Falling Under
Page 2

 Lauren Dane

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She pointed to a stool at the kitchen island. “Have a seat and tell me what brings you here at eleven in the morning.”
Ginger kept staring at Duke lovingly until Carmella sighed. “Ginger, leave the man alone.” So easy. Give her a bone and she’d love you forever.
“Aw she just wants some attention. It’s okay, I’ve got some.” Duke leaned down and gave Ginger enough scratches and rubs until she made a groaning sound of joy and fell over on her side.
Carmella wanted him to do something to her to make her create that sound too. And she bet he could. With any combination of his hands, mouth, and that roll of quarters he carried around in his pocket that was probably a cock that got shit done.
And as if he’d heard her thoughts, he flicked his gaze up from the dog to her and smiled, bringing a blush to heat her cheeks and neck.
“I have a proposition for you.”
She blinked, clearing her throat as she kept her hands busy putting teabags in the mugs. “You do?” If it had anything to do with his penis, she was ready to accept.
He touched her hand briefly. “Our accounts payable person just quit. As in she’s-moving-across-the-country-in-a-week-and-leaving-us high-and-dry quit. I know you did the books before for a few years and I hope you don’t mind, but I called your old boss and he had nothing but great things to say about you. Asa and I would really love it if you could take over as soon as possible as our office manager. It could be a win-win for us both. You need a job. We need an employee. We pay well. We have good benefits. The hours are pretty flexible.”
Ginger growl-barked and Duke’s attention shifted for a moment. “Oh, and we’re dog friendly so you could bring her with you if you wanted to.”
“You called my old boss? He’s my uncle. You know that, right?”
Duke laughed. “I did, yes. He told me several times, along with a few dire warnings that you were a good girl not to be messed with. He still had nothing but nice things to say about you. You have the experience we need. Our shop is bigger, but you understand the basics.”
Her uncle’s auto repair business had been a mainstay in North Seattle for thirty-five years. When the economy took a hit, he did too. And though things had begun to recover, he hadn’t ever been the same. It’d been hard to compete with the quick-serve corporate repair places, and in the end, after a few health scares, he’d taken it as a sign to close up and retire.
“He’s family, so he has to say nice things about me.” He was her mother’s brother, and more of a parent to her than her mother had ever been.
A job would be really good. She’d decided not to stay on when new management took over her uncle’s place after he sold it, fairly sure she and the new owner were a bad fit. Her unemployment was enough to keep the lights on, but not much more. She had savings, but preferred not to touch that if she could avoid it.
Duke’s smile was one of the sexiest things about him, she realized as she nearly poured boiling water on her hand instead of in the pitcher.
“You know the industry. We’re nice guys, I promise. We bring in food every Friday. Free soda in the fridge and ice cream bars in the freezer. I did mean it about the dog friendly thing. One of our guys has a Jack Russell terrier. Xena, as in the warrior princess? She hangs out a few days a week. She’ll love Ginger. What do you say?”
Carmella should say that being in routine, close quarters with Duke Bradshaw was bad for all her promises to stay away from bikers and grease monkeys and the like. It wasn’t that she couldn’t see his appeal. No, it was the opposite.
He was pretty much a total package. Tall, he stood well over six feet. He was handsome. Like really handsome in that rugged, works with his hands way, which in her opinion was the best kind of man. Duke wouldn’t be thrown off by hard work. If something broke, he got it fixed. Broad shoulders, work-strong muscled arms and legs. She’d seen him in enough T-shirts to know he had detailed ink on his arms and belly. A really flat belly too. He moved with confidence, like he always knew exactly where he was going and how to get there.
Duke was at ease with himself. That sort of confidence was a sensual punch to the gut. She knew she wasn’t alone in liking him. Friends were often at his house on the weekends and in the evenings. Never so rowdy she considered calling the cops. Always cleaned up afterward.
He owned his business. Owned his home and a number of vehicles. At times he had a slow as molasses delivery with a hint of New England. And then he’d say right on like some sort of Zen surfer.
No matter what he said, he said it and made her hot and wet and tingly.
On top of all those things? He had an amazing ass.
She was beyond any ability to deny his appeal. If she could have ticked a bunch of her favorite man-type things and that was rendered human, it would look a hell of a lot like the guy in her kitchen just then.
And none of that erased the fact that she couldn’t afford a man like him. Her mother would love him, which was Carmella’s general meter for acceptability in a gentleman companion. The more Virgie approved, the less suitable the guy would be. She’d loved Carmella’s ex-husband too and look where that had gotten her.
But he wasn’t there asking her to nail him. He was offering her a job. And damn if she didn’t need one of those. The number he’d rattled off as a starting salary was higher than her old job. She needed the benefits and the income, and he was right—she was familiar with the industry so it would probably be pretty easy to get started.