“How can I help you, Mr. Deveraux?” Julia Connors asked with a pleasant smile. She leaned back in her chair and stared at me appraisingly.
It was only fair, since I was studying her as well. The owner of Luxe Connections was a beautiful, tall, dark-skinned woman with long braids twisted up in an elegant design behind her head. Her sculpted face was highlighted with minimal makeup that accentuated her piercing brown eyes. Having gotten her information from my friend, Sullivan, I knew she was around my mother’s age, but she didn’t look a day over forty-five.
She wore a blue power suit with insanely high heels and had an air of experience and intelligence that was hard to ignore. It was clear she wasn’t a woman to be messed with, but at the same time, she exuded a soft femininity which made it easy to see how she was so successful as a matchmaker for billionaires.
A zing of nerves shot through me, but I easily snuffed it out. I’d made up my mind and was confident with my decision. I wouldn’t allow any doubt to creep in.
“Miles, please,” I corrected her congenially. “After the match you found for Sullivan, I’m very much hoping you can do the same for me.”
She nodded and smiled encouragingly, so I went on. “I had a pretty bad breakup a couple of months ago, and it was the last straw for me. I’m sick and tired of the dating meat market. I want a wife and family, to settle down. I hear you’re the one who can make that happen for someone like me.”
“Certainly. Why don’t you tell me a little about what you’re looking for?”
What was I looking for? That was a fairly simple answer. The complete opposite of my ex… However, I didn’t think that would be enough for her to go on. “Someone real. Intelligent and strong, but someone who knows how to relax and have fun as well.” I cleared my throat and shifted nervously in my seat before adding, “She needs to be open-minded.”
Julia nodded and took notes. “In the bedroom?”
“Well…yes, I suppose that, too. But I meant I need someone who can look beyond what’s in front of her and see the whole picture. See the good in…people.”
She looked up at me then, her face expressionless, and watched me. It was a little unnerving. “I assume you’re referring to your—shall we say, ‘misguided’ past?”
I nodded. “I’d rather she didn’t know too much about me before the wedding. I’d like the chance for us to get to know each other organically.”
She looked back at her computer and typed a few more notes.
“I realize that it’s no secret to these women what kind of wealth they are attaining,” I continued, “but I’m hoping you’ll be able to see through the bullshit and find someone who cares about more than just what I can give her financially.”
The corners of her lips tilted up. “Miles, are you looking for love?”
I cursed my red hair and fair skin as I felt my cheeks heat. My reputation was well-known in the world of cybercrimes and cybersecurity. I was a fucking badass. No one messed with me because I was extremely logical and supposedly lacked empathy. Yet, here I was, about to disclose one of my deepest secrets to someone who was practically a stranger.
I was running late for a consultation with a new client, but my meeting with Julia had gone over. We’d spent quite a bit of time hashing out the terms of the contract I wanted.
I was starving and, since her Columbus Circle office was way uptown from my next appointment on Wall Street, I only had about thirty minutes to grab some lunch. I stalked around the corner and spied The Purple Kitchen across the street. A shitty New York diner. Perfect.
The inside screamed seventies TV sitcom with its purple vinyl booths, Formica tables, and even a long counter with barstools that ended with a rotating glass display of pies. These places may look like crap, but usually, the food was awesome.
“One for lunch, sir?” the host asked. He was a robust, balding, middle-aged man in black pants, a sweater vest, and orthopedic shoes.
“Yes. I’m in an incredible hurry, though.”
He nodded and grabbed a menu, leading me to a booth that overlooked the bustling city street through a large picture window.
“Emma will be right with you.” He dipped his chin and made his way back to his podium at the front.
I opened the menu and was reading the specials when someone walked up to the booth.
“Hello! I’m Emma. Can I get you a drink, sir?” A sweet, cheerful voice asked.
It was like being struck by lightning. My body went rigid, frozen as an electric current ran through me. It went straight to my groin, and all the blood in my head followed right behind. I was suddenly hard as a fucking rock.
When I could move again, I glanced up to look into the most incredible pair of green eyes I had ever seen. They were large and round, fringed with thick, sooty, black lashes. Her black hair was wild and curly, framing her heart-shaped face. Her nose turned up just a little bit, and her top lip formed a perfect cupid’s bow. As if those things weren’t enough, when she smiled, two deep dimples popped in her cheeks.
I couldn’t stop my eyes from dropping to take in the whole package. She was short, probably no more than five and a half feet, and her body was lush with curves. She had spectacular tits, round hips, and I was betting when she turned around, I’d be treated to a view of a voluptuous ass.
I finally dragged my eyes back up to her face, and she was staring at me with one black brow arched high and clearly annoyed.
“If you’re done ogling what isn’t on the menu,” she snipped, “what would you like to drink?”
“I’m sorry I acted so inappropriately, Emma,” I apologized sincerely. “But you’re incredibly beautiful.”
Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, as though people didn’t often tell her that.
“Would you like to order something?”
I loved how feisty she was. “Well, since you’ve made it very clear that you aren’t on the menu”—I gave her my most charming smile, hoping to soften her demeanor. It seemed to have a small effect on her because her sweet lips rounded up and her eyes warmed a little—“What would you recommend?”
“For you?” She tapped her pencil against her pink lips as she considered her answer. “A slice of humble pie would do you wonders.”
Laughter burst from my chest. Damn, there was something special about this girl. “You may be right. But, let me rephrase. Is there something on the menu that you suggest?”
She smiled, and it lit up her beautiful face. “The Reuben sandwich is delicious.”
I wanted to comment that I was certain it wasn’t anywhere as delicious as she tasted, but I didn’t want to chance making her put her walls back up.
“Then that’s what I’ll have,” I stated. “Now…about that pie.” I winked and basked in the sound of her easy laughter.
She tapped that damn pencil against those gorgeous lips again and I found myself jealous of a wooden stick. “How about Coconut cream? It’s my favorite.”
I filed that information away as I nodded. “Sounds great. A Reuben sandwich, Coke, and a slice of pie.”
“Good choice,” she said with a light chuckle. “I’ll be right out with your drink.” She turned and walked over to check on another table, confirming my suspicions about her amazing ass.
Once she was far enough away to not overhear, I pulled my phone from my breast pocket and quickly punched in the number for the client I was supposed to meet in half an hour. Though I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer, they were fine with rescheduling our appointment.
My head pivoted back to the interior of the restaurant, and I watched Emma as she weaved through the tables and went behind the bar to fill drink orders. She glanced back a few times and her cheeks heated when I didn’t even try to hide my interest in her.
Holy fucking hell. I didn’t think I’d ever been this attracted to a woman in my life. Normally, I would do my best to charm the pants off of her and get her number, then schedule a date and… My eyes strayed to the corner I’d recently come around and the office that was there.
This situation was suddenly much more complicated than I’d anticipated. I’d just paid Luxe Connections a ridiculous sum of money to find me a wife, and here I was, about to go into my typical dating mode to get this waitress into my bed. My eyes never left her. Even when she disappeared into the kitchen, I watched the door avidly until she returned. She came back with a tray of glasses and set a napkin on the table before placing my Coke on it. “Your lunch will be out shortly. Cosmo said you were in a hurry, so I put a rush on it.”
“Thank you, Emma, but my schedule just cleared up, so there is no rush.” Something in my voice caught her attention, and her green orbs locked with my blue ones. Sparks flew between us, and I smiled again. Just when I thought she couldn’t get any sexier, the pink tinge returned to her cheeks. I wanted to snag her hand and pull her down into the booth with me. Perhaps take those lips in a hungry kiss. Taking a deep breath, I clenched my fists to hold on to my control.
“You’re welcome. Um, I’ll check back with you in a few minutes.”
She scurried away and helped other customers, but she frequently glanced back at me over her shoulder. I tried to keep my expression neutral, so I wouldn’t freak her the fuck out. But, with every smile she gave to someone else, I felt a little annoyed that I had to share her attention. I wanted all of her happiness to be directed at me. I wanted all of her. I just wanted…her.
It wasn’t long before she returned with my food and placed it in front of me on the table, finally directing her smile at me. “Anything else?”
My mind was lodged firmly in the gutter, so I knew anything I said would more than likely be met with a slap. I shook my head and smiled instead.
“Okay. Well, I’ll be around if you need anything.”
“Thank you, Emma,” I said gruffly. I loved saying her name. I couldn’t wait to shout it as I came between her thighs.
“You’re welcome.” Her feet hesitated for a moment, as though she was reluctant to leave. However, someone called her name and she spun around and walked away.
I glanced at my meal when she was gone and realized I had lost my appetite. For food, at least. But she’d recommended it and served it to me, so I ate every bite.
Eventually, she came back to clear my dishes and when she saw they’d been picked clean, she beamed at me. She was so fucking beautiful, if I’d been standing, she would have knocked me on my ass.
“I guess you made the right choice,” she teased.
I stared into her eyes and made a decision. “You are definitely the right choice.”
She looked a little confused by my choice of words, but laughed when I gave her a boyish, lopsided grin.
“Hopefully, we can feed you the right choice every time you come in.”
I wanted to tell her that it was a moot point because she wouldn’t be working there any longer. It probably wouldn’t have gone over well right then, so I refrained from commenting and winked instead. She blushed again, and the dirty thoughts I’d been struggling to suppress emerged, making me wonder how much of her body that blush covered. The thoughts woke my cock back up, and I shifted to make sure the table completely covered my groin.
Emma placed the bill on the table, and I reached for it immediately, making sure our fingers brushed. If I’d had any doubt about the chemistry between us, it would have been obliterated by that touch. My skin felt electrified where it met hers. Her eyes widened, bouncing between my face and our hands. “You’ll—um—pay up front on—uh—your way out.” She was clearly flustered as she gave the instruction. Then she slowly turned, but her head faced my direction until the very last second. Afterward, she retraced her steps to the kitchen, but before she disappeared through the door, her eyes found mine one more time.
I remained seated and tried to clear my head until my body calmed and I knew my physical reaction to her wouldn’t be obvious anymore.
I dug out my wallet and threw a hefty tip on the table before taking the check up front. After paying and making sure to compliment her service to the manager, I practically ran outside.
My left arm flew up to hail a cab as my right pulled my phone from my pocket. A yellow sedan screeched to a stop in front of me, and I rattled off the address for my next appointment as I slid onto the black leather bench seat.
I found Julia’s contact info in my phone and hit call.
“Luxe Connections,” a young woman answered.
“Julia Connors, please. This is Miles Deveraux.”
“One moment, please.”
I closed my eyes and leaned my head back as I waited, picturing Emma.
“Miles, is there a problem?” Julia asked as she came on the line.
“I found her,” I blurted out.
“My wife. The woman I want.”
“Oh!” Her voice was shocked, and I couldn’t blame her. I was dropping a bit of a bomb, considering I’d just met with her minutes ago. “So, you want to pay the fee and cancel your contract?”
“What?” My head snapped up. Then I realized how what I said might have come off. “No, you misunderstand. I found her for you. I need you to get her for me, Julia. She’s perfect, and I don’t want anyone else.”
“Well—I, um, that’s kind of unconventional,” she sputtered. I briefly wondered how often someone ruffled this woman’s feathers. I couldn’t imagine it happened frequently, if at all. However, no one managed to fluster me, either. It looked like Emma was a full-on anomaly.
“Her name is Emma, and she’s a waitress at The Purple Kitchen around the corner from your office. I want her, Julia. Can you make it happen?”
“I have to admit, Miles, this will be a first for me. But, if you’re absolutely determined, I’ll contact her and attempt to make the match.”
“I’ll double your fee if you pull it off.” I stabbed the red button on the screen of my phone and shoved it back in my pocket. I wanted to turn the cab around and go back to the diner, spend the rest of the night talking to her and watching her graceful body move. However, I knew it was better to be patient. If Julia could get her to agree to my terms, I’d have plenty of time to make Emma fall in love with me before she discovered anything about me that might have her running in the opposite direction.