Anniversary post: Hippy meets Businessman: Sparks FLY

In print, 2 years ago today: ex-hippy clashes with sexy businessman resulting in hot fun (and suspense).

Setup: A threatening letter meant for Max Lerner was delivered to Layla Whitford, throwing these two strangers together. Max decides that he might be putting her in danger, so he arranges for a security guard … just until the critical merger he’s involved in can be finalized. But one thing leads to another, and suddenly Max and Layla are on the way to becoming more than acquaintances who were thrown together …

Nathan watched Layla sympathetically as she cried while hefting her weights. “He was a real bastard?”

Layla nodded miserably. “He acted like he cared and then he pushed me away.” She sniffled. “Man, am I stupid? I should know better. Men like that are all assholes.”

“Men like what?” Nathan asked.

“Businessmen. All they care about is the bottom line. My ex-husband was one and so is Max Lerner. They’re both the same. Why didn’t I see it? Paul always put business first…he always put the company first. That’s one reason we got divorced.” Layla glared at herself in mirror but couldn’t see much beyond her tears. “Well…that and the girl I caught him with, having sex in the boardroom. God, I can’t believe I almost repeated history! Am I stupid or what? And I almost got run off the road!” She hiccupped and hefted her fifteen-pound weights while Nathan companionably joined her, lifting his sixty-pounders. “He rejected me! He totally rejected me.” Layla looked at herself mournfully in the mirror. “Oh, hell, I’m old and I don’t have long legs and I’m not thin.” She sniffled. “I should have known better. Damn. I’m smarter than this! I’m not the kind of woman who would fit in with Max Lerner’s world. I’m not the kind of woman a guy like him wants to take around to his parties. I’m not his type.”

“You’re still beautiful though,” Nathan said loyally.

She looked at him with gratitude. “Thanks, Nathan. You’re a buddy.” She hiccupped.

The front door burst open and a stream of sunlight entered the gloomy workout area. Everyone turned to look as Max Lerner raced into the gym, tearing his sunglasses off his face.

“Oh son of a bitch,” Layla whispered. She dropped the weights and started to edge her way to the locker rooms but Max caught sight of her and strode across the gym to confront her.

“Where have you been?” His eyes flickered to the bruise on her forehead. “What happened?”

“Don’t yell at me!” A fat tear slid down Layla’s cheek. “I’ve had a bad day.”

Max shook her so hard her white curls bounced. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

“Why do you care? You threw me out. You fired me. Let go of me!”

“Not until you tell me. What happened?”

“Someone tried to run me off the road. My head hit the steering wheel.”

“What?” Max released her so quickly she staggered backward. Nathan stepped forward and gave her a supporting hand in the middle of her back.

“At the on-ramp to the interstate.” Layla wiped her face with the back of one hand. “Somebody cut me off and I skidded and almost went into the ditch. That’s when I hit my head.” She snuffled and dabbed at her face with the ratty T-shirt Nathan handed her. “Thanks.”

“Why did you leave?” Max demanded. “You’re supposed to have a bodyguard, Layla. Why did you leave alone?”

“Bodyguard?” Nathan asked, looking from Layla to Max.

Layla glared at Max, anger swamping her. “I was giving you the best blow job of your life and you told me to wait! Why wouldn’t I leave?”

Silence descended on the gym and every eye turned to regard Max with varying degrees of incredulity. Max’s face started to turn red.

“You told me to wait. I was sitting there doing—you know. But you had to go to a stupid meeting.” Layla shot him such a piercing look that Max actually felt pain.

“What an asshole,” Nathan said, awed.

Layla stomped toward the locker room. “Layla!” Max shouted, hurrying after her.

“Get away. Don’t you dare come near me.”

“Damn it, stop! I love you.”

She paused in mid-step. Nathan muttered, “You’re in for it now. Women take that kind of shit seriously.”

Max let out a huge breath. “I know,” he admitted in a low voice. “But it worked, didn’t it?” He hurried over to the locker room door. “Please. I have to explain.”

She looked at him, her chin quivering. “Max, you just don’t do things like that,” she said patiently, as though explaining a social faux pas to an idiot. “You can’t put me in second place like that. You can’t put me on hold.”

“I know. But it’s been years since I’ve been with someone like you.”

“What do you mean?” She looked away from him and stared at the floor. A tear dropped off her chin and splashed onto his shoe.

“I haven’t been with someone who’s important to me for a long time.”

She looked at him warily. “Important?”

Max hesitantly put his arms around her. “Yes. Important. I should have canceled the meeting. I should have done whatever you wanted.” He kissed her bruised forehead. “I should have been with you. If I had, there wouldn’t have been an accident.”

She leaned against him then straightened. “I’m sorry. I’ll get your suit sweaty and wet.”

Max just held her tighter.

“Is Jason worried?” she mumbled into his shirt.

Max stiffened. “I was worried.”

She peeked up at him. “What about Jason?” Then she smiled mischievously. “Just teasing.”

“Damn it, Layla.” He kissed her quickly and gave her another hug. “Get your stuff. We’re going to your house.”

“We are?”

“Yep. You need a shower and I’m just the man to do it.”

She gave him another wary look. “I don’t recall inviting you into my shower.”

He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her, a long, slow, burning kiss that made her tingle all the way to her toes. “Let me convince you,” he said when he released her.

“Oh.” Layla almost melted at the look in his eyes. “I’ll get my stuff.” She disappeared into the locker room.
* * * * *

Max turned around. Every man in the gym was staring at him. Nathan and Saul approached him with intent looks. “Hurt her and you get pounded,” Saul said. “She’s our mascot. She’s our girl.” Nathan nodded in agreement, flexing one ham-sized fist.

Max nodded. “I understand. I’ll do my best.”

“She was giving you a blow job and you told her to wait?” Nathan asked.

Max glanced around the gym. “I was stupid.”

Nathan shook his head as Layla came out of the locker room clutching her purse and clothing. “Stupid doesn’t cover it, man.”

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