Stern(9)

By: Brenda Jackson


But he knew JoJo and she had made up her mind about this guy whose name she refused to give him. The thought of this unnamed man made him mad, and then madder each and every time he thought about him. So Stern decided that the best thing to do was to keep an eye on her and make sure she didn’t get into trouble or into any situation she couldn’t handle.

“Well, I do want to talk about it now, and I’m thinking a makeover might not work after all.”

She frowned. “Why?”

He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Your mystery man won’t get to know the real you.”

She rolled her eyes. “He can get to know the real me later. First, I need to get him to notice me. So I think the makeover will work, and you did say you would help me. Don’t try wiggling out of it now.”

“I’m not.” He paused. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Hurt?” She glanced around as if to make sure none of her employees were within hearing range. “Are you saying you don’t think that a makeover will help me? That I’m so much of a reject that even a makeover wouldn’t do me any good?”

“No, that’s not what—”

“Well I’ve got news for you, Stern. I’ve seen even the ugliest of women and men become beautiful and handsome. So there’s no reason to believe a makeover can’t do wonders for me, too.”

“That’s not what I was insinuating, JoJo.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll show you,” she said, then walked off toward the first car she would be working on.

He rubbed his hand down his face in frustration. What was going on here? He and JoJo never fought or argued about anything, and now they seemed to be bickering back and forth about every damn thing.

All he’d said was that he didn’t want to see her hurt. Why would she think he’d meant that a makeover wouldn’t help her? In truth, he knew it would help her and that’s what he was worried about. Men would be coming on to her for all the wrong reasons.

He glanced over at her as she leaned over the car to look under the hood. He couldn’t help noticing how her work pants stretched tightly over her backside. Her perfectly shaped backside. Damn, why was he checking out JoJo?

He drew in a frustrated breath. “I’ll call you later.”

“Whatever,” she mumbled without even bothering to look up.

Stern left, feeling as if he’d made the situation between them worse instead of better.





Three

“Here’s the information you wanted on that Carmichael dude.”

JoJo looked up into the face of a petite blonde who didn’t look her age. A copy of Wanda’s birth certificate in her employment file indicated she was nearing sixty, but if you asked Wanda she would swear she wasn’t even fifty yet. And since she had the face and figure to back it up, no one had dared to call her on it.

JoJo picked up the card Wanda had tossed on her desk. “He lives in Cherry Hills Village.” The Village was one of the most affluent suburbs in Denver.

“You’re surprised? Look how he dresses. Look at the car he drives. Not to mention what he does for a living.”

JoJo nodded. “He’s thirty-one, the same age as Stern. And according to what you’ve found out, he’s not in an exclusive relationship.”

“Also like Stern.”

JoJo shifted her gaze from the card to Wanda, who was pretending to peruse JoJo’s bulletin board. She’d known Wanda long enough to recognize the smile the older woman was trying to hide. “Well, yes,” JoJo admitted. “Like Stern.”

Wanda tilted her head and met JoJo’s gaze. “Come to think of it, there’s a lot about this Carmichael man that would remind a person of Stern. Is there a reason for that?”

JoJo decided she didn’t want to hold Wanda’s gaze any longer. The woman was sharp. “What do you think?”

JoJo couldn’t resist watching Wanda out of the corners of her eyes. She saw Wanda look thoughtful for a moment before she said, “Do you really want me to tell you what I think, Jovonnie?”

JoJo tried to ignore the tension building at her temples. Whenever Wanda called her by her full name JoJo knew Wanda would go into “it’s time I tell it the way I see it” mode.