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Driving Her Crazy(10)

By:Kira Archer

She stalked over to the row of chairs near the counter and flopped into one, her head dropping into her hands.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening. Just shoot me now. Seriously,” she mumbled, fully aware she looked like a crazy person and not giving a hamster’s furry hiney.

A pair of scuffed work boots appeared in her line of vision and she looked up.

Mr. Gorgeous Blue Eyes was invading her personal space. Her face was level with his stomach and his shirt did little to hide the solid body underneath. It wasn’t skin tight, by any means, but it did fit very, very well. His well-worn jeans rode low on his hips and she had a sudden vision of him padding around her apartment in nothing but those jeans, the corded muscles of his hips disappearing into the soft material. Her breath caught in her throat and she straightened in her chair, pulling her prim and proper manners about her like a shield.

“Can I help you?”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help overhear your phone call earlier…”

Cherice raised an eyebrow.

He had the grace to blush a little, though Cherice was positive the slight pink in his cheeks couldn’t touch the bright red in hers. He certainly wasn’t catching her at her best.

“Well, I’ve got to get to New York, too. Since I’ve got the last rental, I just thought, seeing as how we are going the same way…well, if you’d like a ride, I’d be happy to drive you.”

Relief flooded through her, followed almost immediately by suspicion. Why would a complete stranger want to be alone in a car with her for twelve hours?

“I’m totally trustworthy, I promise. It’s just a long way to drive on my own. Plus, I don’t see any point in leaving you stranded here when we’re going the same direction.”

Her face must still have been radiating Serial Killer Alert because he added, “Jennifer there has seen us together and has all my info so she could sic the cops on me if she needed to.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but that does make me feel a little better,” Cherice said, her mouth pulling into a half smile.

He laughed, his handsome features radiating Good Guy. He seemed normal enough. He had a wife and child, so he was probably safe. And it was only twelve hours, less than a day. It suddenly seemed a lot shorter since she wouldn’t have to drive. If she tried to drive herself she’d probably end up lost or dead, anyway. Not that she had a choice. Her only other option was probably the bus, if one was even running. She grimaced at the thought. She’d rather skip the trip entirely and face her mother, and that was saying something.

“All right,” she said, lifting her chin. “You’ve got yourself a car mate.”

Chapter Four

Judging by the look on her face, the woman would rather crawl to New York City on her knees than ride in a car with him, so Oz was kind of surprised she agreed. He hadn’t missed the quick perusal she’d done of him while she’d been making up her mind. Oh, part of her, at least, had liked what she’d seen. There’d been a little spark in her tawny eyes, a little hitch in her breath. He knew very well what happened when a woman liked what she saw, and they generally did when they saw him. He wasn’t conceited, but he knew he looked good. Long hours of hard work tended to whip a guy’s muscles into shape.

He’d seen those looks from women before. But behind the flash of heat in their eyes, there was the disdain. The slight nose wrinkle at the grease stains he’d never be able to get totally out from under his nails. The quick calculation of his net worth going by the worn jeans and cheap T-shirt he wore. The pampered princess in front of him was no different. He was good enough to perform whatever service she required, but the way she grimaced and jutted her chin said that was all he’d ever be good for.

It stung. It always did. But he wasn’t one to let his emotions off the leash so he slapped a grin on his face and stuck his hand out.

“I’m Oz, by the way.”

“Oz?” She took his hand, her fingers curling into the warmth of his. She left her hand in his longer than was strictly polite, then withdrew them quickly like she realized what she’d done. “Were your parents’ fans of The Wizard of Oz or something?”

His laugh boomed out. “Naw. My real name is Nathaniel Oserkowski. Kind of a mouthful. Oz suits me better.”

She blinked at him and opened her mouth like she was going to respond to that. Then she gave her head a little shake. “I’m Cherice Buchanan Debusshere. Nice to meet you.”

Oz blinked at her. “Wow. That’s quite a name you got there.”

She straightened her shoulders, her face flushing slightly. “They’re family names.”