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Publication date: September 1st 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Can a perky optimist and a moody bachelor overcome their differences to discover that opposites make the best matches?
I will let nothing get in my way as I navigate my demanding position on the Home Design Network, especially not a grumpy, gorgeous 6’4 man built like a tank. Jeremy Chance may resent that he’s been assigned to be my babysitter—and he voices it, rudely often enough—but as we tackle the job before us I can’t help but feel drawn into his quiet appeal.
Reasons I should never offer home repair help.
1. Everyone takes you and your time for granted
2. The job is never just fifteen minutes
3. The customer is ALWAYS right (especially when they’re WRONG.)
4. And now I’ve been saddled with an ambitious, take no prisoners workaholic who has no clue what she signed up for
But something about Sarah’s Hayes sweet, frazzled determination tugs at my well-buried heartstrings and I can’t stop myself from helping this hardworking charmer succeed.
Author’s Note: A steamy, swoony, laugh-out-loud workplace romantic comedy with a grumpy hero determined to save the day and a feisty heroine who is realizing that there’s more to her co-worker than just a man that can get the job done. This is a stand-alone romance with a HEA!
The eighty-five-degree heat combined with the storm that just hit was doing a number on my hair. Tendrils escaped the tight bun as soon as I walked out of arrivals and waited for my Uber driver. Thank God I had the sense to pack in my carry-on an extra set of clothes, toiletries, and black heels. You could never be too careful.
Living with Mom had prepared me for whatever eventuality might come up since she was always one foot out the door from being evicted or dumped. My go bag was always at the ready. I had planned to stop and leave my luggage at the hotel, but those plans were nonexistent now. I was already late—what a first impression.
The drive over to the new satellite office of the Home Design Network was undoubtedly fascinating. Colorful graffiti and street art decorated the buildings we passed. We drove by many repurposed warehouses now used for office space. Rolling my shoulders from the tension built up in the back of my neck when we passed tourists walking around in bikini tops and short shorts. Maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about the dress code after all.
My Uber driver, an older Cuban man, was silent during our drive over after we tried to communicate, but my high school Spanish was not cutting it. He must have read the word tourist tattooed across my forehead since he looked at me through the rearview mirror and warned me.
“Ten cuidado de noche. De día no es tan malo.”
“What? Mi español es…rusty? Are you telling me that it’s dangerous here?”
“Dangerous at night.” He said with a thick accent.
I smiled and nodded back at him, because all men saw was a defenseless young woman with victim potential. He hadn’t seen my knife with its removable box cutter blade, nor the Taser I usually had on me and would have if circumstances were different. But all of my self-defense tools were now in New York City in my checked luggage. And that’s if I’m lucky.
He stopped his SUV in front of an old industrial building in the Miami Design District. From what I read in the briefing it was once an old rum distillery, long abandoned, and now a shared office space concept. The open loft space would give us a place for potential clients and the design team to meet, plus a space to house the expensive video equipment and cameras. The painted white brick walls, massive archways, and attractive moldings would lend themselves well to our brand. I could see it already—grapefruit, orange blossom, and thyme, Home Design Network’s signature scents delivered by nanoparticles through air vents in the building. The decor of the front offices would be tasteful and modern. Our newest in-house designers made sure the branding was on point. When you arrived at reception, a wall of oversized screens played our top-rated shows on a constant loop and would greet the visitors to our satellite office.
As I stepped inside the building and rolled my suitcase behind me, the cool air of the building was such a contrast to the outdoor heat and humidity, a gruff voice interrupted my thoughts. “Took you long enough. You’re late.”
I swiveled to face the rude asshole who’d addressed me without even a proper introduction—and I froze in place.
Holy hot dog…
I looked up and up and up. His shaggy blond hair needed a haircut, a scruffy beard that hid a nasty scar from an old accident, a body built like a cover model of a romance novel the ones that show manchest. He was handsome, even with the scowl on his face. As Rebecca’s assistant, I knew who he was. I’d dealt with all the back-end stuff that had to do with the show she produced for Home Design Network. I was cognizant of every detail that had to do with our production and construction crew, and this was the brilliant but grumpy middle brother, Jeremy.
My mom’s first lesson for me was how to charm a man to get them to do whatever I wanted. Tanya Hayes’s problem comprised of once she got them, she couldn’t keep them.
I stuck out my hand, chin up, and full frontal with gritted teeth. I turned on the charm. “Hi, I’m Sarah Hayes. You must be Jeremy. Very sorry you had to wait. My luggage never arrived at Miami International, which caused me to get delayed when I needed to fill out the paperwork.”
He looked at my hand for a few seconds before deigning to shake it. What a complete jerk. His indignation at having to wait for me here was almost palpable.
I took in the open-aired center court area before me, potted tropical plants, an espresso bar for visitors, the common area furniture being a set of long sofas facing each other with padded cushions, and small tables with chairs placed at corners. And to think he’d been waiting all this time, here. What a hardship.
“My, my—this place looks like a real dump, and you’ve been here all this time. You should try being at the airport, where there were nowhere to sit while I waited for my nonexistent luggage. I had to stand for an hour just to put in a complaint about my missing suitcases.” Too late, sarcasm dripped from my every word.
It went over his head, or he didn’t care because he continued as if I just didn’t make him appear inconsiderate and self-absorbed for his comment. “Why didn’t you call? Let Rebecca know, so I didn’t have to wait over two hours. It’s what any considerate person would have done.”
Oh no, he did not just go there. After everything, I had been through today. I just had it with the impoliteness, and I had reached my tipping point. “Are you freaking kidding me? Rebecca was aware of the delay because of the weather. Since she texted me, I wrote to her about what was happening with my luggage situation. She did not make me aware of the fact that you were waiting or when you were supposed to come. So, if you want to file a complaint look to the one who’s footing the bill.”
He gave me a dumbfounded expression, his jaw clenched. We both knew he would not be complaining to Rebecca. I bet he didn’t see me coming. They never did.
Nikki Kiley is an aspiring author of Contemporary Romance. Since she was a young girl, she dreamt of writing stories that would entertain and move her readers, like she was and still is, by talented authors.
When not working the day job running a medical office, she spends hours crafting and writing stories about heroes and heroines earning their chance at love. She makes her home in Puerto Rico with her husband, two young adult children, and a gentle giant, the bull mastiff, Kira.
She loves the beach, her Nespresso maker, and cupcakes (S’more in particular).