Strictly Temporary

By: Robyn Grady


Cool. Unruffled.

Nothing rattled Zack Harrison’s cage.

He viewed Denver’s unseasonal snowfall this afternoon as a picturesque bonus more than an inconvenience. Today’s setback with regard to his latest acquisition strike was another challenge, not a reason to rant. Achieving a goal should involve effort, Zack decided as he shrugged into his overcoat, thanked the concierge and collected his briefcase. He’d simply need to get more…inventive was the word.

However, his patience was sorely tested when it came to the press. Last month’s beat-up was nothing short of laughable. Apparently he was a fiend who left underprivileged families homeless in order to expand his evil empire. And what about that recent piece questioning his treatment of an ambitious actress he’d been seeing? Without exception he treated women with respect but, from the get-go, he and Ally had agreed upon “fun and casual,” not “if I don’t see a diamond ring, I’ll expose your darkest secret.” As if blackmail would work. Unlike his father and siblings, this Harrison didn’t give a rat’s behind what people thought.

But on this late-spring afternoon, as he strode from the hotel’s entrance, yanked open the waiting cab’s back passenger door and zipped inside the toasty cabin, Zack’s calm fled and he jumped back in his seat. He took a moment to adjust and study his unexpected company before leaning forward to tap the driver’s shoulder.

“Your last fare forgot something.”

The cabbie angled around. “A wallet?”

“No,” Zack said. “A baby.”

The other back door swung open. A cool rush whooshed inside along with a woman wearing a hooded cherry-red coat. She set a matching overnighter on her lap and promptly slapped the door shut against the howling drifts. Blowing warmth into her cupped hands, her attention shifted. Beneath the red hood, curious eyes the color of new violets slid from the infant car seat carrier up to Zack and back again.

He considered her face, those eyes, and his chest grew unusually warm. He hadn’t met this woman before and yet something in her glittering gaze had him wondering if he knew her. Perhaps he’d simply like to.

“I was in such a hurry, I didn’t see you get in,” she said, wrapping her manicured hands around the lip of her case. “Actually I couldn’t see much at all. Crazy, isn’t it? All this snow, I mean.”

A slow smile hooked one side of his mouth as Zack’s gaze drank her in. “Yeah,” he said. “Crazy.”

“It seems like the concierge called a cab ages ago. I walked to the curb to see if I could hail one down. I thought it might never come.”

Zack’s smile faded. He’d stolen her ride? When he’d checked out a few minutes ago, the front desk had organized a cab. Exiting the hotel’s foyer, he’d merely assumed.

He leaned forward again, spoke to the driver. He’d pick off this easier problem then take care of that other more complicated baby matter next.

“Are you answering a call?”

“Just back from dropping a fare at the airport.” The man behind the wheel pushed a maroon beret back on his brow before flicking on the meter. “Thought I’d swing in here and try my luck. No one’s going out in this weather ’less they have to.”

“The airport.” Red Riding Hood tipped forward, too. “That’s where I’m headed. I need to get back to New York for an interview first thing tomorrow. I’m a features writer for Story Magazine.” Her bright look said, You’ve heard of it, right?

Acting suitably informed and impressed despite his aversion, Zack nodded and said, “Of course,” a moment before she dragged back the hood. The shadow framing her face lifted and Zack forgot to breathe.

Other than her cheeks, which were flushed a healthy pink, her complexion was as flawless as porcelain. Her hair, a luxurious mane, rested like a sable mantle over two slim straight shoulders. Her violet eyes were so vibrant their light penetrated and illuminated places he hadn’t known existed.

He’d dated some beauties in his time, women who drew attention when they floated into a room and were comfortable exerting their power over the opposite sex. But Zack couldn’t recall having met a female whose company literally left him short on air, and not only because of something as superficial as looks. In the clear depths of her eyes…the poised yet innocent manner with which she listened and spoke…

Quite simply, this woman glowed.

After today’s unproductive meeting with the owner of this building he was ready to kick back and get home—home being the two-story private cabin he chilled at whenever he stopped in town. But the delectable Red was obviously in a hurry, eager to leave Denver and its freak weather behind. He’d be happy to play the gentleman and wait for another cab.

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