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The Wedding Rescue, Book One(2)

By:Alexa Wilder

“I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to a stranger’s problems,” I said, not wanting this beautiful man to know what a mess I was.

“I’m never too busy to listen to an attractive woman,” he answered. I snorted a laugh, choking a little on my appletini. He must be working an angle. Men like this didn’t hit on me. Maybe he thought I was, easy, or maybe he was another scammer. I’d had enough of that lately. I couldn’t afford to be taken in again.

“Smooth,” I said, still giggling a little. “But whatever you’re selling, I don’t need any. I’ve got enough trouble as it is.”

“I’m not selling anything.” He actually looked affronted, as if I’d insulted him. “Really. I just got off work, wandered in here, saw you, and wanted to get to know you better.”

“Why?” I challenged, tossing back the rest of my drink.

Sure, this was the most beautiful man I’d seen in real life. However, his sitting beside me and starting a conversation just because he liked the way I looked was a little hard to swallow. Girls like me did not attract men like him. I was too plump, too boring, and too plain. Besides, I was not having a lucky week. Or month, if we’re being honest.

“Because,” he said, leaning in so his lips almost grazed my ear, “you’re the only real thing I’ve seen in this place in months. You’re gorgeous, and you don’t even know it. And I want to know you better.”

I snorted again. Not the most elegant sound. Maybe I’d had one drink too many—no, I’d definitely had one too many. I just couldn’t buy it. I had decent self-esteem, but come on. This guy could get any woman he wanted. I was a somewhat overweight accountant who lived in a tiny bungalow, drove a beige sedan, and contributed regularly to her retirement account. All I was missing was a few cats, and I’d be all ready to become a little old lady at twenty-five. I might live in Vegas, but it could have been the small midwestern town I’d grown up in for the all the excitement in my life.

“Sorry. Not interested,” I said. “The last hot guy who told me I was gorgeous ended up cleaning out my savings account. That was after telling me how hard it was to date such a fat ass long enough to get my bankcard and pin. I’m not looking for a guy like you.” I waved my hand in the air in a gesture meant to encompass all that was him. “I need a nice, boring guy. Maybe another accountant. Or an actuary. Someone like that.”

“How much did he get?”

I sat back, startled. All the smooth had drained from his face. It was like looking at a different man. His arresting green eyes were narrowed, his lips tight. He looked pissed and even though I knew it wasn’t directed at me, he was a little scary. Why had I told him that? My most humiliating secret and I blurted it out to a complete stranger? I had second thoughts about ordering another drink.

“Ten thousand,” I mumbled, flushing with embarrassment. I’d been stupid, and I’d paid for it.

“How did he get it?” His voice was hard. Uncompromising. I thought about not answering, but I didn’t have it in me to stay silent, especially not with that commanding tone in his luscious voice.

“It was a back-up savings account. Not the one attached to my checking. But it had a bank card. I never used the card, and all the info was in a file in my office. He found it and stole the card. Then he made the maximum withdrawal every day until it was empty. I only check the account once a month, so I missed it. I feel so stupid.”

To my horror, I felt another tear escape from the corner of my eye. He reached up and brushed it away with one warm, gentle fingertip.

“Don’t cry,” he said. “Did you go to the police?”

“They weren’t that interested. He said it was a gift, he had the card and the PIN, and we’d just broken up when I reported it. So they filed it as a domestic issue and suggested I sue him.”

“Did you?”

My shoulders slumped. “I started to. Then my lawyer found out that ‘Steven’ wasn’t actually Steven. And he’d disappeared. So there was no one to sue. And I was out the lawyer’s fees, which I couldn’t exactly afford with no savings to fall back on. I have a good job, but not good enough to replace ten grand overnight.”

I changed my mind about the drink and raised my hand to get the attention of the bartender. If I was going to get through this night, I needed another drink, stat. Something stronger than an appletini. Tequila? To my surprise, the god of a man sitting beside me took my hand in his and pulled it down before the bartender could notice.