(An Under the Hood novella)
Blurb: Pretending to be a couple may drive them crazy.
Feisty mechanic Betty Smith should have only one thing on her mind—catching the conman who swindled her mother. Not the sexy stranger who kissed her then completely disappeared.
Undercover FBI agent Joe Carter needs to focus on the bad guy who got away, not the gorgeous headstrong brunette who watches too many cop shows and keeps interfering in his case. Unfortunately, catching their prey before he skips town means working together.
But while entering the vintage car rally as a couple seemed like a good idea at the time, faking feelings for each other turns out to be the easiest part. Neither one can allow anything to get in their way, but staying away from each other is impossible. They both know, though, once their plan is complete, so is their time together.
Betty’s heart pounded hard enough to burst. She swung around, and her startled gaze shot to the man who filled the doorway. A man with midnight-blue eyes.
Her hand fluttered at her throat. What on earth was the stranger from this morning doing here? Had he followed her?
“You’re Betty?” His eyes scanned her face with an I-don’t-believe-it look. He took a step forward, then another.
Everything in Betty rioted with the urge to escape. She eyed the doorway behind him and edged farther behind the table, putting solid pine between them. Her mouth was so dry it was as if she’d spent days crawling through the desert. He knows my name. She swallowed. “What are you doing here?”
“Calm down.” As if realizing her agitation, he stopped. Held up his hands palms-out. “I’m Joe Carter.”
“You’re Joe Carter?”
“Is there an echo in here?” His hands lowered to his sides. The tension seemed to leave his shoulders and the corners of his mouth lifted in a smile.
Smoothing a hand over her hair, she glanced down at the table. A funny, fluttery feeling on seeing that smile replaced the panic she’d felt moments earlier. Unwanted awareness of him chased the tension from her body and filled it with warmth.
She rubbed the ache blooming at her temple. “Very funny.” To her annoyance, her words came out husky-soft, rather than sarcasm-laced. “I’ve been waiting here for almost two hours for a carpenter to show up, and now you? If you’re Joe, what were you doing grabbing me this morning?”
He avoided the question and looked past her at the open freezer door. “Looks like you were keeping yourself busy. Raiding the freezer, were you?”
Huh. “I was hungry. Someone kept me waiting.” The only reason she would ever break into someone else’s freezer was under desperate circumstances. “What are you, carpenter or…”
“It’s complicated.” He smiled, and once again attraction grabbed her insides with both hands and twisted. “But I have got a job to do this evening before we talk. I’m hungry too.” A black eyebrow arched. “Maybe you and I could have dinner after I’ve assembled the bed?”
Faded jeans rode low on his lean hips and clung to his thighs. Above them, he wore a chunky navy sweater under a battered black leather jacket. Average, everyday clothing. But the breadth of his shoulders, the glimpse of tanned collarbone evident in the dip of the sweater’s crew neck, were far from average or everyday. She scanned down. Work boots. Big work boots. Big feet, big… Cutting that thought off at the pass, Betty’s gaze shot up to collide with his.
Amusement danced in his eyes. “Well? Like what you see?”
She is a full-time author, who lives in the Irish countryside, and when she isn’t writing can usually be found in traffic, driving ‘Mum’s taxi’.
Always a voracious reader, she considers writing for a living the perfect job—the only downside is saying goodbye to her characters at book’s end!
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