I’m so excited to share with you an exclusive sneak peek of my upcoming novel, Who Wants to Kiss a Billionaire? It’s book 2 in the Billionaires in New York series and follows Edward Marks and Catherine Fisher. If you haven’t already read book 1 in the series, check out this preview.
A not-so-cute meet-cute.
Catherine Fisher was running late. She tried to ignore the phone vibrating on the passenger seat of the Mercedes Benz, as she clutched the leather steering wheel for dear life. The wipers sped back and forth across the windscreen on the fastest setting but did little to clear her vision of the dark road. She squinted through the lashings of water hitting the window and tried to take shallow breaths to stop fogging up the glass.
She was just wondering how this day could get any worse when the engine made an odd judder that she had never heard before.
“No, no. Come on, please don’t break down.”
She stomped on the gas pedal as the engine fell silent and an eerie stillness followed.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she declared as the car rolled to a stop. Catherine huffed and turned her hazard lights on with a grumble. “Great. Just great.” She picked up her phone and looked at the screen.
Nine missed calls.
The car swayed slightly away from the heavy stream of traffic passing by. It was not wise to stay in a broken-down vehicle in the middle of traffic, especially in a thunderstorm. She grabbed her raincoat and pulled it over her head as she pushed open the door.
Catherine had never noticed the sound of rain before. But as the door flung open with a gust of wind, the heavy thudding was so loud it quickened her heartbeat. It was as if she had just walked into a shower on its most intense setting. The unearthly roar of the traffic and intense LED lights in the dark night sent Catherine’s senses into overdrive. She stumbled to the railings and clung onto the wet metal with one hand as she squinted through the rain to look at her phone.
“Of course,” she barked into the storm, waving her phone above her head as if her arm could act as an antenna and magically boost her signal. To her dismay, the gesture didn’t work and her beautifully styled dark hair was drenched.
“Hey there, need a hand?”
Catherine almost dropped her phone at the deep voice, calm and sure amongst the chaos as she whipped round to see the owner of it. A tall man towered over her with a casual smirk on his chiseled face. He was wearing a dark jacket and his jet-black hair shone in the streetlamps. A tall, dark and handsome stranger to the rescue.
How predictable, Catherine thought to herself as she studied the man. The downpour of constant rain had already soaked her to the bone, her raincoat clung to her arms like a second skin.
“Oh no, I’m fine,” Catherine shouted back, flashing her teeth at him. At that moment, her smile slipped as she lost grip of the metal railing and stumbled backward with a yelp. The stranger leapt forward and grasped her back, blinking raindrops out of his lashes as he beamed at her. Catherine gawped at him, clutching his firm biceps as she tried to ignore the fact that this mysterious man was embracing her like a long-lost lover.
“Are you okay?” he asked. Now he was closer, his deep voice rumbled against her eardrums. As if vibrations ran through his fingers to her whole body. She pushed her hands against his chest, and he let go.
“I’m fine. Don’t touch me,” Catherine said as she brushed off her pant legs with trembling hands. Her phone clattered to the ground.
Catherine and the mystery man stooped down at the same time to collect the phone and had bumped heads. Catherine wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.
Who is this guy?
She wondered if he was a true gentleman with no ulterior motive other than to help a person in need. Or a creep looking to take advantage of a vulnerable woman, broken down just outside New York City.
“I’m sorry, I was just trying to help,” he said, his brows pinched together as he puckered his lips as if expecting to have his photograph taken. The rain faded to a light spray and Catherine threw back her hood. She glanced at the phone on the floor before eyeing the man shrewdly. Dark hair curled around his ears and his baby blue eyes twinkled at her.
“I can take care of myself,” she said, indignant. She retrieved the phone from the road and looked at the screen. Still no signal.
The man folded his arms, his jacket scrunched up at the shoulders and a large dimple appeared on his left cheek as he grinned.
“I see that,” he said.
Catherine marched back to her car, puddles splashing under her feet. The man waited as she climbed in and tried to turn the ignition on again.
“Hmm, that’s not good.”
Catherine jumped and turned back to see the man stooping down to see inside the car.
“Do you mind?” She straightened and gave the man a hard look. His almond-shaped baby blues creased, and he backed away with his hands in the air.
“Do you need gas?” he asked. “I’ve got some in my trunk.”
Catherine tilted her head to the side.
“No, this is electric. It doesn’t use gas.”
“Really?” The man stepped forward with his brows knitted together. Catherine flinched and he stopped. “I thought this was the hybrid model.” He scratched his chin in thought as Catherine blinked at him, thinking.
The man snapped out of his thoughts and offered his hand. Startled, Catherine automatically took it, surprised at the roughness of his skin.
“I’m sorry. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m Edward, and I’m a—mechanic. I saw you broken down and thought I could be of some assistance.”
They shook hands and Catherine’s shoulders relaxed.
Oh, he’s a mechanic. Not a predator.
“I’m Catherine. Sorry. I don’t usually appreciate strangers coming onto me in situations like these.”
Edward’s brow raised as he smirked at her.
“Coming onto you?”
Catherine cleared her throat and let out a nervous laugh.
“You were saying something about a hybrid? Do you know what’s wrong with my car?” she said, in an attempt to steer the conversation away from her misreading his signals.
Edward nodded and walked away. Catherine watched him open up the trunk of his car and walk back with a gas container in his hand.
“You’re out of power. Thankfully I always keep a gallon of gas in my car. Just in case.”
“But it’s electric—” Catherine began as Edward leaned into the Mercedes and pulled a lever she hadn’t noticed before.
“This isn’t your car is it?” he said as he marched to the back of the car and unfastened the fuel cap.
“It’s a rental,” Catherine confessed. “I usually take the subway into the city.”
Edward focused on filling the tank, giving Catherine an opportunity to study him more closely. There was something off about his appearance. His gentlemanly manner with a posh British accent did not match his slouch jeans and scruffy jacket. A gust of wind shot past her, filling her nostrils with the woody scent of his cologne.
“That should be enough to get you to the station,” Edward said as he fastened the cap. He turned to Catherine and flashed her a broad smile. His teeth were so white and perfectly shaped, Catherine could not help but suspect they were veneers.
What kind of mechanic can afford a set of veneers?
“Thank you,” she said quickly, realizing she had been staring at him in silence. “Let me repay you for the gas…” she rooted through her wallet, but Edward placed his hand on hers, making her look up at him.
“That isn’t necessary. It’s always a pleasure to help a damsel in distress.” His eyes were as bright as a summer’s day and twinkled as he looked at her like a guardian.
Catherine hummed to herself with a slight frown.
“Do you make a habit of this? Looking for vulnerable women to save?” Catherine’s question was flippant, but she noticed the smile fade from Edward’s face, and he shifted his weight. Another gust of damp wind interrupted their conversation, and almost knocked Catherine off her feet. Edward launched forward again but she steadied herself and brushed him off.
“I need to go. I’m late.”
“Right. I’d love to see you again Catherine, maybe I can—”
“Oh no,” Catherine shook her head as she climbed into her seat. “I don’t think so.”
Edward followed and looked at her with his shoulders slumped and a huge frown on his beautiful face. Worry lines formed between his brows as he looked at her like she had just canceled Christmas.
“I’m sorry?” he said, stuffing his hands in his jean pockets. Catherine secured her keys in the ignition and turned, bringing the engine back into life. The car rumbled as she fastened her seatbelt and looked back at Edward. He stood with his shoulder resting on the open car door, Catherine suspected he wasn’t going anywhere without a reason for her abrupt dismissal.
“Look, I just got out of a bad relationship. I’m the last person you’re going to want to see.” She added a heavy sigh to give dramatic effect. Edward shrugged and his face lit up again. Unfortunately, her excuse did not seem to deter him.
“That’s great,” he said brightly. Catherine frowned. He appeared to notice because he thrust his hands out of his pockets and raised his palms in the air. “I mean, that’s terrible,” he added quickly. He ruffled his damp hair; a spray of raindrops fell to his feet as he appeared to be deep in thought. “I just mean,” he took a nervous step forward and leaned into the car. His forehead hovered close to Catherine’s face. Her eyes took in the sight of his dark bushy brows and she resisted the urge to sigh in a swoon-like manner.
“That what if our paths crossed today for a reason? What were the odds that I would bump into you today, with the one thing you need?”
“Excuse me, what exactly is that?” Catherine asked, affronted. Edward cocked a brow at her and nodded to the back of her car.
“Gas?” he said tentatively. Catherine’s shoulders relaxed with a laugh. She had already forgotten about that.
“What if Fate wanted us to meet today?” he asked, looking at her with a whimsical expression on his face. Catherine half-expected him to break out into song. She bit her lip against the grin creeping across her narrow face.
“Tell me Edward, do you really believe in Fate? That there is something––or someone––out there wanting us to meet?” she asked, dragging her fingers through her sopping wet hair.
Edward’s upper lip curved upwards and the dimple on his cheek reappeared.
“Yes, I do,” he replied with an incline of his head. Catherine looked out at the dark road ahead, the lights blurred across the windscreen and the intermittent honking sent her mind into another world for a moment as she considered it.
“I tell you what,” she said, snapping out of her thoughts. She looked at Edward as she folded her arms. “If we meet again––and you’re not allowed to follow me––I’ll accept that it is Fate and you can ask me out.”
“Is that a promise?” he asked, offering his hand again. His face in a broad grin now. That smile could light up any room, Catherine thought as she took his hand once more.
“Promise. It was nice meeting you Edward… and thank you again. For the gas.”
“Anytime. I always have gas,” Edward said, his eyes widened in horror as Catherine snorted. “And I look forward to seeing you again.” He shifted aside and gently closed the door as Catherine laughed to herself and shook her head. She gave him a little wave as he swaggered back to his car up ahead and waited for him to get in before she squealed.
“Goodbye Edward,” she said to herself as she pulled away and joined the stream of traffic, expecting never to see the mystery man again.