Bar owner Marco Vargas isn’t exactly the chivalrous type, but when a runaway bride hijacks his motorcycle on the Vegas strip, he can’t seem to tell her to leave.
Despite her being nowhere near his type, he’s surprised that he’s attracted to her. When it becomes clear she needs some time to lie low, he reluctantly offers her a job.
Lingerie HeiressBrandy Summers isn’t just hiding from her increasingly aggressive groom, but also the media who is trying to find her. Fortunately, no one at Dante’s—the bar she’s taken a job at—seems to realize who she is. Still, when a co-worker offers to make her over, she figures it’s the smart thing to do.
Soon the simmering attraction she shares with Marco is at a full boil, and she quickly discovers how fun being a little bad can be.
When Marco learns just who she really is, everything changes. And he fears the day she might learn about the dark secret he’s been hiding.
What neither of them could anticipate were the dangerous steps her jilted groom—who owes money to some terrifying people—would take to get her back.
Marco Vargas tried to block out the mind-numbing traffic and cursed his stupidity again. He should have known better than to get on the Strip this time of day.
But he’d been so busy thinking how to drum up more business for the bar on weeknights, that he’d turned right onto Las Vegas Boulevard instead of taking the back roads to his home in Henderson.
And now he was suffering for it. Not just with the traffic, but also with the crazy ass summer heat. At least the Boulevard had eye candy of all varieties, from the ladies rolling into the town for bachelorette parties to the half-naked showgirls on the billboards.
Speaking of which…he glanced at one such billboard, taking in the display of barely covered tits and ass.
He shook his head, realizing where his mind had gone. Damn, he really needed to get laid if he was getting turned on by a god damn billboard.
Looking away, he waited for the light to turn green, the vibrations of his bike causing him to zone out.
There was a sudden flash of white out of the corner of his eye. He turned to investigate, just as a blur of fluff launched itself onto the back of his bike.
“Go! The light’s green,” the fluff—which sounded suspiciously like a woman—yelled.
Marco turned around to get a look. What was this? Some weird attempt at a motorcyclejacking?
But all he saw were wide blue eyes staring out at him from behind a stained veil.
“Great,” he muttered. “Just what I need. A runaway bride.”
Their gazes locked for a few seconds and then she blinked, still looking desperate.
“Please!” she cried, grabbing the sides of his t-shirt and jerking. As if that were the magic way to make the motorcycle move. “Go!”
Don’t get involved. Tell her to get off your bike and drive away.
Her panic increased visibly—she must have realized he was about to throw her off his bike.
“Please,” she begged. “I’ve got money. Lots of it. I’ll pay you.”
He’d been there, done that with women and money. It did little to sway him. In fact, it was more of a deterrent.
“And I’ll buy you a beer.”
Oh yes, because beer was the magic word. The cars behind him were laying on their horns, swerving around to pass him in the other lanes.
He glanced backward and spied one of those cheesy wedding chapels. A man in a tux burst through the doors, making his way toward them.
Love muffin? Marco’s lip curled in disgust.
Her fiancé called her love muffin? His pity level increased a notch.
Damn, he was not a pity guy, what the hell was he doing?
Marco cursed, even as he reached behind the woman to grab a spare helmet. He thrust it towards her. “Pull your dress up so it doesn’t get caught in the bike.”
He waited for her to roll the acres of fabric up over her legs and out of danger from the chain and exhaust pipes.
Fortunately, the ditched groom was still wading through a throng of tourists.
After she had on the helmet and her arms wrapped around his waist, he rolled back the throttle and sped them through the light.
She tightened her grip, and he could’ve sworn he heard her sob in relief. Or maybe it was fear. Who the fuck knew.
She damn well better make good on that beer. He sure as hell would need one after this.
He weaved in and out of lanes, leaning the bike more than once while he did so. His scowl tipped into a smile when the woman’s arms tightened around his waist and she started screaming something at him.
Fortunately, he couldn’t really hear what she said with the helmet on.
Where did she want him to take her anyway? She hadn’t given him any instructions, but he assumed she was probably staying at a hotel on the Strip.
He pulled into the parking lot at one of the big hotels and found a spot to park. The woman couldn’t climb off his bike fast enough.
She removed the helmet, which didn’t even appear to be on right, and then threw it at him.
He caught it before it could slam into his chest, and met her fierce glare.
“Who on earth gave you a license? That was the—the worst driving I’ve ever—” she paused taking in a shaky breath. “We could have been killed!”
Wait a minute, he’d just saved her ass and now she was going to go ape shit on him? Hmm. The whole I have money part ran through his head.
Pampered and sheltered. He’d wager his next paycheck on it.
“Let me guess, princess. It’s your first time on a motorcycle?” he asked, giving her a tight smile as he climbed off the bike.
“Yes. Not like that has anything to do with it.” She folded her arms across her chest and her glare screamed disapproval.
They weren’t quite eye to eye, but she was only a couple of inches short of being so.
She looked kind of cute in an angry, fluffy marshmallow kind of way.
He took a deep breath in, and the sudden smell of apples tickled his nose. Apples? Who the hell smelled like apples? He shook his head.
“It has everything to do with it. Besides, you’re the one who jumped on my bike,” he pointed out.
He slid a glance down her body, not like he could see much.
God damn that was an ugly dress. And couldn’t she at least take off the veil?
He had no idea of what her face looked like, just those big blue eyes.
Well, if she wouldn’t do it.
He reached forward and tugged the veil off of her head.
The woman gasped and reached to grab it, but he already had the veil firm in his grip.
Frizzy brown hair fell down her back as the bun came loose, while her pale blue eyes shot looks of indignation at him.
Well, at least she was nowhere near his type. Except…those lips weren’t bad. So full, and pulled tight in a cute little frown.
She grabbed his helmet before he could stop her, and pried it off his head.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I showed you mine,” she said pointedly and let her gaze rove over his face, her expression was grim. “Hmm, just as I suspected. You’re attractive.”
“What?” He tried to decide how that was relevant, even as a spike of pleasure ran through him at her words.
“Never mind, forget I said anything.”
“Okay. What’s your name?”
Marco lifted an eyebrow. Now that was a stripper name if he’d ever heard one. Not for one minute did he actually believe she worked as one, but it would be kind of fun to poke the bear.
“Is that your stage name?”
“My stage name? Why would I have a…” She took a loud, outraged breath and her breasts rose impressively under the dress. “You think I’m a showgirl?”
“Stripper, actually. I mean, with tits like that, I get it. Not to mention you said you had money.” He grinned. “I know a stripper can really bring in the dough tip-wise.”
Her eyes bugged out, shining bluer against the red flush on her face.
“I bet you give a great lap dance, Brandy.”
“Lap dance? Oh my god. I am not a stripper.” She tossed her curls over her shoulder—which just made her hair grow frizzier—and offered up another fierce glare.
“Oh, Jesus,” he breathed under his breath.
“I am not a stripper,” she repeated, slow and precise. “I am a high school choir teacher.”
His brows drew together. A choir teacher? Hell, when was the last time he’d met a choir teacher? But in an odd sense, it fit.
He folded his arms across his chest. “All right, Miss Choir teacher, why did you run from your wedding?”
She blinked, and then looked away. “What makes you think I’m running from my wedding?”
“Are you shitting me right now?” His eyebrows shot up. “The fact that you’re in a wedding dress is a pretty good clue. So either you A: married the guy and decided to take off without him. Or B: left him hanging at the altar.”
She stayed silent for a moment before she gave a short nod. “B.”
“Ah.” He shifted. Definitely the more complicated answer. “Do you…want to borrow my cell and give him a call? Or have a phone buried in your dress somewhere? Or leave him a message at the hotel or something?”
“Why would I contact him?” She reared back, alarm in those pretty blue eyes now.
“Well, what’s your plan from here?”
“Plan? Yeah, like I really had a plan when I bailed on my wedding.” She drew her lip between her teeth and frowned. “I just…need time to figure things out.”
His gaze dropped to her mouth. How did she make that look so seductive? The biting-the-lip thing.
“Do you want me to drop you off at your hotel?” His voice came out a little gruffer than intended.
“No.” She gave a quick shake of her head. “That’s the first place Gordon will look for me.”
“Gordon? No wonder you ran.”
“Nice.” She wrinkled her nose at him and then sighed. “I…I, oh god, I don’t know what to do.”
She looked so lost, so uncertain, that the pity returned in full force.
He thrust a hand through his hair and took a deep breath, not sure how to deal with a runaway bride.
Pity wasn’t exactly a familiar emotion to him. He was a born and bred hard ass. But the idea of just ditching her….
So much for heading home and watching the game.
“Well, you do owe me that beer, princess.”
Those full lips came together in a perfect ‘O’ shape. His attention lingered there a little too long.
She may not be his type, but her mouth sure was. Oh, the things she could do with a mouth like that.
His teeth snapped together.
Stop with the perverted thoughts.
She seemed a bit surprised by the offer, but also relieved. The visible tension in her body eased and she fidgeted with the front of her dress.
“Okay. Where did you want to go?”
“There’s a bar in the hotel. You up for it?”
“I’m…yeah.” She nodded. “I’m up for it.”
He hooked their helmets over the back of his bike.
“You haven’t told me your name yet.” She pointed out as they walked to the elevators that led down to the casino.
“Vargas. Did you want to do a background check on me?” he drawled.
“Vargas from Vegas? Cute.”
“Oh wow, that’s funny. I’ve never heard that one before.”
He shot her a hard look and she swallowed visibly.
“Okay. I guess if we go have a beer, I’ll have to assume you’re not dangerous.”
“Dangerous? Would you really have jumped my bike if you thought I was dangerous, Brandy?”
Interesting that she’d used that word. He raised an eyebrow as the elevator doors slid shut, sealing them in together.