changing the tire. Every time I risk a glance at him, he isn’t watching me. His attention seems to be on the area around us. He tosses out a few more verbal instructions before I tug on the wrench and tighten the last nut on the spare. I lower the jack slowly, and his black shoes appear on the ground next to me.
“You did it,” he says.
Standing, I pick up the jack. “Did you think I couldn’t?”
“If I didn’t think you could do it, I would have pushed harder to do it myself.”
I try to hide the bashful smile I can’t control. “Thanks for the tips.”
“You’re welcome, Peach.”
When not writing until all hours of the night (with lots of late night coffee runs), she loves to read books that feature a strong male with a soft spot for his feisty heroine. She prefers stories that rip your heart out completely, then kindly place it back into your chest with a HEA.
She lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, two kids, and some spoiled rotten animals.