Finn Riley cut his agent an annoyed look. “I don’t need another person to manage my life, I have you.”
Cork Wallace smirked. “I take care of your career, knucklehead, not your cooking and laundry.”
Finn narrowed his eyes so tight they almost closed. “The whole point of having my own tour bus is for privacy. If I want to walk around naked or scream at the top of my lungs, I can.” The members of his band occupied a separate bus so they wouldn’t be under foot. Even his driver, Cal, bunked on the second bus. “And I’m quite capable of washing my own underwear.” He sighed at the knowledge that he was completely self-sufficient thanks to some difficult years where he had to do for himself or do without. Those worse-than-lean circumstances also turned him into a control freak; but hey, he was who he was.
“You’re going to hire her,” Cork grabbed the coffee pot and refilled their cups, “as a favor to me. You owe me a few.”
A few thousand was more accurate. Without Cork’s relentless pursuit of the music moguls and media, he’d still be an unknown musician surviving on noodles and bologna. Still, the idea of another person occupying the limited space didn’t thrill him. “Bite me.” Finn downed half of his coffee in one hot gulp.
Cork cracked up laughing. “Knew you’d come around.”
Finn took another healthy swallow. “Who is this woman anyway? Someone you slept with?”
“She’s just a girl who needs a break, like you did a few years ago.”
Doubtful. More like a negotiated settlement to keep a jealous husband from killing Cork. It was no secret that his agent-manager was a player. He and Cork couldn’t be more different yet they were the best of friends. “Uh-huh. I’m sure she is.”
Cork pulled up off the padded booth that served as seating for the dinner table and looked at his watch. “Damn, where’d the morning go?” Once he reached the door, he turned back to Finn. “Molly should be here anytime.”
“You’re an ass.”
“A handsome, sharp-as-a-tack ass.” Cork issued Finn a devious grin.
Cork laughed himself out the door. Finn growled himself to the coffee pot.
* * *
Molly Williams paid the cab fare, dragged two over-stuffed suitcases across the bubbly tar of the truck stop parking lot, and mumbled that this was a bad idea. Although, it had to be better than her current job. Working for a divorce lawyer paid well but it was a gloomy way to make a living. All the tears and broken hearts… Molly sighed from deep in her chest. She went home many a night cursing her clients or crying for them. Out of the clear blue, the boss decided they were both stressed out-workaholics who needed a break from the mayhem. He reassigned his cases to another lawyer, hopped on his sailboat and headed to the Caribbean. He suggested she find something to help her unwind too. Suddenly gifted with three months off with pay, she slept-in, lazed in the sun, and cleaned closets – two days of complete bliss before she started pacing and climbing the walls. Argh! She was a blasted workaholic who couldn’t take it easy if her life depended on it.
Waving from the steps of a giant bus with a mural of an eagle perched on a guitar, was the guy who used to pull her hair on the school bus. If he wasn’t the son of her mom’s best friend, she never would’ve given this strange opportunity a second thought. A moment of unease rushed over Molly – possibly the return of her sanity? She did an about-face.
Crap! The taxi was gone.
Cork raced to help with the luggage. “Mol, you made it just in time.”
The smell of diesel fuel invaded her nostrils while the relentless heat of an extreme summer sent a trickle of sweat down her back. “I didn’t know how to pack. I kept putting things in and taking them back out.” Actually, it had been a stall tactic. Go, don’t go. Right now she favored the latter.
“These better not be filled with fancy office duds.” Cork pushed opened the door of the bus and hoisted the first bag to the driver. Molly offered a cheesy smile, making him add, “This isn’t about you. It’s about making Finn Riley’s life easier.”
If ever there was a face-palm moment, this was it. What have I gotten myself into? As grueling as it was, her job had become her life. She spent long hours at the office. When she was home, she still spent countless hours on the phone with her boss or going over legal documents. Sadly, she’d grown accustomed to a semi-clean apartment and fast food. Now here she was, dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt, her long brown hair pulled up in a messy-but-stylish pony tail, ready to fake her way through the tasks of cooking and cleaning.
Molly took a stout breath and climbed into the custom-designed tour bus. Expecting to find empty liquor bottles, half-crushed beer cans, and a trail of dirty clothes, she was surprised to find the opposite. Nothing was out of place, not even a pair of boots to trip over.
Corked nudged her in front of him. “Your new home.”
Besides a ton of amusement in his voice, there was something she couldn’t identify. Molly turned and met his eyes, they revealed little. She’d eventually find out what he was up to, for now she had to deal with her new digs. Her gaze skipped around the cramped quarters until it connected with Finn Riley’s. For a second, her heart stopped. She’d seen life-size posters of him. Watched him on one of the late-night talk shows. Had attended one of his concerts. Never in her wild imagination did she picture him better looking close up. But he was. Deep blue eyes were arched by bushy brows. His thick, dark hair was cut in medium-length layers and tousled to perfection. Silky dark hair covered his arms. Molly imagined the rest of him with the same rich silk. She hurried from that thought before she did something stupid, like say “Mmm”.
Cork made the introductions. “Finn Riley, Molly Williams. Molly, Finn.”
Molly didn’t move her feet, but stretched to shake his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
The corners of Finn’s generous mouth dimpled. “It’s nice to meet you too.” He took her hand and held it longer than necessary. When he finally let go, Molly drew her hand back like he’d pricked her with a pin. The rash movement caused the satchel carrying her laptop to slide from her shoulder and clunk onto the table, against Finn’s coffee cup. Coffee sloshed everywhere. The accordion window shade took a good dousing, so did Finn’s brilliant white T-shirt that read - Without Music My Day Would Suck. The instant creases in his forehead said he was ticked. Cork’s loud wince behind her said he wasn’t pleased either.
Frantic, Molly looked for something to clean up the mess. Two red hand-towels embroidered with black guitars were within reach. She yanked one from the handle of the oven and laid it across the mishap that was now dripping onto some very plush beige carpet.
What possessed her to grab the second towel to blot Finn’s T-shirt was beyond comprehension. The moment her hand landed against rock-hard pecs, she realized the error, and didn’t have to look in a mirror to know she’d turned a deep shade of uh-oh.
Finn backed against the seat cushion and shielded her away from him with his forearm.
“I’m so sorry.” Boy was she. Sorry she agreed to such a preposterous arrangement. Sorry that Finn’s phenomenal pecs distracted her more than the coffee spill. And she would probably be sorry that a maniacal laugh formed in her belly and was working its way up. She pulled in her lips to ward off the giggle, but out it came.
Embarrassment filled her cheeks…and all other body parts.
Finn stood and pulled the wet shirt away from his skin.
Holy mackerel! A few more inches and his head would dust the ceiling. The man was a walking cliché – tall, dark, and handsome.
Molly took an oversized step back and landed on Cork’s foot. Cork reacted with a yowl and an instinctive push. It was only a tiny shove to get her off of him, but enough to topple her into Finn.
The chance to make a good impression dissolved when she knocked over his coffee, blotted his chest, and nervously laughed about it. But falling into him ruined any second chance he might’ve given. And very soon he would order her off the bus.
* * *
Finn steadied Molly and looked past her to glare at Cork. Before he could rip into either one of them, his bus driver, Cal, announced it was time to head out.
Cal grinned big at Finn’s hand still on Molly’s shoulder.
Molly shrugged from his touch. Instinctively, his glare deepened and he answered Cal’s unasked question. “My new assistant.”
“Assistant?” Cal looked at Cork.
Cork shrugged. “The old man needs someone to wash his underwear.” He broke into a laugh. Cal joined in.
“Ha. Ha. You two are freaking hilarious.” No matter how much he owed Cork, this wasn’t going to happen. On board for five minutes, Molly spilled something, ruined his favorite shirt, and fell into him. He had to let her go before the bus hit the highway. Finn growled without letting the sound escape. A week earlier he had to let his keyboard player go. Freddie had it coming, but it still sucked severing the ties. And this situation was about to suck too. Finn squared his shoulders. “Nothing personal, Molly, but this isn’t going to work out.”
Molly’s back stiffened, and Finn was pretty sure those incredible brown eyes called him a “jerk”. He made sure his eyes countered with “clumsy”.
For a few suspended seconds, the only audible sound was a sharp intake of air; it wasn’t clear who took it.
“You’re firing me before I even start?”
Cork hissed his displeasure. Finn ignored him and focused on something in Molly’s voice. It wasn’t the anger; more like the pathetic twinge of failure. Dammit. He didn’t have time to deal with this. They needed to get on the road. “You won’t be happy working for me. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
Cork chimed in with, “A bit?”
Finn launched an indirect threat with a severe eye squint.
Cork blew it off with a goofy smirk.
“I’m a germ-a-phobe and a heartless bastard when things don’t go right.” That was mostly true. He didn’t exactly have a phobia about germs but he was a clean freak. The heartless bastard part was dead on.
Molly’s mouth dropped open causing his to do the same – for very different reasons. His unabashed truth obviously caught her by surprise. Her lush, pink lips caught him. The dog in him wondered if everything was as lush and pink as those lips. He had a ridiculous urge to move in close. Thank God his brain kicked back in before he did.
He didn’t need the distraction of Molly. As though his mind had a backspace key, he corrected the thought – he didn’t need the distraction of an incredible mouth and great boobs. The second she stepped on the bus he noticed her phenomenal chest, and right now, the hint of cleavage peeking from the v-neckline of her shirt wanted him to take notice again. Don’t look. Don’t… He was a boob-guy and man did she have them. That figure and that mouth were going to cause problems. To compensate for the sudden and out-of-place burst of lust, he added more grit to his voice. “I like everything just so and when it’s not I get more than a little testy.” That was putting it mildly. “I’m sure you’re a great gal, but I don’t need an assistant. This was Cork’s hare-brained idea.”
Finn detected a slight sag in her shoulders and it made him feel like an even bigger heel. But he had to do this. His obsessive personality alone could cause problems. Add in her great boobs. And there was potential for a whole lot of crazy. He was actually doing her a favor by turning her away.
Molly’s wilted stance lasted no more than a blink. “I certainly don’t want to waste my summer catering to a heartless bastard.”
It was one thing to call himself a heartless bastard, quite another to hear her say it. “That’s right. You don’t want to waste your summer on the likes of me.” Satisfied that he’d made his point, he crossed his arms and stood with his feet apart. The rest of her comment sank in. “Nobody said you had to cater to me. I’m quite capable of…”
Cork stepped in front of Molly. “Okay you two. No use going at each other.” He feigned defeat.
Pfft. Finn knew the real Cork Wallace; a heartless-bastard just like him, who didn’t know the meaning of defeat.
Cork continued. “I thought this arrangement would work out. Looks like I was wrong.” He did a half-turn to Molly. “Sorry. He’s being a bonehead.”
The satchel slipped from Molly’s shoulder again, a split second of panic raced across her expression.
Finn felt bad for making a huge deal of things, but there was no use pretending he was a nice guy. Occasionally, he tried to relax and be the guy he wanted to be – easy-going, ordinary, a bit of a slob – it just didn’t happen.
Molly exhaled a breath. “This gig isn’t what you described anyway, Cork. If anything, it would add more stress.” Finn homed in on the angst behind her words. When she lowered her long eyelashes as though she accepted her fate, he took the bait; could feel the damn hook in his cheek. She took a step toward the door.
“Wait.” Now what? Make life crazier by taking her on? Sure, why the hell not? His life was already chaos; organized chaos, but it worked. Adding more could quite possibly change the dynamics of everything.
Molly pinned him with a solid look. “That’s okay. I don’t want to be in the way.”
Cal intervened. “It’s time to go. What’s it going to be?”
Finn’s brain was stuck; his mouth, however, was not. “She’s staying – on a trial basis.” He removed Molly’s satchel from her shoulder
** Thank you for reading the first chapter of Finn and Molly's story! If you'd like to find out what happens next, you can find Three Days With Molly at:
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Three-Days-With-Molly-ebook/dp/B0099SDQMS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357414996&sr=8-1&keywords=three+days+with+molly
BarnesandNoble.com - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/three-days-with-molly-jan-romes/1112878875?ean=2940015701500