The All-Star Antes Up (Wager of Hearts #2)(8)

by Nancy Herkness

Or even worse, fire her. Since the Pinnacle’s owners contracted with Orin’s concierge service for their building, her boss had sole discretion over who worked there. She would have no recourse if his simmering dislike of her boiled over into something more serious.

“And Mr. Saperstein needs a new dog walker,” Orin said.

Miranda mentally rolled her eyes. Mr. Saperstein needed a new dog walker at least once a month, since he always found some reason to fire his current one. It was becoming difficult to find anyone who would agree to work for him, because word had gotten around the dog-walking community that he was unreasonably demanding. Sticking her with the task was Orin’s revenge for the Archer incident.

“I’ll take care of both requests,” she said, even though it was nearly time for her to go home. She had pulled the night shift this week. Generally she was fine with that, because the residents who required services in the middle of the night compensated her accordingly. Unfortunately, last night had been quiet and routine except for the unpleasantness with Trevor Archer. Win some, lose some.

That reminded her of Luke Archer and the way the air around him seemed supercharged. She had felt as though lightning was flickering right beside her. The memory made the tiny hairs on her arms tingle in a weirdly delicious way.

“You may go,” Orin said, his eyes on his computer screen.

Miranda exited his office as fast as she could without running. Most of the time, she loved her job. Getting her clients exactly what they wanted while making it look effortless was a point of pride for her. Which was why Trevor’s request had distressed her. She wanted him to be happy while he was at the Pinnacle, but she had been unable to make it happen without breaking the rules and, even worse, venturing into territory that bordered on illegal.

When she recrossed the lobby, Luke Archer walked out of a shadow by the elevators and came toward her. As he strolled through an early-morning sunbeam shining through the plate-glass window, his hair turned to molten gold, and the muscles of his forearms were outlined in light and shadow. He moved as though he knew how every part of his body worked most efficiently.

The sheer beauty of the man made her gasp out loud, her body reacting without conscious thought. She tried to turn the sound into a cough, but she caught a flicker of something in his face that meant he’d caught her response. So much for her facade of cool sophistication. Of course, Luke Archer was probably used to the effect he had on women.

He stopped in front of her, his hands shoved into his jeans pockets. “I owe you more than a football for putting up with Trevor’s crap. Tell me what I can do to make it right with your boss.”

Even with her high heels on, she had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. She felt delicate and feminine when she stood so close to him. It wasn’t unpleasant.

“Everything’s fine with my boss,” she lied. “It was just a misunderstanding.”

Archer shook his head. “I didn’t read it that way.”

One thing Miranda was not going to do was involve this prominent resident in a work squabble. “Mr. Archer, I appreciate your concern, but there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Call me Luke,” he said. The honey of his drawl poured through her, kicking up little flares of sensation. As the silence drew out, she realized he was waiting for her to use his given name.

“Thank you, Luke.” And she would never address him that way again. She had to remember he was a client.

He gave her another one of his appraising scans. “You let me know if something becomes a cause for concern.”

“Of course, Mr.—er, Luke.” So she had to use his name one more time.

“You take care,” he said, giving her a nod of farewell before he headed back to the elevators.

She couldn’t resist watching him walk away. His jeans fit him almost as tightly as his football uniform pants, which gave her an excellent view of a tight butt and rock-hard thighs. The cotton of his shirt draped over a magnificently contoured back. Something seemed to melt low in her belly, and she shook her head to break the powerful spell.

Even if Luke Archer hadn’t been a client, he was miles out of her league in every other way.

She was just bowled over that he’d stayed behind to see if he could fix things. Her brother always claimed that the great quarterback was a decent guy, not a prima donna. Maybe his image wasn’t just a skillful public relations campaign.

She shook her head again. No one that famous and that good-looking could be a normal human being.

Chapter 2

“Trevor, what the hell is the matter with you?” Luke stalked into the kitchen, where his brother sat eating cold pizza. “You’re a married man.”

Trevor looked up. “Seriously? You think that stops me from wanting some fun?”

Luke raked one hand through his hair, making his head throb. Too much scotch from last night at the Bellwether Club, and now Trevor. And that damned wager.

“Have fun somewhere else. Don’t involve some poor concierge, who’s now in trouble with her boss because you complained.” Although he hadn’t minded at all when the concierge had run into him so he could feel her soft curves crushed against his chest. He was human. “And don’t drag me into a meeting without telling me the truth.”

“I told you the meeting was Spindle’s idea.” Trevor took a bite of pizza and chewed. “You didn’t have to come. I could have handled it myself.”

“I live in the building. You’re a guest.” When Trevor had texted him about the meeting, he should have asked more questions and controlled the situation, but he had a morning appointment with his coach. Furthermore, he got the feeling Spindle had had his own agenda for getting them all into his office.

Trevor tossed his half-eaten pizza on the plate. “Look, Jodie’s nagging me up, down, and sideways about finding another job because I didn’t get tenure. All I hear is, ‘Why don’t you finish your book? Why don’t you write a scholarly article? Maybe you’d have tenure if you did, and we could have a baby.’ So she doesn’t exactly put me in the mood for sex right now.”

“Christ, Trevor, that’s enough about your sex life.”

Luke agreed with Jodie’s logic, even if her methods weren’t effective. Trevor had been passed over for tenure at the small liberal arts college where he was a professor of philosophy, so he’d come to New York to drown his sorrows. Or dump them on Luke. Personally, Luke thought his brother should be in his office finishing the book he’d been working on for the last three years. Wasn’t it publish or perish in academia? Even Luke knew that, and he was as far away from Trevor’s world as it was possible to get.