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the hero, Darryl Bachmann
Ex-Marine intelligence officer Darryl Bachmann is in Italy to start his dream job as a transporter for STORM Corps, the prestigious private special ops company his former commander is heading up. His first assignment? To pick up a lady scientist at the airport. Easy, right?
Dr. Linnea Gordon might look like a lab mouse in her file photo, but in person, her curves are more deadly than anything Darryl has ever encountered on the road. When someone steals her suitcase—containing the new top-secret drone system she is bringing to his boss—Darryl must jump in to save her and the project, and whisk them away to the safety of a cozy seaside hotel…all while trying to resist the temptation of those amazing—and dangerous—curves.
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With as much dignity as she could muster, Linnea lowered herself into the passenger seat of the sports car.
It wasn’t easy. The thing was as low-slung as a damned dachshund. She wasn’t super tall, but she felt like a giraffe folding herself into the deep, luxurious seat. Once there, it felt really nice, though. And it smelled good, too. Like a new car.
It smelled even better when Darryl slid gracefully into the driver’s seat—good grief, how did he even fit?—after tucking her carry-on into the front trunk of the car. She recognized the expensive European men’s fragrance he wore, though she couldn’t put a name to it. She’d forever associate the scent with the elegant men in the hushed paneled elevators of the posh hotels she and her parents had stayed in during that fateful summer vacation ten years ago.
Surprisingly, the scent triggered only good memories. She’d been just sixteen then, shyly budding into her womanhood, and the European men they’d encountered at every turn had been charming and flattering, directing an undercurrent of sexual interest toward her that had been both flustering and flattering. Not to mention highly arousing to a young girl with dreams of being swept off by an honest-to-goodness prince charming. It happened in the movies all the time, so why not to her, too?
In the end, she would much rather have been rescued by a genuine hero than a useless prince.
A lot of her childish fantasies had been crushed to dust that summer.
But the smell of that sexy cologne took her body back to before that all happened. Against her better judgment, it got her juices flowing and her foolish imagination creeping into the kind of fairytale territory far better left slumbering in its stone tower high above the grey clouds of reality.
She’d learned years ago there were no such things as princes…or heroes. A girl just had to learn to do the rescuing herself.
She turned to Darryl and forced a smile. “Sorry I snapped at you, Mr. Bachmann. I was—” Worried about her life’s work? Freaked out by being in Italy again? Mortified by being so turned on by him and the scent of his damned cologne? “It was a long flight,” she finally managed.
He pushed a button and the engine roared to life as he returned a smile that actually seemed sincere. “No worries, doc. And if we’re going to be hanging around together for the next two weeks, you better call me Darryl.”
She blinked. Momentarily distracted from him calling her doc again.
“T-two weeks? You a-and me?” she stammered in disbelief.
No. That was not possible. She’d be a hot mess if she had to share space with that ridiculous body and that impossible cologne for more than a few hours.
“Sure. Buckle up, ma’am. Safety first.” He looked at her expectantly.
She stared back at him. “W-why would we be hanging around together?”
His brows flickered, and when she still didn’t move, he calmly leaned across her and reached for the seatbelt himself. As he grasped it, he said, “Didn’t they tell you?”
Fireworks were suddenly going off in her whole body. He was so close he was practically touching her. Hell, he was touching her. His broad shoulder was brushing hers, and oh, my God, his chest was pressing lightly against her breasts.
No wonder she was feeling fireworks.
She felt like Marvin the crash dummy. Her body was frozen in place, her muscles unable to move even a millimeter. Not even to answer his question. If it was a question. She wasn’t sure. Because that damned cologne had invaded her senses. And then he turned his head and was looking at her with a weird expression on his handsome face…that was actually more rugged and tan and windswept than classically handsome, which was, naturally, even more attractive in her eyes. And like Marvin, she could clearly see the terrible crash coming right at her, lethal and heart-wrenching and life-altering, but was unable to do a damned thing about it.
Somehow, she managed to pry open her mouth and croak out the words, “Tell me what?”
She felt the seatbelt stretch across her body, but for the life of her she didn’t know how, because he wasn’t moving away. If anything, his body pressed infinitesimally closer into hers. His warmth invaded her, making her shiver, and his breath whispered across her face.
“This is your test vehicle,” he murmured, the dark rumble of his voice penetrating the deepest reaches of her insides. Just the car engine, she told herself, though she knew that was a lie.
Slowly, his gaze dropped to her lips. Which parted all on their own in horrified delight.
The seatbelt closed with a deafening snap. Her body jerked, brushing against his just hard enough there was no way he could miss feeling her pebbled nipples.
Her pulse zinged into hyperspace. Ohgod-ohgod-ohgod.
“Yeah. And I,” he said, meeting her desperate gaze again, “am your assigned transporter.”