“Come. On,” I grunted, pulling one way and pushing another. “Stupid piece of junk!”
I threw the tire iron on the ground and jumped out of the way when it bounced. The last thing I needed was a bruise because I was a clumsy dumbass. I kicked the black rubber before wiping my hand across my face to move the stray auburn hair that clung to my forehead. My knees were blackened from the dirty asphalt and my hands were covered in brownish muck.
I was a complete mess.
I wiped my hands on my thighs and sat down on the curb, preparing to call my dad to drive over and save me.
“Do you need some help?” a low voice asked.
The sun blazed down, obstructing my view. Not even shielding my eyes seemed to help. All I could make out was a towering shadow a few feet away that was intimidating as hell. A gray Range Rover was parked behind him across the street, and I assumed it belonged to Mr. Tall-and-Helpful. He squatted down next to the tire, giving me an unobstructed view of him.
He wore gold-rimmed aviators and a baseball cap that hid his face well. But his full lips that were curved into a smirk had me entranced. I tried to avert my eyes to anywhere but his lips, knowing that he might be able to see exactly what I was thinking.
I cleared my throat and dropped my gaze, and it landed on the white T-shirt clinging to his chest. His pecs were straining beneath the thin material and it dawned on me as I continued to look him over that his muscles appeared to be bulging everywhere. Hell, his neck was probably the same size as one of my thighs.
After my breakup with Philip the year before, I’d sworn to myself that I would never rely on a man again—even for something as small as a tire change.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a man-hater by any means. I loved men. But I’d depended on Philip so heavily that I’d started to lose myself in the process. Once I’d found me again, I didn’t want to let go.
But sometimes you need help, whether you want to admit it or not.
“I—I’ll be fine,” I lied, scrambling to my feet to give me some distance. I had a better view of the guy and I was unable to say anything more. Mr. Tall-Helpful-and-Gorgeous let out a disarming huff and it shook me from my perusal of his body.
“I’m sure you will,” he said before stepping around me, picking up the tire iron, and pointing to the flat.
“Sure.” I shrugged. “I’ve only been trying for the last fifteen minutes.”
“I know.” He smirked as he placed it over the lug nut. With one strong push, he loosened it.
“You know?” I questioned, laughing softly. “How long have you been watching me?”
“Looked like you were determined to do it alone. Didn’t want to step on your toes,” he said without a hint of sarcasm.
“Oh,” was all I could say in response.
His hands moved swiftly, removing the rest of the lug nuts and setting them aside. I was fascinated at how easy the whole thing was for him, and I was grateful for his help.
“I’m Tabor,” he said as he put the car jack in place.
“Dani,” I answered. “And thanks.”
He flashed a smile over his shoulder before he turned back to the tire. I touched my hair and realized I probably looked like a frazzled mess. Sweat was running down my spine, my clothes were smudged with dirt and grime, and I was pretty sure my mascara was trudging into raccoon territory.
“So do you make it a daily ritual to scour the neighborhood for damsels in distress, or do you happen to live around here?” I asked, though it came out rude and not playful as I intended.
I was grateful for his help, but it wasn’t coming through in my tone. My friends always told me my sarcastic, dry personality was off-putting, and when I wanted to rein it in, I failed miserably.
“Are you asking me if I come here often?” His eyebrow arched slightly over his sunglasses suggestively and he laughed as I stared at him feeling mortified.