He’d learned a long time ago to stay away from women this gorgeous, especially ones with angry eyes that burned him down in consuming flames of fire. Under other circumstances, if she wasn’t his best friend’s sister, if she wasn’t so damned stunning, he’d jump her bones the first chance he got.
Johnny knew he was in over his head. Should he accept the job and help this woman, or bury himself in yet one more bottle and drink himself senseless?
“Look, mister, you’re either going to help me or you’re not. Which is it going to be? Don’t waste my time!”
Natalie was livid. She’d come all this way on a recommendation from her brother. And this is what she got. Unkempt. Unshaven. A definite lowlife, she decided. Even so, there was a dangerous element lurking in his dark eyes that made her shudder. Maybe this was the kind of man she needed to find Audrey. Nevertheless, when she got her hands on her brother, she was going to hurt him bad if this was another one of his silly jokes.
She eyed the man who sat at the table pouring another shot of Jack Black into a glass, tossing it down his throat like water and wondered what Justin had been thinking. It wasn’t like him to steer her wrong. But this! This poor excuse for a man was supposed to be a professional private eye. Instead, he looked like something the cat thought about dragging in but decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
Deliberately, Johnny reached for the pack of Marlboros lying on the table. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t take another drag of the nasty things, but this babe stretched him to the limit. He took his time lighting his cigarette, studying her through the blue smoke he blew out as she planted her palms on the table where he sat. She was hissing like some bad-ass alley cat. He took a deep drag just to irritate her, his lungs welcoming the nicotine it had been deprived of.
He poured another Jack and downed it, lifting a brow in enquiry. Angry. Nervy. He wondered what other qualities dear Justin’s sister possessed.
When Justin had called him, filling him in on the details of his sister’s friend—that she’d disappeared from the face of the earth—he was just doing an old buddy a favor. They’d gone through four years of college together, then endured the rigorous studies of law school in each other’s company. They’d both gone on to working at prestigious law firms. But something had happened along the way.
It was Johnny who had faltered. He’d been crazy in love and popped the question way too soon. They were to have a short engagement, then one day his lady love went missing. All evidence had pointed to a kidnapping. For days, he’d desperately turned over every rock he could find, then two weeks later found his bride to be willingly ensconced in a hideaway cabin in the hills of Tennessee with her new husband.
Devastated, he began to drink, relying on a temporary fix of amber liquid to drown his pain. He lost his job, then somewhere along the line, Justin had rescued him and put him back on his feet. For that he was grateful. Knowing he no longer wanted to practice law, Johnny became a private detective as his career alternative.
And now this walking dream needed his services.