Read an ExcerptHANDYMAN
By JODI LYNN COPELAND APHRODISIA BOOKS Copyright © 2008 Jodi Lynn Copeland
All right reserved.
Chapter One Now, he was the kind of guy she needed to meet.
Parallel parked across the street from the Almost Family youth services building, Lissa Malone stopped examining her reflection in the vanity mirror of her Dodge Charger to watch the guy. He stood in front of the youth building, which was constructed of the same old-fashioned red brick as every other building in downtown Crichton, laughing with a lanky, longhaired blond kid in his early teens. The kid wouldn't be a relative, but a boy from the local community who was going through a rough patch and in need of an adult role model in the form of a foster friend.
Kind, caring, and considerate enough to be that friend, by donating his free time to the betterment of the kid's life, the guy was the antithesis of every man she'd dated.
Make that every straight man. And then again, he wasn't the complete opposite.
The way his faded blue Levi's hugged his tight ass and his biceps bulged from beneath the short sleeves of a slate gray T-shirt as he scruffed the kid's hair, the guy had as fine of a body as her recent lovers. What he wasn't likely to have was their badass hang-ups.
He was one of the good ones. A nice guy. The kind of guy Lissa had never gone for and never had any desire to.
There was something about those bad boys that called to her. Not just their bedside manner. Though she wasn't about to knock the red-hot thrill of being welcomed home from work by having her panties torn away and a stiff cock thrust inside her before she had a chance to say hello.
She shuddered with the memory of Haden, the brainless beefcake she ended up with following her latest dip in the badboy pool, greeting her precisely that way three weeks ago. What Haden lacked in mentality, he more than made up for in ability. The guy could make her come with the sound of his voice alone.
Show me that sweet pussy, Liss.
Haden's deep baritone slid through her mind, spiking her pulse and settling dampness between her thighs. She caught her reflection in the vanity mirror as she shifted in the driver's seat. Her cheeks had pinkened-an unmanageable tell to her arousal-calling out her too-many freckles.
Yeah, there was definitely something about those bad boys. Something she wouldn't be experiencing ever again.
Lissa wasn't the only woman Haden could bring to climax in seconds. As it turned out, she also wasn't the only woman he'd been bringing to climax the almost two months they dated. Really, it shouldn't have surprised her. With bad boys, something always ended up coming before her. Another woman. A massive ego. Or worst of all, the bad boy himself coming before her, then not bothering to stick around to see if she got off.
She was sick to hell of coming in second.
In the name of coming in first and being the center of a man's attention if only for a little while, she was ready to give nice guys a try. Her housemate and ex-lover, Sam, claimed she wouldn't regret it, since what people were always saying about nice guys was true: they finished last, and it was because they wanted their leading ladies to come in first.
A nice guy like the well-built Good Samaritan across the street, Lissa thought eagerly. Only, a glance back across the street revealed he wasn't there any longer. Neither was the kid.
"Well, shit." So much for opportunity knocking.
Not that she had time to do a meet and greet. She had an appointment with the owner of the Sugar Shack candy store for a potential interior redesign job. Besides, Mr. Nice Guy was likely one among a hundred like him who donated his time to Almost Family and similar nonprofit services.
How many of those others had an ass and arms like his?
A dynamite ass and a killer set of arms, and probably a gorgeous wife or girlfriend to go with them.
Her eagerness flame fanned out, Lissa put her nice guy hunt on hold. She returned her attention to the mirror for a quick teeth and facial inspection. Finding everything acceptable and her freckles returned to barely noticeable, she grabbed her black leather briefcase satchel from the passenger's seat and climbed out of the car.
The closest she'd been able to get a parking spot to the candy store was three blocks away. She was a stickler for arriving early, so reaching the place on time wouldn't require sprinting in her skirt and open-toe heels. Hooking the satchel's strap over her arm, she took off down the sidewalk.
One block in, footfalls pounded on the sidewalk behind her. Not an uncommon thing, given the number of people milling about the downtown area on a Friday afternoon. What was uncommon was how noisily they fell, like the person was purposefully trying to be loud.
Were they in step with hers?
Sam's thing was paranoia, not Lissa's. Only, it appeared her housemate was rubbing off on her. Her skin suddenly felt crawly. Her entire body went tense with the sensation of being watched. Followed. Stalked.
Oh jeez! Could she be any more melodramatic?
This wasn't a dark, stormy night scenario. The sun shone down from overhead and, while June in Michigan didn't often equate to blistering temperatures, a warm, gentle breeze toyed with the yellow, green, and white flowered silk overlay of her knee-length skirt. And there was the fact she was surrounded by a few dozen other people.
To prove how ridiculous she was acting, Lissa stopped walking. The footfalls came again, once, and then fell silent.
Her breath dragged in.
What if she was being followed? The candy store was still a block and a half away. Sprinting the remainder of the distance might be the safest route. Yeah right it would. She was liable to snag a heel in a sidewalk crack and break her neck. Then she would have a reason to be concerned.
Ignoring the hasty beat of her heart, she faced her overactive imagination by spinning around ... and there he was.
Mr. Nice Guy stood less than twenty feet away. Not following her or even eyeing her up, but standing in front of a coffee shop, peering into its storefront windows.
He moved toward the shop's door, pulling it open with a tinkling of overhead bells and placing his ass in her line of vision. Once more she appreciated the stellar view. This time it was more than appreciation though. This time, just before he turned and disappeared inside, he looked her way.
Lissa's heart skipped a beat with the glimpse of pure masculine perfection.
Stubble the same shade of wheat as his thick, wavy hair dusted an angular jaw line and coasted above a full, stubborn upper lip. Eyebrows a shade darker slashed in wicked arcs over vivid cobalt blue eyes. His cheeks sank in just enough to make him look lean, hungry, and dangerous all at once. Then there was the way he filled out his jeans; his backside had nothing on his front half. Beneath the faded denim, muscles bulged and strained in all the right places. And she did mean all the right places.
If not for catching him joking around with the youth services kid, she would have mistaken him for a bad boy in a heartbeat. He wasn't. But clearly her body approved of him.
Heat raced into her face and her nipples stabbed to life, making her wish she hadn't relied on the built-in shelf bra of her yellow short-sleeve top to hold in her cleavage. Her breasts were way too big to be fully constrained by the flimsy little cotton bras sewn into shirts. For whatever reason, she allowed Sam to talk her into giving one a try. Probably because when she slipped out of her bedroom wearing it, he'd taken one look at her chest and offered to give her a pre-appointment mouth job.
Coming from a gay guy, that was a major compliment.
The bells over the coffee shop door sounded as a gray-haired, sixty-something couple exited. Lissa glanced at her watch. Ten minutes till her appointment. A block and a half to go.
She could spend five minutes determining if Mr. Nice Guy was single and searching and then huff it to the Sugar Shack. Or forgo the meet and greet, arrive at her appointment on time, and take Sam up on his mouth job offer when she arrived home.
As much as she loved Sam, there was no future for them beyond friendship. There probably wasn't one with the guy in the coffee shop either.
Lissa walked back to the shop anyway.
To the sound of tinkling bells, she pulled open the wood door with white and red stained-glass coffee mugs designed into its window slats. Entering the shop, she looked up at the bells ... and nearly slammed into Mr. Nice Guy.
He stood in front of a customer bulletin board, pinning business cards up with long-fingered hands that bore neither rings nor tan lines. After tacking the last card onto the board, he turned toward her, flashed a smile sexy enough to do a fluttering number on her sex, and moved right on past and out the door.
"Well, shit." So much for opportunity knocking. Even worse, she was starting to sound like a broken record.
She should forget about him and get to her appointment. But between his lack of a wedding ring and that sexy smile, her eagerness flame was rekindled.
Lissa grabbed one of the newly posted business cards off the bulletin board. Thad Davies, Handyman was written in black, and beneath it, in bold, blue lettering, Loose Screws Construction. Was the company name meant to be a double entendre, and exactly how handy of a man was Thad?
Handy enough to leave her his number.
Smiling, she tucked the business card into her satchel. Later, maybe she would give him a call. Or maybe she would pick up a box of Sam's favorite sweets while she was at the Sugar Shack and use them to bribe him into making good on his mouth job offer.
"You're a bastard!"
Thad Davies sank back against the black metal rails of his headboard and sighed over the glaring brunette standing on the end of the bed's bare mattress.
Naked and flushed with the aftereffects of orgasm, she looked ready to beat the shit out of him. From what little he knew of her, she was nice enough. Her sweat-glistening tits were definitely nice, as they jostled around with her anger. That didn't mean he was ready to forget she was a client and sleep with her for free. "You play, you pay, sweetheart."
With a huff, she bounded off the end of the bed, flashing an ass that was just as nice and well rounded as her tits. "Don't call me that! And don't you ever come near me again."
She reached the tangle of sheets, covers, and clothing, which had found their way to the floor in the midst of their wild screwing, and started kicking them apart.
Damn, he really didn't like upsetting women. It wasn't his fault they hired him for sex and ended up falling for him along the way. Not all of them did, but more than a couple had in the five months since the woman-pleasuring division of Loose Screws started up. "You called me," he reminded her.
The brunette stopped kicking to look at him, hurt evident in her eyes. "I thought we had something between us."
"We do. A business deal."
The hurt left her expression as cold fury took over. Soft pink lips, which less than ten minutes ago had been wrapped around his dick and delivering him to nirvana, pushed into a hard line. Giving the chaotic pile a final kick, she uncovered a slim red purse and yanked it up by the strap. "Consider the deal off," she bit out as she shoved her hand inside the purse and yanked out a handful of bills. "Don't expect any referrals to be coming your way."
Fifties and hundreds plastered him in the chest and rained down on the bed around him. Some people might feel cheap in a situation like this. For Thad, it was all in a day's work, and he happened to love his job most of the time ... well, what man in his right mind wouldn't?
Pushing the bills off his chest, he moved to the edge of the bed and swung his legs over the side. He rolled the condom off his deflating shaft, tucked it into a tissue, and deposited it in the wastebasket between the bed and the short black oak dresser that doubled as a nightstand. "Don't you be forgetting that silence agreement you signed."
Midway through diving down to retrieve her bra and panties, the brunette's breath dragged in on a gasp. She glared at him. "Like I would tell anyone I had the poor taste to pay to fuck you."
"You got your money's worth. All six times." Today, she'd chosen to suck him off while he fulfilled her order of oral sex. The five times she employed his services before this, she'd been after her pleasure alone. The ecstatic cries centering each of those sessions said she'd enjoyed herself plenty.
With a final huff, she jerked the bra and panties off the floor and, not bothering to go back for her skintight white minidress, stormed out the bedroom door. Less than twenty seconds later, the front door slammed. The short lapse of time told him she'd left his rental duplex buck naked.
The neighbors would have a coronary over that exit.
But to hell with what his neighbors thought. Thad had never been a saint a day in his life and he never intended to pretend otherwise, even if the ultraconservative city of Crichton and the surrounding county preferred him to do so.
He scrubbed a hand over his face, aware that line of thinking was a lie.
He didn't want to give a damn what his neighbors thought of him and if they discovered he worked part time as a gigolo, but he didn't have any choice in the matter. Thanks to the economy being blown to shit and taking his job with the local automotive plant along with it, staying in the area meant making his money by whatever means possible.
Loose Screws, the construction company he ran with two of his former plant coworkers, was taking off slowly. And business would continue to be slow until the economy bounced back. The cold hard truth was most people didn't have the money to spend on building or remodeling.
Women did have money for sex. Or whatever else might tickle their fancy, or any other part of their mind and body.
Last week Benny pulled in a grand just for spending the afternoon alone with an eighty-year-old widow. Alone and naked, but still that was a helluva lot of dough for a few hours of small talk while being ogled by an old lady.
Speaking of his business partner, Thad should give Benny a call and see if he and Nash needed help at the current construction site. The job was a relatively small one. It was also nearly finished, and the sooner it got done, the sooner they would get paid. Nash could avoid needing the cash by sucking up his loathing for the wealthy and asking his affluent father for a handout the man was eager to give. Benny was doing whatever it took to keep his Alzheimer's-stricken foster mother in an upscale nursing home. Thad just liked to be able to afford to eat and make rent.
After going into the half bath adjoining his second-floor bedroom and getting washed up, Thad pulled on a pair of boxers and jeans, then headed downstairs to the kitchen. He lifted the cordless phone from the counter, planning to punch in Benny's cell number while he discovered what, if any, food waited in the refrigerator.
The phone rang before he could punch the first number. Pulling open the fridge door, he hit the phone's Talk button. "Loose Screws. This is Thad."
"I need you," a low, husky feminine voice implored through the phone line.
One of the reasons he was able to charge as much as he did for his gigolo services was the shitload of testosterone the good Lord saw fit to gift him with. The carnal invitation that seemed to fill the woman's words had his blood pumping hot. His cock joined in, already hungry for more loving. Remembering this was the construction phone line didn't do a thing to calm his body. The woman-pleasuring division of Loose Screws originated because of someone calling the company, guessing it to be a hustler service by its name, and hoping one of their employees might be interested in working as a stripper for a bachelorette party.
"Then you called the right place." Letting the refrigerator door shut, Thad focused on determining if she was after business or pleasure. "How might I be of service?"
"The way the ceiling's leaking, I think my roof's about ready to fall through. I need to get it fixed before the next rainstorm."
Serious words spoken in a sultry tone. Didn't tell him a damned thing. "This need business related?"
Excerpted from HANDYMAN by JODI LYNN COPELAND Copyright © 2008 by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Excerpted by permission.
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