Nick Dawes just had to go and prove something to himself. The brilliant moneyman of the Hudson Kings is in deeeep trouble after losing $20 million during a “freelance” heist, and now a Russian crime boss wants the money and Nick’s head. Nick needs to make himself scarce—and find someone to babysit his fish. Someone like lush, gorgeous Jane MacGregor, who might just be the death of him . . .
After being swindled by her jerk of an ex, Jane can’t say no to house-sitting a luxurious Fifth Avenue penthouse. The only downfall—aside from Nick’s tendency to show up covered in bruises and blood—is an increasingly strong attraction to her superhot and expensively suited-up new boss. Never make the same mistake twice
But when Nick’s dangerous profession crashes in on Jane’s quiet little world, all hell breaks loose. And Jane is about to find out just what kind of man she’s falling for.
“Why did you stop being an office manager?” Mr. Dawes asked.
“Something happened,” Mr. Dawes prompted.
This clearly interested him. Oh, god, here we go. “I was an excellent office manager,” Jane said.
Oh, screw it. “I made the mistake of having a relationship with my boss. When it didn’t work out, he made things hard on me.”
A very long silence transpired.
Jane cleared her throat. “That wasn’t in the vetting, I guess. Was that too much or too little information?”
He cocked his head to the side.
Jane leaned forward. “I want you to know that I’m very experienced at handling the unusual. Change has never bothered me, I eat ‘transitions’ for breakfast, and I’m good with difficult men.”
Another long silence.
“Right. Difficult men,” Mr. Dawes said. “Listen, Jane, I need to be straight with you. Part of what I do requires that I hang out with dangerous people. Right now, some of those people aren’t too happy with me. I want to make it clear that I don’t expect any of them to come to my apartment. They are unhappy with me. Only me. But I thought you should know that . . .” He suddenly looked askance, his thoughts far away. “Shit, maybe this—”
Oh, no you don’t take this opportunity away from me! “You work with Cecily’s fiancé, Shane, right?”
“He’s a mercenary.”
Mr. Dawes hesitated, then: “Right.”
“I’ve been warned.”
“I don’t know what you were told, but—”
“Listen.” Jane felt a wave of emotion pass through her, and she knew Mr. Dawes didn’t miss it when her eyes flooded with tears. I need the money. I really, really need the money for Nana and a place to live so I can figure out what to do. “You have a situation,” she said, choking a little. “I have a situation too.”
Mr. Dawes kindly looked to the side while Jane successfully reined in the tears and pulled herself back from the weird vulnerability she’d just displayed. Suddenly he said, “Here are the instructions. What questions do you have?” He produced a piece of paper with a lengthy numbered list. It was very organized. The paper was thick, a creamy off-white, and, as an artist, Jane kind of hated that it was being used for house-sitting instructions. “When you get there, call this number, and I’ll walk you through the fish-tank protocol.”
Suddenly, he hesitated. “Some of the fish have already died. They’re still there. You’ll have to—”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it,” Jane said briskly. “Okay, so I should go there tomorrow? I should start tomorrow?”
“Yes.” Mr. Dawes handed over a key chain with three keys on it. “Door to building, door to apartment, door to downstairs mailbox. Got it?”
“Yes, Mr. Dawes,” she said as she took the keys.
His eyebrow raised, and a small smile crossed his face.
Jane reared back slightly. “Oh, should I call you something else?”
His smile got a little wider. “Definitely call me Mr. Dawes.”
Jane felt herself get a little hot. “Yes, sir.”
His smile apparently forgot itself and turned into a grin. “I’ll give you information for the delivery services I use. Buy whatever you need but don’t throw a party in my place, right?”
“Whatever I need? Like cleaning supplies? Or like fresh Maine lobsters?”
He actually shrugged. “Either. Whatever. Just no company. No parties.”
“I am one hundred percent not throwing a party at your place, Mr. Dawes, sir,” Jane said solemnly, enjoying the change in Nick Dawes’s expression every time she called him something fancy. “My number one job will be to make sure your fish don’t die.”
Wrong thing to say, apparently. Serious concern flickered in Mr. Dawes’s eyes. Jane quickly added, “And if you’ve been receiving regular cupcake delivery service or something, I’m not going to tell them to stop just because you’re not living there.”
He stared at her, and Jane thought she’d got him again, but then he frowned and said with some annoyance, “You were supposed to be—”
“Boring, just stupid enough, and unassuming,” Jane supplied helpfully.
He let out a snort.
“Did I just blow the interview?” Jane asked.
“I already gave you the keys,” Mr. Dawes faux grumped.
But you could take them back. Man, you’re adorable, Jane thought. I mean, you’re obviously gorgeous and rich, but you’re really worried about your fish.
The waitress appeared. “Hey. Got a to-go bag for you all ready, Nick.”
“Actually, I’m staying a little longer than I expected. Could you bring out a bottle?”
Jane raised both eyebrows. Okay, so I definitely nailed the interview.
“Red, dark fruit,” the waitress said, glancing over at Jane. “He hates Chianti.”
Noted, thought Jane. Mr. Dawes, sir, hates Chianti.
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