As Hot as It Gets Page 2

“Don’t care. I’m not hungry. I’m tired. You know, because someone rudely dragged me out of bed at eight o’clock on Saturday morning.” He paused. “Are you coming back here before work?”


“Fine. I guess you can bring me something to eat then.”

She choked back a laugh, not surprised by his complete one-eighty. Tired or not, teenage boys had voracious appetites, and at sixteen Danny ate like a damn horse. Her weekly grocery bill was proof of that.

“A food gesture will totes make me forget about being woken up today,” he added. “But I swear, Mia, if you lose your phone one more time, I’m gonna kick your ass.”

“Yeah, whatevs, dude. I’d like to see you try.”

“I’ll try and succeed,” he declared.

“Uh-huh. ’Kay. See you soon.”

She was smiling as she hung up. “Little brothers are such a pain in the ass,” she told her waiting stranger.

“Trust me, I know. I have a younger sister and she used to be a real pest. How old is your brother?”

“Sixteen. He can be a total shit sometimes, but for the most part, he’s a good kid.”

The man in front of her slid his hands into the pockets of his faded Levis. He filled out those jeans nicely, she noted. She was ridiculously tempted to ask him to do a little spin so she could check out his ass.

He’s not a piece of meat, Mia.

A sigh lodged in her throat. Nope, he wasn’t a piece of meat. And even if he was, she didn’t have time to indulge. Her chaotic life didn’t allow room for tall, handsome hotties who looked spectacular in a pair of Levis.

“So you’re doing some work for Tom and Sarah?” he asked.

“Yep. But the job’s all done, actually,” Mia replied. “Sarah didn’t want anything fancy, so it didn’t take long to finish everything up.”

The disappointment on his chiseled face was unmistakable, but his tone remained friendly as he stuck out his hand. “I’m Jackson Ramsey, by the way. I live next door.”

“Mia Weldrick. And I’d shake your hand but mine is all covered with dirt.”

“I don’t mind getting dirty every now and then.”

Mia’s breath hitched as he moved closer, a grin tugging on his lips. When he took her hand, heat suffused her cheeks, burning hotter when she registered the naughty undertones of that remark.

“Was that a line?” she demanded.

“Was what a line?”

“You know, the whole ‘I like it dirty’ thing. Was that supposed to get me all tingly and weak-kneed?”

Because it worked.

Jackson laughed, a deep, sexy sound that rippled between them. “I didn’t say I liked it dirty. I said I didn’t mind it. And no, it wasn’t a line.” He was smirking as he met her eyes. “Why, did it get you tingly and weak-kneed?”


She took a step toward her truck, turning her head just in case her eyes revealed the dishonesty of her response. She was feeling tingly. Her entire body pulsed with a strange rush of heat, all because of this man’s proximity. She hadn’t experienced a spark of attraction to anyone in months, maybe years, and she’d forgotten what it even felt like. But the symptoms were definitely hitting her hard at the moment.

“Would you like to have dinner with me sometime?”

The request was gruff and came out of nowhere, bringing a pang of agitation to Mia’s stomach.

“Oh boy,” she said with a sigh.

“‘Oh boy’?” He smiled at her again. “Is that how you respond to all your dinner invitations?”

“No. But that’s because I don’t get a lot of them,” she confessed. “I never go out, which means I don’t meet a lot of guys. Honestly, I’m unprepared for this.”

“Doesn’t require much prep, sugar. A yes or no would do the trick.”

She murmured another “Oh boy”, torn between lying and being brutally honest. In the end, honesty won out.

“Okay, I’m going to lay it all on the line,” she told him. “You’re wicked hot, and I’m totally digging the height thing. It makes me feel dainty.”

He chuckled. “All right…”

“But I don’t want to have dinner with you.”

“I see.”

The visible disappointment in his eyes had her hurrying on. “It’s nothing personal. I bet you’re a really awesome guy, and that Southern drawl is definitely a bonus, but I don’t have time to go out on dates. I have a gazillion jobs and a teenage boy to raise.”

“Your parents aren’t in the picture?”

Mia swallowed the bitterness that rose in her throat. “Nope, it’s just Danny and me. Which is why dating is the last thing on my mind right now, and probably won’t be until Danny graduates. So even though I’m flattered, I’m gonna have to pass.”

Honest-to-God regret washed over her, which was weird because she’d truly meant every word she’d said. She didn’t have time to date. Most days she wolfed down her meals in the company truck between jobs. And she was usually in bed by ten o’clock. When did she have time to get dolled up and share a nice dinner with someone other than her little brother?

The grim reality of her life only bummed her out, so she quickly pasted on a smile and took a step toward her pickup. “It was nice meeting you, but I’ve got to skedaddle now.”

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