Body Shot(2)

By: Kelly Jamieson

And Hayden had left the job she’d gotten right out of college to start her own business. She’d believed in what she was doing when others had been skeptical, and she was on the verge of huge success, but the hours she was putting into that meant she had no time for the latest fashions or makeup.

So with their achievements, they could both thumb their noses at the kids who’d made fun of them and shunned them in school. But they didn’t, because who had time for that? Or maybe the truth was that deep down beneath all their successes remained two awkward, socially insecure misfits.

“I miss you too,” she said sincerely to Carrie. “But you’re almost as busy as I am.”

“Let’s go out Saturday night.”

How could she say no? “Okay. Where?”

“I don’t know. I’ll find something fun for us to do.”

Hayden smiled despite the feeling that she was being pulled away from what was really important. “Great.”

After lunch, Hayden and Carrie parted on the sidewalk, heading to their respective cars. Hayden had parked farther down the street and she set out at a quick pace, nearly late for her one-thirty meeting with Richard, the treasurer of Vanguard Corp, and Kim, her secretary. After that, she had a three o’clock meeting with one of her research teams about a project, and then she needed to get some work done on the presentation she would be giving at an upcoming health-care conference. She checked emails on her cellphone as she strode along the sidewalk. She frowned at her phone, reading about a problem with the…wham!

Hayden bounced off a signpost, dropped her phone, and, reeling, lost her balance. Pain shot through her shoulder and she started to fall backwards, anticipating the smack of concrete on her butt, when strong arms caught her.

“Whoa, there.” A low, smoky voice spoke in her ear. She sagged against a big, hard body momentarily, her wits scattered. Then he carefully balanced her and held her upper arms to steady her. “You okay?”

She blinked, dazed. “Um. I think so.”

Another passerby handed her phone to her. She curled her fingers around it and shook her head.

“You hit that post going at a good clip.”

She sucked in a breath, heat washing over her, scorching her cheeks. “Oh my God. How embarrassing.”

A low chuckle made her toes curl. She lifted her gaze to the man’s face. Her insides heated too as she stared into the eyes of a stranger…deep, molasses brown eyes. A short, dark beard and mustache covered his square jaw, revealing perfectly carved lips now quirked in a sexy smile. His brown hair was pulled back off his face, emphasizing high cheekbones.

“I’m more worried that you’re hurt.” Concern etched a line between dark eyebrows.

She tried to swallow and couldn’t, now aware of wide shoulders, a snug T-shirt that revealed rounded biceps with tattoos curving around one of them, lean forearms, and big hands holding her.

Good Lord, he was gorgeous. Her tongue swelled up and went dry, and her heart accelerated into warp speed. Her eyes widened and she stared at him like a speechless cliché.

“Are you okay?” he repeated.

She nodded, blinking rapidly, afraid she might literally swoon at his feet. “Fine.”

“You seem dazed. Did you hit your head?”

“I have no idea.” Oh my God. She was an idiot.

His forehead creased more. “That’s not good. Maybe you have a concussion. We should get you to a doctor.”

“No! No, I’m fine. I didn’t hit my head.” She lifted a shaky hand to touch her forehead, then lowered it to rub her shoulder. “I think I hit the post with my shoulder. It just…startled me.”

His gaze dropped to her shoulder, skimming over her breasts. He’d quickly averted his eyes from her chest but she knew he’d looked. And her nipples tingled in response.

What the hell was wrong with her?

“Can you move it?”

“Move what?” She stared up at him. Way up, since he was way tall.

“Your shoulder.”

She closed her eyes briefly. He must think she was the biggest idiot ever.

She carefully circled her shoulder. “Yes. I can move it. I’m sure it’s just bruised.”

Tingles slid over her skin as she became aware he was still holding her arms.

“Okay.” He took a step back, releasing her.

Hayden looked down at the phone in her hand. “My phone is cracked!” Dismay filled her. “Oh my God, my phone!” It was her lifeblood. She couldn’t live without her phone. “What time is it?”

She didn’t even wear a watch, relying on her phone to know what time it was and alarms to remind her of meetings and appointments.