I eased my silver Passat into a parking spot and pulled the post-it from my purse to check the Brooklyn address. Yep, this was the right place.
When Fiona called to tell me her guy was booked solid all week, but I could pick him up from a Friday afternoon shoot, I had doubts. How could I drive a guy out to the Hamptons, on the pretense of being my long-term boyfriend, without having ever met him before?
What had she gotten me into?
What had I gotten me into?
This place was a dump, D-U-M-P. Once it might have been a thriving pier-side warehouse, but all that remained was a weathered shell. Of the twenty windows in the crumbling red brick façade, three had glass in them. The remaining seventeen were either boarded up or broken out. The kind of place where nightmares were born.
Desperate for a sugar fix, I popped open the glove box and dug around for a Jolly Rancher. Watermelon. Exactly what I needed.
Never underestimate the therapeutic sounds of crinkling cellophane.
I had just popped the block of heaven into my mouth when someone tapped on my passenger side window. I screamed—like a horror movie heroine—and spat my Jolly Rancher onto the dashboard.
My heart pounded in sugar-rush-heavy thumps. Short black hair. Tanned olive skin. Bright blue eyes that shone like a blue raspberry Dum-Dum after it’d been sucked on for a while. All blended into a face of breathtaking proportion. He motioned with his hand to roll down the window. Half a lifetime of New York-learned safety melted away like wet cotton candy, and I complied.
“You Lydia?” he asked when the window lowered enough for his head to fit through.
“Y-yes.” I reached for the Jolly Rancher. Freeing the sticky pink block from the charcoal gray dashboard, I eyed it carefully before deeming it too grubby to eat.
“I’m Phelps.” He smiled—a broad, white-toothed smile that belonged in toothpaste commercials. And before I could remember that he was a model and might very well have been in countless toothpaste commercials, he lifted the handle and opened the passenger door. He settled into the leather seat and pulled the door shut, dropping a well-worn duffle bag on the floor. “Sorry I’m late.”
I got my first look beyond his beautiful, chiseled face. While he might be beyond reproach above the neck, the rest of him was another story. Clothed in some space age silver bodysuit, he looked like a Star Wars reject.
“What are you wearing?” I demanded.
Not the picture perfect boyfriend date I was paying for. He belonged at a Trekkie convention, not a Southampton soiree.
My Jolly Rancher and my career, both ruined.
“What?” He looked confused and glanced down at himself. “Oh yeah, I was working.”
“On what? A remake of Lost in Space?” I was beginning to think Fiona had overestimated his intellect.
But I didn’t have time to care. We were late already, so I put the car in gear.
“A cologne shoot,” he laughed, the kind that slipped in beneath your skin to tickle every feminine nerve ending. The kind that almost made me grin stupidly in return, despite the fact that Captain Kirk was my escort to the most important business function of my career.
I scowled. Men should not be allowed to use that kind of laugh on unsuspecting women.
“Don’t worry.” Phelps unzipped the duffel and produced a rolled up shirt. “I have plenty of time to get changed.”