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Whoever said the quest for love wasn’t comical never met Charlene Randall. Charley is looking for a man who wants to start a family, a man who will take her to the temple. Problem is, she has never dated a man for longer than three months. When she reads an internet article called “Ten Ways to Win Your Man,” she decides to try it on her new coworker, Maxwell Harrington. Max was her crush in high school, but the superstar sports anchorman doesn’t even remember her.
Enter ladies’ man Damien Giovianni, Charley’s handsome neighbor, who agrees to help her win Max over. What follows is a hilarious story of mishaps and misunderstandings where Charley learns that what she really needs may be right in front of her.
A gentle evening breeze teased the strands of hair that had fallen out of Charlene’s ponytail and tickled her neck. In an automatic reaction, she flipped a stray lock. It was a good thing she didn’t wear her hair long. She already wasted enough time styling it.
Next to her townhouse, shadows danced under the streetlights and throaty giggles floated in the breeze. A movement from the Lexus parked in front of her neighbor’s townhouse caught her attention. She recognized the wave of the man’s raven hair and the shape of his muscular shoulders.
Damien Giovanni, her single, Italian neighbor who had turned romancing women into a career, was obviously doing what he did best—getting another woman to fall for his charms. Charley rolled her eyes.
On tiptoe, she sneaked toward her front door, not wanting to make her presence known. Damien’s deep laughter rang through the quiet night and made her pause before reaching her porch. Could his date be over so early in the evening? That man entertained women late into the night just about every night. She didn’t want to know what they did. In fact, she wouldn’t blame the Lord if he launched a lightning bolt down on Damien just to wake him up and put him on the straight and narrow.
The glow from the streetlight shone upon the figures leaning against each other beside the door of Damien’s sports car. Despite herself, Charley angled to get a better look. They looked like two worms in electric-shock therapy. How disgusting!
The woman in Damien’s arms was his usual five-foot eight, blonde Barbie doll. He laughed again, and the baritone ring sent warm shivers down Charley’s spine. She cursed her weakness, admitting she enjoyed hearing his voice. It must be his Italian accent. Then again, she didn’t hear his accent when he laughed, so maybe it was how he laughed—like he knew a secret. Either way she couldn’t stand men like him who never could settle on one woman.
The Barbie wannabe raked her extra-long, fake fingernails through his hair and linked her arms around his neck. Damien grabbed her closer and planted a kiss on her mouth. Charley grumbled under her breath. Couldn’t he do that in his house? It was bad enough to hear his voice, but to see him in action . . .
Before she could look away, Damien pushed the woman from him and grinned. “See you later.”
Barbie waggled her fingers. “Call me.”
“Why? You have my number.”
Charley pursed her lips. The arrogant man. It didn’t matter, though. Women still flocked to him like dieters to a chocolate factory, and they devoured his charm just as quickly.
She clutched the briefcase to her chest and rushed to her front door before he spotted her. Damien would certainly know she had witnessed the quaint scene a few seconds ago, and he would never let her live it down. Her neighbor always enjoyed making snide remarks just to rile her—and it worked.
Fumbling with her keys, Charley hurried to find the one that opened her front door. They slipped from her fingers and hit the porch, clanging loud enough to wake the dead. She scolded her clumsiness, knelt on one knee, and swept her hand over the concrete, searching for them in the dark. Why hadn’t she turned on the porch light before she left for work?
“Do you need any help, mí amore?”
She jumped and fell back on her rear. The beating of her heart thundered in her ears, and she placed a hand on her chest. “Damien Giovanni, why do you always sneak up on me like that?”
He bent and grasped her upper arm with one hand and her keys with the other. “Because I like the way you jump.”
Heat from his touch crept up her arm, so she yanked it away. “One of these days you’re going to scare me so bad I’ll use my can of pepper spray.”
Damien’s chest shook, deep laughter spilling from his lips. “Honey, if you’re as steady with the little can of pepper spray as you are with your keys, I don’t see that as a threat.”
She fisted her hand and punched his arm, a grin tugging at her mouth. It was hard not to like him despite his reputation. “Just give me back my keys.”
He stepped away and folded his arms. “Say the magic words.” He wagged his eyebrows in that self-assured, infuriating way of his.
He tilted his head and laughed harder. The half moon illuminated his handsome features—straight nose, strong chin, and lips that looked like they’d be heaven to kiss . . . for other women, of course.
“Oh, mí amore, you really know how to tickle my funny bone.” He dangled the keys in front of her.
“Yeah, well, you really know how to . . . um . . . irritate me.”