Read an Excerpt
On His List
By Wendy Sparrow, Lewis Pollak
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Wendy Sparrow
All rights reserved.
All Remy had to do was to follow her brother's instructions to the last detail and everything would be fine. Just get in the car and drive the big, black, hulking sedan where she was directed. Don't touch the client's stuff. Don't talk too much. Drive the speed limit exactly. Treat every request like a commandment. And, seriously, don't touch his stuff.
Her upcoming passenger clearly had some issues if Denny had felt that needed to be driven into her gray matter. It wasn't like she was all handsy about touching other people's possessions for crying out loud.
"Hell, Denny, it's not like I was going to go rabid and lick all his things. I'll try to restrain myself," she'd said this morning. "And you know me, I can be quiet." Mostly at funerals and only then for short periods of time, but it did happen.
Denny pleaded, "You can't be yourself. You have to be like me." It was the wrong thing to say to a younger sister, but they needed today's job. Like, really needed it. The rent money, stashed in a coffee tin, had been stolen last week in a break-in that had also claimed yet another cheap DVD player among other things.
She wouldn't have put it past their lousy landlord to have stolen their stuff. She already suspected he'd taken some of her underwear when he'd replaced the faucet in their bathroom. The three-hundred-pound slob was probably wearing her Victoria's Secret leopard-print thong while collecting the rent money.
The jerk had given them until Friday to come up with the rent. Rent money they wouldn't have if Denny called in sick with a migraine today. And even though none of this was her fault and it was her day off — and she deserved a day off — it always came back to the money.
So, she was here. At San Francisco International Airport. Following directions. Which she hated.
And the guy had asked for Denny specifically. This was so going to blow up in their faces.
She waited beside the black sedan, flipping the sign around and around while she examined all the possibilities heading her way. Owen Savoy was young, so he wasn't that whale of a guy who kept glancing at her while digging through his pockets. He looked short of breath and far too old to be giving her those looks. Did she look like she needed a sugar daddy? If he popped a blue pill, she'd hide in the car until he went away.
Then there was the woman who kept stomping around and snarling at people. Airports really brought out the worst in some freaks. She'd just yelled at a kid for bumping her Gucci purse. If it weren't a knockoff, that purse could pay Remy's and Denny's rent for the month. She squinted. Hmm. It might be a knockoff, but since this was about the closest Remy had ever been to Gucci, she couldn't be sure.
For a second, Remy entertained the fantasy of running over, snatching the lady's purse, and selling it to pay rent. Desperation did funny things to a person.
The whale was still eyeing her up, down, and sideways. Maybe she should have worn something less sexy. Her cherry red, silk camisole hugged the definition of lingerie, and only the skirt she wore declared her outfit "work attire." She frowned down at the short skirt. Maybe it erred on the side of working girl attire.
No. It was sexy. Just sexy.
Remy hoped Owen Savoy would keep this driver swap to himself if she provided a little eye candy. But it also attracted wrinkly and creepy ... and sweaty. The whale guy was a puddle over there. Yikes!
Hurry up, Owen. You've got twenty seconds before that guy melts like the Wicked Witch of the West from ogling this look I'm rocking.
The automatic doors opened with a whoosh, and she glanced over hopefully, only to feel sucker punched. Lean and tall with a warm golden tan, short black hair without a strand out of place. She couldn't see his eyes due to the sunglasses he'd put on for the few moments he'd be outside, but the deep grooves on either side of his mouth implied his eyes were narrowed and seeking a victim for his inner fury. His eyes would be cold and severe. Gray, she thought. Definitely gray. Or a piercing "don't touch me" blue.
His light gray dress shirt was meticulous and unwrinkled, which meant he'd changed after his flight landed. No one could keep a shirt that crisp on a plane. What kind of guy carried around extra shirts in his carry-on?
Such a crime — looks that good wasted on a guy too uptight to use them. This guy had inner demons. Evil demons that drove him to wear neat clothes and put on sunglasses so brief periods of sun wouldn't scorch his soul. He was probably a vampire.
Mr. Crisp Shirt zeroed in on her sign and headed her way. She shouldn't have bothered with the eye candy. She could have been naked and he wouldn't break stride. His walk, tight and efficient in movement, screamed, "Don't waste my time."
She flinched, felt the temptation to turn and run, but there was the money at stake.
It always came down to the money.
On the plus side, he had nice muscle tone — and good bone structure if his jaw and cheekbones were a good indicator. With how tight he held his jaw, though, she'd bet her massage table he had a problem with it.
"Mr. Savoy?" Remy stood up straight, not quite the ramrod posture he had, but she tried to look like she knew what she was doing.
He gestured at her sign, taking off his sunglasses. Hazel. They were hazel, not severe or even piercing. Soft like melted chocolate with green streaks in them. Even narrowed and squinty, they were beautiful. He kept staring at her sign as if something was wrong with it. She peeked down, blushed six shades of red, and then flipped it right side up. Crap. Way to be professional, Remy. Still, it was clearly his name in her loopy, happy cursive. She'd even made the capital letters extra curvy — so much wasted effort on her part.
"You're not Denny." He set his bag down. "I asked for Denny."
Remy fought back a snarky retort. Denny had warned her she might have to call the company for a replacement, but she'd thought that was just Denny being paranoid. Her feet were starting to sweat in her shoes. This wasn't going to work. Their landlord was going to toss them out and sell their stuff to fund his underwear fetish.
"Denny couldn't make it. My name is Remy. Remy Maison." She held out her hand to shake his. He stared at it for a moment before she jerked it back and clenched her fist at her side. Oh, yeah, this was going well. Maybe she could pick up someone's shift at work or donate plasma or something.
"He couldn't make it because he's driving someone else?" Owen asked.
"No, he's got a migraine, and it's not safe for him to drive while he's on his medication." She said it through teeth clenched so tight her jaw might have some issues by the end of the day.
To her surprise, Owen relaxed and nodded. "You said your name was Remy?" He picked up the bag again.
Her knees felt like rubber from relief, and she yanked the car door open with so much enthusiasm that he took a quick step back. "Yes."
"Does your company hire anyone named Joe or Bob or Jane?" His smile was more of a smirk, but she sensed he was trying to be nice.
She reached for his bag and, though he pulled it toward him with a head shake, their fingers brushed. An inferno of heat and tingling awareness shot up her arm from the incidental contact — like she'd touched a live wire. She jerked her hand back. What on earth? No way. Not him. Not with so much on the line.
"I'll keep it with me," he said. He was staring at her with a perplexed look on his face. Not that she could blame him. A little skin contact, and she acted like he'd lit her on fire — which was definitely how it felt.
She nodded in quick drops of her head and shut the door after he slid in. Remy stood there, memorizing the top of the car and wishing she hadn't just felt that. She didn't need to be attracted to him. It might be the last thing she needed.
It's all about the money. It's all about the money. Owen Savoy was a have; she was a have-not. They were from completely different worlds. Attraction was a useless emotion.
With a deep breath, she went to the driver's side and climbed in. "Denny is my brother," she said, answering his earlier question. "Our full names are horrific."
She saw him smile in the rearview mirror. Hot damn. He was sexy when he smiled. He had perfectly even, straight teeth. He probably even flossed regularly.
He smothered the smile quickly. Damn. "What are your real names?"
"It's a secret. We don't tell anyone our full names." She twisted in her seat to face him. Big mistake. "Now, where can I take you, Mr. Savoy?" The pull of attraction made her words sound breathless and full of unexpected meaning. Where can I take you? Nice, Remy. Hopefully, he wouldn't notice.
"First, can we go get something to eat? Do you have In-N-Out Burgers here?" He looked around the airport as if suddenly unsure of where he was.
Remy raised her eyebrows. How would it be to travel so much you looked disconcerted with where you actually were? Envy wriggled through her heart. "I can take you to an In-N-Out."
He nodded and pulled open a laptop, apparently done with the chitchat. As Denny had predicted, today would be a day she spent in quiet contemplation. Other than him muttering and moving his papers around after consulting his laptop, Owen didn't talk. The minutes stretched on and on without any attempts at conversation.
What were the odds she'd be able to keep her mouth shut for the entire day? Nil. Maybe that's why he liked Denny. Denny could be quiet. Her jaw hurt from the effort she'd expended keeping it shut. She normally talked her way through the whole day.
Okay, then. She spent the short drive trying to get a read on him and minimize how many times he frowned in response to her driving. A widely banked turn made him frown. If her turn signal was on long enough to intrude on his concentration, his head would pop up and he'd stare at the scenery with a scowl. A few times, she caught quick looks at the speedometer. Cute. But not really. Okay, it was a little cute.
"Drive-thru?" she asked when they arrived.
"Yes, but then park, so I can explain my schedule while we're eating."
Huh, apparently they were eating. No wonder Denny liked this job so much — you kept Denny's stomach full, and he was happy. Plus, she assumed since he'd offered, she wouldn't have to pay for it. She sighed at the mental intrusion money had become. Every thought. Every action. She flicked a glance in her mirror — something he probably couldn't relate to.
Maybe Owen would loosen up after he'd eaten. Maybe he was like Denny in that.
"I'll order," he insisted.
Remy pulled forward so his window lined up with the speaker.
"A number one, hold the onions and tomato, and can I get the lettuce in between the top patty and the second patty? It's cleaner that way."
The cashier sounded bemused as she asked, "What to drink?"
Owen glanced at the drink holder in trepidation as if doubting it was up to the task. "Just water. Can you repeat that back to me, please?"
Remy covered her smile with her hand and tried to look nonchalant as the cashier repeated his order back, down to the lettuce placement.
"You don't want your fries Animal Style?" Hopefully he didn't catch the hint of innuendo she'd been surprised to hear in her voice.
He raised an eyebrow.
"Melted cheese, their spread, and then grilled onions on top," Remy explained.
He snorted and shook his head.
She should have expected that. He probably preferred his life the opposite from Animal Style. Good to know. Might help her kill this weird attraction she was fighting.
"What do you want?" he asked.
For you to loosen up. To not be wondering if his lips were soft or firm when he kissed.
She shrugged. "A Coke? Wait, no, a Neapolitan shake."
"Where is that?" He stared at the menu.
"It's a secret menu item. You have to request it."
Both eyebrows lifted this time. He'd clearly never ordered off-menu. Her whole life was lived off-menu. Owen continued to stare at her, but said nothing, so she rolled down her window and requested it herself.CHAPTER 2
After they'd picked up their food, she parked the car underneath a shady tree, far away from a car bouncing out a heavy rap from its subwoofers. See how accommodating she was being?
"You look like your brother," Owen said as he organized papers across the large backseat of the sedan.
She winced. She was hot for this guy, and he thought she looked like Denny? She was half Denny's size, and not in a stick-thin sort of way — she had curves. Nice curves. Hard-to-maintain curves. She and her brother both had brown hair and blue eyes, but that was where the resemblance took a sharp turn. Her hair was long, clear to the middle of her back. She'd left it loose, other than a red hair band keeping wispy strands out of her lip gloss. She'd even taken the time to brush on some mascara to make her blue eyes pop.
Mascara. On her day off.
Today was feeling blown. She brushed imaginary lint off her A-line skirt and glanced in the rearview mirror. She could have worn a pair of sweatpants and her ripped-up Oakland A's T-shirt and Mr. Owen Savoy might not have noticed.
That was her normal day-off attire — days off were also laundry days. She'd catch up on a few TV shows while keeping an eagle eye on the time so no one else stole her underwear from the apartment's scary laundry room. Now, she'd be washing thongs at midnight after a day spent with this man who made her want to rub the shake cup across her face and neck just to cool down but who also thought she looked like her brother.
Like her brother. Yikes.
She checked the rearview again. He'd asked for a gazillion extra napkins when they'd arrived at the window and was treating his burger like it was a biohazard. He could single-handedly run the Amazon out of trees with his napkin consumption.
He ate in silence. It was as if the air around him was a vacuum for sound. It was that quiet.
Remy set the shake in the cup holder and waited patiently for this explanation regarding his schedule. As patiently as she could. She started fiddling with things to pass the time, making minute adjustments to the outside mirrors. Then, she tried to get her seat at the exact perfect distance from the steering wheel. Once she'd shifted it back and forth a hundred times, she wriggled into the stiff leather seating, trying to get her skirt to ride up just the perfect amount. She was hovering between a "hey, I'm an attractive woman with great legs" and "I'm easy" when a cough from the seat behind her made her freeze.
"Do you need to use the restroom?" he asked politely.
"No." Should she tack on a "thank you" there? Who knew?
"Are you sure? You're moving around a lot. We have time, and I can delay my explanation."
"I'm just not used to sitting still." She pulled out her "outrageous raspberry" lip gloss — more for something to do than anything. He made her nervous, both in a good way and in a bad way. It wasn't like her to be so hyperaware of a man, but all of her nerve endings were screaming that he was sitting less than four feet behind her — with his seat belt on — despite being parked.
When she pulled the rearview mirror down, she realized he was staring at her, appearing somewhat fascinated with the process of her putting on lip gloss. She was normally good at reading people, and she could swear she saw some real hunger in those soft brown eyes of his. Her body tingled with awareness, and her heart started thumping.
"Uhh," he said, blinking out of the daze. "Doesn't driving normally involve sitting still?"
"I'm not normally a driver." Remy rubbed her lips together.
He went back to staring. His tongue darted and caressed that lower lip of his, which looked delicious and in need of biting, when it wasn't pursed in a disapproving frown, but even more so when it was.
There was something seriously wrong with her. On the other hand, he'd just licked his lips while staring at her: he wanted her.
Excerpted from On His List by Wendy Sparrow, Lewis Pollak. Copyright © 2013 Wendy Sparrow. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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