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Breathless In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #1)(6)

By:Bella Andre & Jennifer Skully



He was right, it had been horrible. But she’d concentrated on Jeremy, on doing everything she could for him and, eventually, the ache had become a little less each day. “I miss my parents a lot. My mother was always so good at giving advice, and my father was always so calm about things.” She would have given anything for them to be here.

Will reached for her hand and squeezed it as he said, “They would both be very proud of how you’ve done, Harper.”

His touch seared her. She was suddenly aware of every breath she took, the slight bump in her heart rate, and the heat of his body. He was so completely there as he used their connection to steer her toward Jeremy, keeping their pace a leisurely stroll down the line of cars.

“Your garage is amazing.” It seemed the polite thing to say and had the dual purpose of taking her mind off the loss of her parents and the focus off Will’s hand over hers. Almost.

The facility was spotless, with not a single oil stain in sight. Vinyl pathways had been laid down between the cars and along the rear wall. The tool chests were shiny red, with every tool put away or hanging on pegboard above the workbenches. Electrical cords in roller bins hung down from the ceiling. There was order rather than the chaos of a normal garage. Particularly her garage.

She moved ahead of him so that his hand fell away from hers. Without his touch, she felt close to normal again, just a slight tingle of awareness remaining. But at the same time, she couldn’t deny that a part of her missed it.

“You have so much space here,” she noted. “Couldn’t you also house the cars you have down at the airport?”

“Leland owns the hangar, and he’d been trying to rent out those spaces for a while. I’m glad to be able to use them.”

She recalled that Leland was his mechanic. “So you have a mechanic and you fix the cars yourself?” She waved a hand along the row of tool chests. “Not to mention building them.”

“Leland does the routine maintenance, while I get to do most of the fun stuff. But he helps out on a project if something requires more than two hands. Besides,” Will added, the dark intensity back in his eyes as he looked at her, “I’m a hands-on kind of guy.”

Harper remembered the way he’d fit the harness over her, nearly caressing her as he’d done so, and she flushed again. She didn’t like this awareness of a man she could never be with in a million, billion years. Her cravings for a rush, for thrills, were shoved way down into a secret place—whereas his were out in the open. She’d seen dozens of photos of him on the Internet, a different woman on his arm each time. They all had hourglass figures and wore sexy designer dresses that had probably cost as much as her car. Clearly, he was a player.

Yet, he was kind to Jeremy and obviously took great pride in building things with his own hands rather than simply hiring minions to do it for him.

Harper couldn’t put the pieces of the puzzle that was Will Franconi together in a way that made sense. Maybe if she knew more of his story the way he already knew hers, things might become clearer. But since she doubted she or Jeremy would ever see him again, Will Franconi would have to remain a mystery.

Needing another distraction from the heat still rising inside her, she pointed to grease-stained overalls hanging on the wall. “Looks like you’ve been doing a whole lot of work on your cars recently.”

“Like I said, cars are my thing. They always have been, since I was a kid. Even now, I can always count on them when I’m looking for a rush.”

“Can I sit in the car, Will?” Jeremy called from across the garage.

“Sure, go ahead.” Will leaned against a workbench, his arms crossed, drawing her attention to his broad chest. “So Jeremy lives with you?”

She forced herself to concentrate on his words, not his impressive muscles. “Yes. We live in our parents’ home in Palo Alto. He’s better with familiar things around him.”

“And what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a corporate recruiter.” She felt she ought to explain why she was wearing a suit today. “I had an interview this morning.”

“On a Saturday?” He looked impressed. “Dedicated.”

“I enjoy my job.” And she truly did love matching people up with the job perfect for them.

“No brothers, no sisters?”

“Just me and Jeremy. No cousins, either.”

“So you take care of him all on your own?”

“Yes. And we’re fine that way.”

Thank God Jeremy chose that moment to run back to them. She felt like she’d been under Will’s magnifying glass. He was even better at asking questions than she was, and that was pretty impressive, given that she asked questions for a living.

Why, she had to wonder again, was Will at all interested in her and Jeremy when they were never going to see each other again? Perhaps she shouldn’t be so wary when he’d been nothing but nice so far, but after her experiences with the last two men she’d let get close—and after she’d watched the way the wealthy father of the teen who’d hit Jeremy had used his money to buy them out of any trouble—Harper simply couldn’t trust blindly anymore.

“Can we see the other garage, Will?” Jeremy was a bundle of energy, even more so than usual. As though he felt he had to take big bites of Will’s world before it was gone.

“Sure,” Will said as he fished in his pocket for a remote. “But there’s no Birdcage Maserati over there.”

“I know,” Jeremy said sadly. “Maybe if I close my eyes and wish hard enough, there could be one day.” He did, squeezing his eyes shut.

Will laughed. “Sorry, I’m no genie in a bottle. Not today, at least.” He pointed his remote at the closest door and it rolled up to reveal a sporty red vehicle.

“The Ferrari,” Jeremy said in whispered awe before running toward the sports car. To Harper, his feet always seemed one step away from stumbling, but thankfully, Jeremy didn’t fall.

“You don’t have to do all this,” she said apologetically.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said again. “I like your brother. I don’t often meet people who are as excited about cars as I am.” He grinned at her. “He told me I should build a Birdcage Maserati.”

“He’s crazy for that car. He’s got pictures of it all over his bedroom wall.”

“I hated having to tell him no one makes a Maserati kit car.” Will put his hand on the small of her back as they followed her brother at a more reasonable pace. “He showed me his notebook on the drive over.”

The warmth of his touch was too much, too powerful. Wanting it so much more than she knew she should, she turned slightly, pulling away, trying to focus on what he was saying instead of his heat, his scent, and the things his hand on her back was doing to her insides.

“Even after you told him you couldn’t get a kit for it, he wouldn’t stop talking about that car, right?”

“Right.”

Why Jeremy had fixated on the Maserati, Harper didn’t know. She couldn’t see anything special about it—at least, no more than any other sports car. “I’m sorry about that.”

“You don’t need to keep apologizing for him. Like I said, I like your brother.” Another one of those gorgeous smiles curved his lips. “And I want to take you out, because I like you, too.”

Rushing ahead of them, Jeremy hadn’t stumbled, but Harper almost did just then. “Excuse me?”

“Dinner. Tonight. You and me.”

The shock of his invitation—and just how badly she wanted to say Yes!—sent her pulse into the danger zone. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Don’t think, Harper. Just say yes.” He gave her another smile, this one a little devious. “I already asked Jeremy, and he said it was fine if I took you out.”

“You’re joking.”

“I’m perfectly serious. Hey, Jeremy,” he called, “didn’t I ask on the drive over if I could take Harper to dinner?”

“Yup. I said okeydokey.”

Knowing that she was seriously out of her depth with this man, Harper said, “I can’t date you.”

“Why not?” he asked reasonably. “You’re not afraid, are you?”

“Of course I’m not afraid,” she said quickly. Too quickly, perhaps.

Because the truth was that she was afraid. Afraid of just how much she wanted to go on a date with Will. Afraid of just how badly she wanted to feel his mouth on hers. Afraid of just how much she loved seeing him smile at her. Afraid of being so starved for male affection that she’d be tempted to let herself become a plaything for a billionaire who couldn’t possibly want her for anything more than that.

In the end, given the jumble of emotions inside of her, the best reason she could come up with was, “I don’t like to leave Jeremy alone at night. And it’s too late to get anyone to stay with him.”

“Then how about tomorrow night, so that you can find someone to watch your brother?”

“Tomorrow night is okay, Will,” Jeremy called from inside the garage, and she wondered how on earth he’d heard the conversation.

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