Six-foot plus, blond Adonis types did not ask Alex on dates. So when JJ Vanzant did just that, it made her suspicious and snippy. What did he—in all his sexy glory—want with a run-down single mother of two who was currently unemployed? What she needed was a job, not a fling. Unfortunately, the best and only job available was at his private detective agency. His ego would just have to take the rejection because she’d been hired and was going nowhere.
JJ didn’t know if he’d been blessed or cursed when Alex showed up in his office, but she couldn’t stay there. So his friend, Nance, was tasked with finding her another job. Meanwhile, all he had to do was keep his hands off her…which proved damn near impossible. In the time it takes for him to fall for the dark-haired minx, he would have to help her keep custody of her two adorable boys. But what will happen if she doesn’t need him anymore? Will his heart get broken like it was when he was a child?
JJ stepped into the kitchen of Viv Wilder’s home and faltered momentarily at the sight of a pretty brunette rinsing dishes at the sink. With the water running to mask the sound of his footsteps, he was able to study her thoroughly before she noticed his presence. She was petite, about five-five, and he figured she’d weigh no more than a hundred pounds sopping wet. Her coal-black hair was curly and tumbled just past narrow shoulders.
His gaze wandered to a curvy bottom encased in well-worn jeans, perhaps not as curvy as he suspected it would be if she gained a little weight. She appeared too slim even for such a small person, her fine bone structure a tad too pronounced in the glimpse he’d been given of her delicate wrists as she twisted a cup under cascading water.
The sweatshirt bagging haphazardly around her hips was faded to a dull navy, its material having obviously seen the inside of a washing machine more times than it was meant to.
His detailed perusal was threatened to be cut short when she shut off the tap and dried her hands on a towel. She had turned slightly toward him, and he traced her profile with an avid gaze. Her brow was creased in concentration, and her finely arched eyebrow twitched as it seemed to be tickled by a stray ringlet. Her long, dark lashes were lowered against high cheekbones that were a touch too prominent in her lovely face.
Desire shot through him when she unconsciously wet almost-red lips, her pink tongue tracing the fullness of the lower one. Her mouth would be soft to kiss and generous in a smile, but he had a feeling she rarely laughed.
He struggled to contain his shocking arousal, glad that his bulging fly was hidden by his own shapeless sweatshirt. He’d been months without female companionship, which was the only explanation for this sudden itch to grab a complete stranger and kiss the living daylights out of her.
Petite brunettes were not his type. He liked his women blonde and long in the leg. Or he had, until this enchanting entity turned the full force of her gaze on him and he realized what he’d been missing.
She took a step back and gripped the edge of the counter. The most beautiful brown eyes JJ had ever seen widened in surprise, thickly fringed with black lashes. He could drown in those eyes.
JJ snapped out of his trance when she blinked, clearing his throat to let some air pass. He set his load down on the table and remembered why he was there.
“Sorry to startle you,” he said gruffly. “I’m installing Viv’s security system.” He waved a big hand at the box he’d carried in before shoving it through his blond hair. Was he ever nervous around women? No. He kicked himself for acting like a schoolboy.
“Oh,” said the vision, her shoulders relaxing. “You’re JJ Vanzant, the private investigator.” She extended a small hand which was engulfed in his. “I’m Alex Manning. I live up the street.”
Dumbly, he nodded and reluctantly released her. “Nice to meet you,” his mouth obediently told her. “I’ll try not to get in your way while I’m here.”
“That’s fine. I’m about ready to leave anyway.” Her lips quirked into a semblance of a smile, and he was fascinated by it. Alex shuffled her feet awkwardly. “You’re staring.”
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, heat racing up his neck. “You’re quite beautiful.” He darted his attention to her ring finger, relieved to find it bare.
Alex’s hand fluttered to her hair, her lips parting on a stunned gasp. “That’s very polite of you, considering the state I’m in.”
“I’m not being polite. In fact,” he swallowed, not believing his nerve, “I was wondering if you’re not too busy this weekend—maybe you’d like to go out somewhere?”
Something in her expression changed, hardened. “You’re joking, right?”
“Certainly not.” He was confused by her reaction, her stance becoming defensive as she folded thin arms. It was only a casual invitation, but she glared a fair bit over it. Mentally, he whistled, thinking it was a good thing she didn’t know what was happening in the nether regions of his anatomy. She’d likely deck him.
“I am busy, actually.” She grabbed her denim jacket and hurriedly shrugged into it as Viv entered the room.
Viv introduced her to JJ’s university buddy, Jonas Mackenzie, before Alex scuttled out the back door claiming she had to rush home to her sick mother.
Whew! You’ll have to brush up on your social skills, Vanzant.
That was the oddest reaction he’d garnered from a woman in his adult life. Usually, he got a little consideration on the matter before being turned down. He doubted her mother was ill at all. His boldness must have spooked her into fibbing that excuse and making tracks.
Viv was still frowning worriedly after seeing Jonas off to work. JJ had sensed his friend was becoming involved with the striking blonde woman, an association he applauded wholeheartedly.
After telling Viv he may have insulted her friend by asking her out, he proceeded to set a sensor on the window casing. His gaze rested on the closed gate outside that Alex had disappeared through, and he grimly wondered what he’d said to upset her. Of course, perhaps she just found his interest too forward and downright rude, as he’d assumed—or maybe he wasn’t her type at all.
“She’s had a rough time of it lately.” Viv’s soothing tone placated his bruised ego somewhat, allowing him to get back to what he was doing.