Case Kelly has everything he’s ever wanted: a new bike, and a Storm Crows patch. But instead of chasing human traffickers with his charter, Case gets stuck baby-sitting Joker’s ol’ lady, an obnoxious Prospect, and the hottest, most annoying woman in the universe. Jenna Gillespie is snide, sarcastic, and perfect. If she’d just stop yelling at him. And then they get to Burning Man.
On the Playa, Case accepts an unexpected truce with Jenna. And more. Between photoshoots and stolen kisses, he glimpses the broken heart that Jenna’s so desperate to hide. If only he understood what broke it. But the closer he gets to the secret, the further Jenna runs. Can Case catch up in time and convince Jenna to trust him with her heart? It's a tactical nightmare. But if there’s one thing Storm Crows know how to do, it’s win an impossible battle.
Thursdays. Never can get the hang of fucking Thursdays.
He did a double-take and froze three feet from the door. She stood, silhouetted in the fading light, dressed in shorts showing off legs men would kill to have wrapped around them, and a flowy top that hugged her curves in all the right places, especially her breasts. They weren’t large, but enough to … heave. Definitely. Aw, shit. Her wide, glassy eyes shone with fresh tears, her lips parted to suck in the air, her face flushed.
“Hey,” he said softly, taking a step toward her. “What’s wrong? You okay?”
She jumped at his approach, straightening up like he wouldn’t notice she’d been half-collapsed against her SUV’s fender. “Yes. I’m fine. Sorry, I—” She lifted her phone, her bright gaze—damn near the same color as the sky—flicked to the screen, and he’d have sworn in court they actually dimmed. “I’m not? I’m such… I’m so sorry. I can’t believe this is real life. Do you, um, have a phone that works here? I’m out of service, I think? And gas. And I don’t have cash, and I—I think I’ve stumbled back to 1975…”
He bit his lip to keep from chuckling. “Yeah. I can see how you get that vibe.” He stepped around the pump since she didn’t seem like she’d take off running, but he kept his approach slow just in case. “Service is shitty out here, but I can help you with some of those other things. I have some cash. How much do you need?”
Her already big eyes somehow expanded. “I … have no idea? How do you even put it in?”
He grimaced. So many ways to answer that, and yet… “How do you—?” He looked between her and the pump. City girl, country gadget. “Not from around here, huh?” He grinned and reached for the nozzle. “Let me help. How much money do you want to put into it? Keep in mind, Carson only takes gold coins. Or fur in the winter months.”
Her full lips parted, a model-perfect expression caught between confusion and horror. “You aren’t—” The hint of a smile lit her face up once more. Bet those lips taste as sweet as she looks. “Listen, this day has been so many levels of crappy that I’m not sure I can detect sarcasm right now.” Yet her soft voice was almost laughing.
“I think you did a pretty good job. But that ain’t an answer.”
“Because that leads us to the other problem. No cash or coins. And mom’s furs are in storage in Kansas.”
Despite the amount of crap in his day, he didn’t detect sarcasm. He lifted a brow. Maybe she didn’t like accepting money from strangers? It made sense. He didn’t either. “I’ll put twenty in. That should safely get you to a gas station with card readers.” He moved around her so he could reach the tank, trying to ignore the whiff of flowery perfume under the station’s usual gas and grease scent.
“Oh, no. I couldn’t. I—” She stopped with a groan. “I don’t even have another option here, do I? Wow. Worst bridesmaid trip ever.” Her flawless forehead creased. “I can’t take cash from a stranger, no matter how kind. I’ll pay you back. I’m heading to like, uh, Elm Wood? Or Oak Stall? Something. Google knows. If you’re from around here, I can drop it by your office?”
What part of my raggedy ass on a Harley screams ‘office guy,’ sweetheart? He couldn’t keep the laughter back. “I’m from Oak Grove. Slightly south of Oak Stall,” he said, hiding his smile with a shrugged shoulder.
“Right. Grove.” Her cheeks flared pink, and she ducked her head before pushing her dark hair over her shoulder. Does she know how fucking beautiful that makes her? She has to, right?
“But don’t worry about paying me back. You aren’t technically taking my money if I never hand it to you.”
“Thank you, Mister…?”
He caught himself smiling again. “Case. Just Case. And it’s no trouble at all, ma’am.”
“Jenna.” Her worried gaze met his. “I’m sure it’s plenty of trouble, Case. Though maybe not by your usual measurements.” She touched her cheek, mirroring where his own day-old cut still stung. An unfamiliar pang hit his chest.
The day I meet the hottest girl in the goddamn world, I look like a hobo after Fleet Week. His lips formed a tight line, and he rubbed his stubble with a gentle hand. “Used to it.” When he caught the question in her eyes, he quickly added, “Work at a garage. It’s hands-on, and bruises ain’t easy to avoid. This was me just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Not a lie. Ice and a falling sledgehammer probably have about the same outcome.
“Heck of a wrong time.” Jenna glanced at the gas pump’s scrolling numbers. “Maybe we’ll both get a redo on this week.” Her teeth caught her lower lip. “I’ve got some bottled water in the car, if you need a drink?”
Yes. But water ain’t it.