His eyes still on Lisa’s retreating form, Josh rechained his bike then, unable to help himself, he followed her. Her pull was irresistible. There was a guy with her, his hand tucked around her upper arm. As he watched, Lisa shrugged him off. The guy laughed—actually it was more like a donkey's bray—and continued to walk alongside her. She stopped and said something to the guy, a scowl on her face, then continued walking to the deli.
Josh frowned. Something wasn't right.
He followed them inside the deli then stood near the door like an idiot. What did he do now? Get in line? Order lunch? Why the hell had he followed her. He'd accomplished nothing other than possibly being recognized and being accused of stalking.
Josh shifted his weight, feeling weirder by the minute. What if Lisa saw him? What if she remembered him as that bike messenger who always just stared at her, all goggled-eyed and tongue-tied. Truthfully, he should leave while he could but he couldn't make himself turn and exit. He didn't need to talk to her. It was enough just to watch her and appreciate how pretty she was, how animated her face was, and how her eyes sparkled when she smiled.
But she wasn't smiling now. Her eyes were shadowed, her lips compressed. Once or twice she looked up and her eyes darted around the deli, desperation on her face. Her shoulders were hunched away from the guy standing next to her.
The sight of him made Josh's stomach curdle with disgust. Josh hated guys like that, arrogant dicks, thinking they could bully their way through life. His father was like that which was why Josh no longer spoke to him despite the fact his father had popped back up in Josh's life about three months ago pushing to 'make amends'.
Josh returned his attention to Lisa and her donkey companion who continued to bray at her. Every once in a while, she'd nod, but she didn't look like she was having fun.
The counterman handed over her order. She began walking to the register in front, sandwich in one hand, a paper cup in the other, that guy attached to her heels. Still wanting to flee, Josh found himself stuck to the floor, watching her face. She looked annoyed.
Before Josh could stop himself, he stepped forward into Lisa's path. He stumbled. Listed a little to the left. Bumped her hand, the one holding the cup.
The cup left her hand, flew backwards and hit the donkey guy smack in the middle of his immaculate white dress shirt.
He shrieked. Everyone in the deli turned to stare as he danced in place, swearing loudly. “Son of a bitch! My shirt is ruined. And my pants are ruined.” He added a few more curses that shouldn't be said in public. The guy's curses finally trickled away and he lifted his eyes up to glare at Josh.
“You fucking idiot.”
Oops. Josh blinked, then he put on his best stupid face, not an easy thing to do since he was certain his IQ was at least twice this asshole's but he was hoping the guy wouldn't hit him if he thought it was an accident. It had been an accident, sort of, if by accident, it meant Josh hadn't deliberately thought about dousing the guy in chocolate milk shake and then deliberately acted on that thought. Truthfully, he hadn't thought about it at all; his feet just sort of took him forward and his balance just sort of went wonky and then it just sort of happened.
“I'm sorry,” he said in a meek voice. “I slipped.”
“Fuck you, you idiot. My clothes are ruined. You're going to pay for them.” Donkey guy took a step forward.
Josh stepped back. He didn't want to fight with the guy. He was a lover, not a fighter. Well, actually, he wasn't a lover either. He was more of a thinker. He liked to think his way out of situations.
Lisa laid a hand on the guy's arm. “Craig, stop. It was an accident. And it's only ice cream. Take your stuff to the cleaners and it'll come out, I promise.”
Wow, Lisa was defending him. There was a God.
“No, this guy is going to buy me a new shirt and pants.”
“Stop being a jerk. Go to the cleaners while the ice cream is still wet so they can get it out.”
“I can't do that,” he whined. “I have too much work to do to waste an hour.”
“They can do it in less than an hour. I've seen the sign. Go and I'll cover for you, okay?”
Somehow, Lisa's offer to help brought Craig back to his smarmy, repellent self. That self-satisfied smile returned, and he lifted an arm, obviously intending to drape it over Lisa's shoulder.
She shoved him away. “Ick. Don't touch me. Just go to the dry cleaners,” she said, and reaching into her purse, she pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. “Here. For the dry cleaning.”
“Forget it. I don't take money from girls. Anyway, I've got a fresh shirt and pants in the office. Because, you never know what might come up,” he said and snagging a strand of hair from her shoulder, he wiggled his eyebrows. “Right?”
Her eyes shooting fire, Lisa yanked her hair back and gave him a shove towards the door. “Go,” she told him.
After a brief hesitation, he leveled a final glare on Josh and left.
Silence followed his departure. A bubble of laughter roiled in Josh's chest, scrambling up his throat as it attempted to escape. He swallowed a couple of times, the laughter bouncing around inside his mouth. He sucked his lips into his mouth, hoping that would dam the laughter.
Her eyes puzzled, Lisa stared at him for a minute then her eyes widened. “Oh, my god, you did that on purpose.”
Lisa Novak’s fiancé just announced he is gay. It’s bad enough he’s in love with another man but even worse, he lied to Lisa for all those years because he didn’t want his father to disinherit him. Rich people! Lisa has no use for them. Hoping for love and adventure, she moves to New York City but all she finds is a boring job, a cramped walk-up apartment in Harlem and a bag lady who seems intent on robbing her blind. Fortunately for her, her sister owns Heart-2-Heart, a matchmaking service, and promises to set her up with the best guys in Manhattan.
Josh Albright knows he’s a nerd. He’s a rich nerd, having designed and sold one of the most popular video games on the market, but he’s a nerd none the less. Being a nerd doesn’t bother him but being rich does. He’s afraid all that money will cause him to become just like his greedy father so he puts technology on hold while he works as a bike messenger. He loves the speed, he loves the freedom but what he most especially loves is the girl, Lisa Novak, who sits in cubicle 10 at Bernstein and Howard CPAs.
But what chance does a lowly bike messenger, especially a rich one, have with the prettiest girl in New York?