Rule number one: Never buy cheap shoes! Jina cursed herself every step of the steep drive as the shoes she’d bought yesterday, specifically for this event, squished and squeaked in the rain.
Rule number two: Never believe the weather forecast! No rain until this evening, the guy had said. Sunny with a bit of clouds, he’d said! Have a good day, he’d said!
Jina was not having a good day. There was no sunshine with a bit of clouds and she was going to take a hammer to these shoes because simply tossing them into the garbage would never be satisfying enough for the torture her poor toes were enduring right now as she made her way up the steep hill.
Rule number three: Anticipate cobblestone sidewalks!
“Whoever built this sidewalk should be shot and tortured,” she mumbled as she pulled her trench coat closer. Her hands were shivering as she held her umbrella over her head, dodging lakes masquerading as puddles and cursing herself for taking this assignment.
Actually, that was a stupid thought because she was too new at her job to jeopardize her reputation by not accepting an assignment. As a translator, and a new one at that, she had to build up her client list before she could get picky about who she worked for.
Oh, that would be a nice fantasy! Some women dreamed about marrying a man and having kids, the white picket fence and a dog running around catching a Frisbee. Jina dreamed about becoming one of the best translators with a client list that would allow her to raise her hourly rate to the point where she could take a taxi to each assignment. With great shoes!
Jina was so wrapped up in her fantasy world that she didn’t hear the motors coming up behind her. To be fair, the rain was pouring down so hard that, even if she had been focusing, she probably wouldn’t have heard them coming up the curving driveway.
The only reason she realized they were there was because they zoomed past her. And in the process, the first vehicle hit one of those puddle-lakes full on, dousing her body in cold rainwater.
At the first contact, Jina froze, unable to believe, or even understand, what had just happened. Then the second vehicle passed by and she was once again doused. The vehicles were moving so quickly that the icy rainwater hadn’t had a chance to re-fill the puddle so only her feet were splashed this time.
Unfortunately, the second splash caused her to turn in horror and fury, facing the threat head on. Big mistake! The third, and largest, vehicle roared passed, a long, black limousine with tinted windows and really heavy tires. The rain had once again drifted into the depression of the driveway and…wham! The rainwater splashed the front of her, some even reaching up to her neck.
Jina closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as she endured the icy trickles of water seeping down her neck, under her black dress and between her breasts…stopping when the droplets soaked onto the material of her bra.
“Fabulous!” she hiss furiously.
By the time the fourth vehicle came through, she had the presence of mind to jump backwards, out of the way of the water. Thinking she’d finally avoided calamity, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, the fates were not finished laughing at her this morning. The cobblestone sidewalk was lined with holly bushes. Perhaps they were planted for security reasons. But as Jina stumbled backwards, her heel unable to find solid ground, she had the sneaking suspicion that the holly bushes had been planted there just to further her own humiliation. Down she fell, an ignominious heap of cold, angry woman battling a prickly bush. And losing the battle!
“You’re kidding me!” she yelled, then froze. Anytime she moved, another prickly leaf poked through the material of her coat and dress. There were prickles all over her head and neck and she couldn’t even grab onto something to pull herself up because…everything had prickles! She was stuck! She was furious and she wanted to kick some butt. Preferably the butt of the man or woman who had so rudely driven past her, splashed her with pre-winter rain and then created a situation where she’d fallen into this mess.
Carefully, ever so slowly, she wiggled her way closer to the dirt.
Jina was cursing silently when strong hands wrapped around her wrists, lifting her effortlessly out of the prickly, wet mess.
“Whoa!” she gasped, feeling like she was flying for a moment until her feet were once again on the ground, strong, firm hands moving to her waist to steady her and she blinked, trying to understand what had just happened.
“Are you okay?” a deep voice said.
Jina looked around, trying to identify the voice. But in the place where the face of her rescuer should be was only a chest. Looking higher…and higher still, she finally looked into the dark, almost black eyes of the man attached to the hands that were still attached to her waist.
“Whoa!” she said again, but this time her astonishment was caused by the instant impact of this man’s eyes on her. It wasn’t exactly like an electric shock. It was more along the lines of a hammer slamming into her chest. And pounding repeatedly. Faster and faster.
Oh, that was probably her heartbeat, she finally thought, still staring up at the man.
Malik looked down at the gloriously wet woman with the most astonishingly beautiful eyes. And stared. He probably looked like a fool, but he simply couldn’t tear his eyes away from hers. She was beautiful. When she uttered the surprised word, his focus was pulled away from those amazing, crystal blue eyes…her mouth was a work of art, he thought. Small, rosebud lips with a full, pouting lower lip that he instantly wanted to taste, to nibble on. His hands shifted slightly as he realized that he wanted to nibble and taste everywhere on this delectable woman’s body. Those eyes! Dark lashes only made the light blue color look almost mystical. And the slant of her eyes made one think of a witch. A seductive, magical witch that could spirit his soul away and he wouldn’t give a damn!
When he realized where his fanciful thoughts had taken him, he laughed softly. Scarlett would be proud of him with all of those ridiculous thoughts. But as he stared down at this woman, he didn’t feel ridiculous. He wanted her.
He would have her.
“Are you okay?” the deep voice asked.
Was she okay? Jina had no idea. She couldn’t feel her toes. She had water dripping down her neck once again because the water droplets from the horrible holly bush had dripped onto her face and neck, her hair probably looked a fright, her face was so wet that her mascara was most likely smeared over her cheeks and…was something sticking out of her head?