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My place used to be a biker bar. I’d eased it more into a rustic country road juke joint after the drama from last year. There’d been a murder in the parking lot, and Cass had gotten dragged into it.

That’s how she’d met Connor, the bastard. It’s not that I didn’t like him, I did. But I didn’t want him to know it.

Not after he’d fallen for my girl.

Anyway, the place was much more mainstream these days. The bikers still came in, but not in droves. Now it was more of a colorful bar with damn good food. But try telling that to the ladies.

They wanted bikers and they weren’t shy about asking for what they wanted.

I was a biker, even though I wasn’t active in the club. I was a member for life, whether I liked it or not. Just wearing leather and having wheels was like catnip to these chicks. So, I spend a lot of time fending off advances. Some that were not too subtle.

At the moment, it was a woman named Mag who was making eyes at me from the other end of the bar. I kept moving so she couldn’t get too close. I could tell she wanted someone to get rough with her, and that had never been my idea of a good time, even back in the day.

I groaned, rubbing the back of my neck. I used to hide in my office if I got wind of a woman like Mag on the prowl. They were easy to spot, and Jaken warned me sometimes too. But until I hired more staff, that was going to be impossible.

It was still early and destined to get worse. I served another round and snuck up the stairs in the back to get some peace and quiet. I sat heavily in my old leather desk chair. It had conformed to my body over the years and was super comfortable. Almost an easy chair.

I’d even fallen asleep in it a couple of times.

Okay, more than a couple.

I had five minutes tops before I had to get back out to the floor. Jaken could run drinks and orders and man the bar for a little while. I closed my eyes and heaved a sigh of relief.

Of course, someone knocked at the door almost right away.

“Yeah?”

I tried not to sound surly but I was. I was surly.

“Boss? Someone here to see you.”

“Who?”

Jaken raised his eyebrows meaningfully.

“Someone about the ad in the paper.”

I sat up straight.

“Okay.” Jaken turned to go but I waved him back. “Wait. Anything I should know? Does she seem crazy?”

“Not even a little.”

“Anything else?”

He smiled.

“Well, let’s just say that if this one falls in love with you too, you won’t be complaining. I’ll send her back.”

I was still frowning over that last comment when I heard a soft rap at the door.

“Come in.”

The door opened and time stood still. I stared at the girl standing shyly in the entryway, my hand frozen in mid-air. Long auburn hair and hazel eyes in a heartbreakingly pretty face, with a sprinkle of freckles over the bridge of her dainty, slightly upturned nose.

I wasn’t thinking coherently, so that was all I saw. Until she moved. I cleared my throat and gestured to the seat.

“You can sit.”

She nodded shyly and took the seat opposite my desk. I barely had time to register the threadbare coat and long legs encased in faded jeans. She was thin. Nervous. She clutched a handbag on her lap, holding on for dear life.

Like her coat, the purse was beat up. But everything else about her was fresh as a daisy. Her shiny hair, her glowing skin.

I wondered how old she was. Mid-twenties, I thought. A couple of years older than Cassie.

Her clothes had seen better days but it only made her beauty more obvious. She was flawless. Neat as a pin. But it was the serious look in her eyes that took my breath away.

This girl was not about to start professing her love for me or modifying her uniform to show off her feminine assets. She was too shy and she had too much dignity. Her eyes said it all.

And the colors. Her eyes were a rich combination of green and gray and yellow. Not dark, like hazel tended to be. They were bright, lit up like the colors of mother nature in all her glory.

They actually sparkled.

“What’s your name?”

“Shell. Michelle.”

Her voice was soft and melodious. Sweet and feminine and alluring. It did something to me. Made me want to lean forward and hang on every word.

The name suited her, I thought. Shells were delicate and pretty, like her. And she looked like she was the type to take long walks on the beach.

I shook my head. I had to focus. She was pretty enough to be in one of those natural beauty commercials, but she was here for a job, not to be gawked at.


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