The Perception

By: Adriana Locke

This book is dedicated to Kari March.

You’ve taught me so much in the years we’ve known each other. You’ve redefined my understanding of loyalty and friendship; you’ve given me so many reasons to smile.

You are one of the smartest, most creative, most giving people I’ve ever known. I am so blessed to call you a friend and my partner-in-crime.

Max was yours before anyone knew he even existed. I hope you enjoy this story.


Well, well, well. What do we have here?

I spotted a woman standing in front of her car a few spots from mine in the parking lot. Her head in her hands, she stared at the front of her vehicle. I just finished my meeting and really wanted to go back home, but I couldn’t leave a woman stranded in the heat.

Not with a clear conscience.

And not with an ass like that.

“Somethin’ wrong?” I asked, shutting my truck door behind me and walking slowly towards the brunette.

She turned her head and a smile slowly spread across her pretty face. She stood, wiping her hands down the sides of her green workout shorts. Her body was lean and tight and I wanted to run my hands all over it.

She was little as hell, probably a good foot shorter than my 6’2” frame. Her tight white tank top showcased her breasts in the best way possible. Her hair was piled on top of her head, strands sticking to the back of her neck.

Her smile grew wider as I made my way across the parking lot. Sweat dotted her smooth, tanned skin and she wiped her brow with the back of one hand.

The beauty raised her eyebrows, her green eyes lighting up. “My car won’t start.” She ran her gaze down my body, making little effort to conceal the fact that she liked what she saw.

That makes two of us.

I flashed her a smile and cleared my throat. I needed to focus, but that was easier said than done. The last thing I wanted to do was come across like Cane, my friend with no couth.

“What seems to be the problem?” I unlatched the hood and raised it open.

“I turned the key and got nothing but a buzzing sound,” she huffed, crossing her arms in front of her.

I looked up, the movement catching my attention, and my gaze landed right on her chest.

“What are you looking at?” she asked cheekily.

“Nothin’ you shouldn’t be proud of.” I blew out a breath and laughed.

She giggled and I immediately wanted to hear it again. I wanted to make her giggle, to see that smile, over and over.

Trying to put some distance between us, I made my way to the side of the car. I felt her eyes on me, the smell of her coconut perfume messing with my mind. I needed to focus on the task at hand and not on the thing I wanted to be handling.

Damn, I’d love to handle that little body.

I checked the battery and saw the problem right away. I tightened the loose cable and checked the other before standing back up. I leaned against the car and folded my hands in front of me. I had to figure out how to play this to my advantage. My mind raced through possibilities and I shot her a serious look.

“This is just my luck,” she said, reading way too much into my expression. “And I thought this week couldn’t get any worse.”

“Wanna talk about it?” I grinned, watching her cute-as-hell act. I didn’t know what her week had been like, but I knew I was more than willing to take her mind off of it for a couple of hours.

“So you’re a mechanic and a counselor?”

“I can be whatever you want me to be.”

Her mouth twisted in amusement, her eyes lighting up. “Is that so? You’re a jack-of-all trades then, Mr.—”

“I’m Max Quinn, the man that can service any and all of your needs.”

She laughed, her cheeks blushing. “Okay, Max. The first need I have is getting this car running.”