Trouble(Made & Broken Book 3)By: Nora Ash
I’ve generally always seen myself as on the right path, job-wise, but if there was ever a time I’d regretted my choice of career, it was today.
My screech echoed across Potters Fields Park, making a cluster of pigeons take flight. I windmilled desperately to avoid face-planting into the deep puddle on the pavement that I’d attempted—and failed—to jump across in my three-inch heels.
My feet skidded out, but I managed to right myself at the last second—and heard the distinct snap of my right heel breaking underneath me, followed by a splash as I stepped heavily into the water, soaking my foot to the ankle.
Yup, today I would have traded my years of university and corporate ladder-climbing for a nice, trainer-wearing shop floor job. Bet I could have made the jump if I hadn’t been forced to climb into these ridiculous stilts!
I limped out of the puddle, aware that my broken heel and defeated disposition made me resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame. The fifty-page report from my briefcase had gone flying across the path. A couple of pages were in the damn puddle, and the rest seemed busy soaking up the wet London grime covering the pavement.
I gave them a miserable look. Apparently I wouldn’t just be late for my morning meeting now—I’d also be presenting the clients with waterlogged paperwork.
“You all right there, love?”
I jolted at the amused, masculine voice that sounded right behind me.
“Yes, I’m fucking fantastic,” I hissed at whoever thought it was a great idea to do a drive-by mocking. Instead of giving the perpetrator any more of my attention, I tried to limp a step to the side to grab at my fleeing report and managed to stumble on my broken heel and re-soak my foot in the puddle once again.
“Hang on, I’ve got you,” the same voice said, this time with a full laugh. A male figure bent from behind me, easily snatching up several pages. When he took a couple more steps down the path to gather the rest of my flighty report, I saw he was wearing jog pants, trainers and a tight vest that showed off wide shoulders and strong arms.
Clearly a health nut. Great.
“Here you go,” he said as he turned around, holding out the smudged pages to me. “Not sure they’re all salvageable, though.”
I opened my mouth to thank him, but as my fingertips grazed over his warm hand, I looked up into his face—and promptly lost all ability to control my tongue.
“Huh… ank… s.” I was vaguely aware that the noise I’d produced didn’t much resemble human speech, but most of my focus was pulled toward his eyes.
They were a startling, silvery gray, but what captured my attention so completely wasn’t the color—it was the warm mirth dancing in them, pulling at me like a magnet. His gaze was so completely filled with life, it made the rest of the world seem dull and mute by comparison.
He had a chiseled jaw and the kind of facial features a runway model would kill for, crowned by a shock of red hair, but mainly I just couldn’t stop staring at those amazing eyes.
“Happy to help.” The slight sardonic note to his voice made it clear he was fully aware of my open-mouthed staring. It was enough to finally break the spell, and I flushed beet-red when I realized what I’d been doing.
“S-sorry, I should get going,” I muttered, pulling away from him. The distance gave me a new view of his broad shoulders and—holy hell, he was definitely in good shape, the way those pecs and abs practically strained against his vest. Wow, men hadn’t looked like that when I’d last dated, that’s for sure…
“See something you like, love?”
I took a step further back, mortified at the wry grin on his full lips. He’d clearly caught my gaze sweeping up and down his body.
I squeaked out a weird little sound that was supposed to be ‘thanks for the help’ but sounded more like a trapped mouse, and spun around to flee.
Only I’d forgotten about my broken heel, and the next second, I was flailing wildly in a desperate attempt at not face-planting on the pavement.
“Whoa, steady there.” Large hands gripped my shoulders, pulling me safely upright and turning me back around.