Chloë Robinson looked around at the quiet, two-lane road that ran through a remote part of Bella Valley, California. She looked at her bug-splattered blue Ford Focus. She looked at the right front tire, so flat it was resting on the rim.
Damned tire. Damned deadline.
She blamed everything on her deadline, on being late with her book, on having second book syndrome. She wouldn’t have driven over the nail if she wasn’t distracted by her plot, by being halfway through a book that seemed slow and clunky, weighed down with too many expectations. Her first book had written so easily, had been so much fun, and only when it hit the bestseller lists had Chloë realized that if she wanted a career writing books, she’d have to do it again. And again.
Yep. This was definitely the fault of her deadline.
And Eli Di Luca. It was his fault, too.
She sighed. And her own fault. What kind of fool was she to stand in front of her father and proclaim all she needed to finish this book was a quiet place to write?
She dragged her suitcases out of her trunk, stacked them beside the road, and found the spare, the jack, the tire iron.
Saying she needed a quiet place to write was just an excuse, and a stupid one, too. She didn’t expect him to take her seriously. But like a pudgy Italian whirlwind, he had come back with the invitation from Eli Di Luca to stay in his cottage on his estate and finish her book.
Papa said Di Luca was a fan. Papa obviously thought his daughter was an idiot.
She dug the spare out of the trunk and rolled it over onto the dusty shoulder of the road.
One quick trip to the internet showed her what she already knew — Eli Di Luca was a successful, handsome Italian, exactly the kind of guy her father had been flinging at her head.
A car slowed and stopped.
She tensed, stood, tried to look tall and tough.
A guy, who did not look tall and tough, called, “Looks like you know what you’re doing!”
“I do.” She did. Because eight years ago, when she’d taken driver’s training, her instructor had made her change a tire. She hadn’t done it since. She didn’t know if she could loosen the lug nuts or get the jack to work right. But only an idiot would ask a strange man for help…