Authors: Dara Girard
He sat inside. “I like a woman with confidence.”
“Yes,” she said, then closed the door and got into the driver's seat.
“Nice to know I'm in good hands,” Kevin said as she started the ignition.
For one wild, brief, dangerous moment Dominique thought about holding him in her hands. She thought about molding him, sculpting him, tasting him. She pushed the thought aside and gripped the steering wheel. Other women had fallen for his charm and she wasn't going to be one of them.
“I should probably fire you,” he said.
Dominique felt a chill slide through her. One moment she felt safe and the next uneasy. He could unsettle her so easily. “Why?” she asked, making sure to keep her tone neutral. She glanced at him through the rearview mirror. “What have I done?”
Kevin looked out the window, his tone bored. “Nothing, it's just a feeling.”
Dominique searched her mind, trying to figure out where she'd gone wrong. How could he suspect anything? “I'm good at what I do. I know cars andâ”
“What brought you to me?”
“The agency.” At least that sounded legitimate. She'd figure out what to do when she dropped him home. So far her deception hadn't been revealed, Ferguson would have called him by now if it had.
“I mean, what made you want to be a driver?”
Dominique shifted lanes, wishing he'd drop the subject. Why did he have to be so chatty? Shouldn't he be on the phone talking dirty to one of his girlfriends? “It's a long, boring story.”
He shrugged. “I like stories.”
She had to change tactics, be a little defensive. “Do you have something against female drivers?”
He flashed a quick grin. “I'm not against female anything. No, it's just you.”
“What's wrong with me?”
“I'm not sure yet, Ms. Carter. Is there anything you want to tell me?”
She resisted the urge to adjust that A/C or better yet, roll down the window and feel the air from outside. She needed something to cool her skin. She felt closed in and hot. His questions sounded innocuous, simple, but she knew they weren't. “I need this job.”
“I like how you handle the car.”
She gripped the steering wheel, waiting for a âbut'â¦
“My drivers follow strict rules,” he continued.
“Okay,” she said letting her grip relax. He was going to give her a chance.
“They work long hours.”
“And must know how to be discreet.”
“I'm very discreet.”
Kevin leaned forward, resting his chin on the back of her chair. “I know,” he said, close enough that she could feel his warm breath on her neck, and smell the heady scent of his cologne. “I can always tell when a woman's keeping secrets.”
Dominique didn't reply and to her relief, he sat back and didn't ask any more questions. But she knew she had to come up with a new lie fast.
you returned any of my calls?” Ferguson demanded in a state of panic when Kevin got home.
Kevin pulled out his phone and saw the list of missed calls. “Sorry, I had it on silent. What's the problem?”
“At least you're safe and the car is safe, so that's something.”
“Ferguson, what's wrong?”
Ferguson took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes then shoved them back on again. “I made a mistake.”
Ferguson always rubbed his eyes when he was agitated. But lots of things could agitate him. Rain on a day he'd hoped to be sunny. A house staff member with an unironed shirt. Kevin patted him on the back in reassurance. “Calm down. What mistake?”
“It's about the new driver.”
Kevin folded his arms and tried not to smile. Ferguson was worried for no reason. “Don't worry, she's fine. I like her.”
Ferguson shook his head. “That's not it.”
Kevin let his hands fall to his hips. “What is it then?”
“She's not a driver.”
“You're not making sense.”
Ferguson rubbed his eyes again, but this time didn't return his glasses to his face. Instead he collapsed the frames and used them to tap his forehead. “You have every reason to fire me after this.”
“I'm not going to fire you. Just tell me what's going on.”
He shook his head and closed his eyes. “I should haveâ”
Kevin whacked him on the arm. “Pull yourself together.”
Ferguson stared at him then nodded. “You're right.” He put his glasses back in place. “It was a busy day and a lot was going onâ¦”
Kevin silently groaned, knowing this was going to be a long story. He sighed and headed for the living room so he could sit down. His leg was already starting to hurt and he couldn't stand much longer. He settled into a chair as Ferguson continued his story. He'd learned to tune him out until he got to a point that mattered. He glanced at the ground and noticed a woman's earring lying next to a table leg. The maid service was getting sloppy. He hadn't had a party in two days; that should have been cleaned up by now.
“â¦After I showed her aroundâ¦”
He wondered who the earring belonged to. He went through a catalogue of prospects in his mind. He'd gotten good at matching women with their jewelry.
“â¦ and saw her leave to pick you up, the driver from the agency arrived. He apologized for being late.”
Kevin shifted his gaze from the earring to Ferguson. Now that was interesting. “She's not from the agency?”
Kevin nodded. “So that explains it,” he muttered to himself.
“Never mind. Who is she?”
Ferguson gripped his hands together, his voice rising in dismay. “That's where I messed up. To think I handed her the keys to the Bentley andâ”
Kevin held up his hand. He wasn't in the mood for one of Ferguson's meltdowns. They didn't happen often, but when they did they were messy. “Tell me what went wrong.”
“I didn't get all her particulars before sending her to you. I didn't want you waiting, so I gave her the go ahead. I thought I'd go through all the proper procedures when you got back.”
Kevin nodded. “That's understandable.”
“No, it's not. I even told the other man that I'd hired someone else just to save face. I'll get rid of her right away.”
Kevin stood and picked up the earring. “No, don't do that.”
Ferguson looked at him confused. “But we don't know who she is or why she's here.”
Kevin tossed the earring to him. “Exactly.”
Ferguson glanced down at the earring then up at Kevin, perplexed. “Do you want me to investigate?”
Kevin shook his head. “No, I want to see how far she'll go. And I don't plan to let her leave until I find out what she's really up to.”
he was just his type
, Kevin thought as stood at the arched window in the hallway and watched Dominique wash his BMW with careful consideration. Everybody knew Kevin Jackson liked his ladies and he was very shrewd in making sure he wasn't particular. He was an equal opportunity admirer of the female species. He liked ladies of all shapes and sizes, races and ages.
But he had a weakness for one specific type and now she worked for him. If it had been a couple of months prior he would have made a play for her, but those days were over.
He would have to be careful, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy the view.
She was beautifully proportioned with luscious curves. From their first meeting he knew there was more to her than what she seemed. She carried herself with a regal certainty he'd never seen in someone who'd been in service.
She had the bearings of a queen, someone used to being obeyed. Half the time he expected her to hand the keys to him and tell him where to take her. He wondered what she'd done before she'd shown up at his door. Was she running from someone? Hiding? Her missteps and awkwardness at their first meeting weren't her natural state. He could tell that she wasn't a woman who was shaken easily. She was a woman usually in command of herself. He'd learned to read people.
No, not just peopleâwomen. Women were his favorite subject and Dominique was a lesson he wanted to study. She was a strange contradiction. An attractive woman who didn't seem to know how attractive she was. A woman used to leading, taking a job that forced her to follow. She'd tried to trick him, but her attempt was sloppy, although he did enjoy the effort.
And then there was her voice. Yes, her voice was going to get him into trouble. It was smooth, deep and husky like a good bourbon. The kind of voice that could turn any word into a naughty invitation. Just hearing her say âyes sir' made him want to hear her say âyes' again. Over and over. Preferably in bed with her legs wrapped around him.
Right now he could picture her washing the car nakedâsoaping up the car and bending over the hood. Then he could picture her hosing it down. Then hosing herself. He couldn't help a grin. Ferguson would definitely scold him for his thoughts right now. He was supposed to be worried, instead he was turned on.
But right now his imagination was all that he had. There was still so much he couldn't share with anyone. If only Cassieâ¦
His mood dimmed. Cassie was still in the hospitalâstill in a coma. The woman he didn't want to love anymore. He hadn't even known he had a type until he met her. She'd been the first and only woman who'd made himâMister-can't-keep-still-Kevinâthink of settling down. She'd completely shaken him like no other woman had.
He'd met her in a class he'd taken about social grace. A class he didn't need. He'd done it for fun to see what kind of people would show up. Cassie had been the instructorâCassandra, her alter egoâa successful author and speaker. A woman who moved like a goddess. As Cassandra, her eyes weren't hidden by glasses and she commanded attention. But instead of being haughty or distant, she cared. When one of the students broke down after sharing one of her disastrous dates, Cassandra gave the young woman such a motivating speech about self-love that the other students burst into applause and at the end of the class the young woman had left the room beaming.
In that instant he'd lost his heart. She possessed a level of warmth and sweetness that had no guile. She didn't want something from him and that was rare in his life. She also didn't fall for his charm, seeing him as a friend instead of a man. It had bruised his ego at first, but he'd decided to be patient, sure that in time she'd see him as he wanted her to.
He'd been wrong. First there was her bastard ex-husband and then she had married Henson. Even after all these years, he couldn't say that man's name without a feeling of annoyance. He didn't know what she saw in him.
Real women play with boys, but they marry men.
Henson's words burned at the very core of him. He wanted to forget them, but they kept coming back. He gripped his hand into a fist and pounded the wall. He was a man. A good man. A strong man. But nobody saw it. Nobody saw past his fun-loving ways. But what was wrong with having fun?
At least he still had Cassie as a friend and Henson couldn't do anything about it.
Except now. Now Henson was in control. He kept Cassie away from him and he couldn't blame him. It was his fault Cassie had gotten hurt, and Marcus too. If only he knew what had happened. It had to be the car. There had been skid marks so he'd lost control of the car and tried to brake. Something mechanical must have failed. The accident report had been inconclusive.
He'd taken Marcus and Cassie on a special ride for Marcus's fifth birthday in a specially designed custom car he'd ordered from Cartwright Cars. He'd used Marcus's drawing as inspiration for some of the details. He remembered the look on Marcus's face when Kevin sat him on his lap and let him handle the steering wheel before setting off on their journey. He remembered how the sun glinted against the chrome finish. He remembered feeling happy having Cassie by his side, feeling like the old days when she'd bitch about bad dates and he still thought he had a chance.
It was supposed to be memorable.
But he couldn't remember anything after that. Nothing had warned him of what loomed ahead of them. Now his mind filled with things he couldn't forget, like waking up in a hospital bed and Henson's look of rage. A rage that crept into Kevin's dreams, a rage he also felt because he felt helpless and hated the feeling.
He rested his forehead against the cool glass of the window and closed his eyes. He wished for a miracle. He didn't care if he never remembered if only Cassie would just wake up. He'd let her go, never see her again, if he had to. He'd surrender and let Henson win for good if she'd just be okay.
He opened his eyes and looked at Dominique again. He couldn't get too close. He could fantasize, but he'd keep his distance. He'd toy with her, find a way to draw her out, but he wouldn't go further than that. He'd learned to keep some things out of reach.