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Life as the marketing director for a popular fashion boutique is overwhelming for Leila Sparrow, to say the least.
She’s not sure what ever possessed her to add revamping her dating life to her already hectic schedule. Calling in renowned Date Shark, Eli Walsh seemed like a good idea until she actually met with him…
Date Shark was only meant to be a side-enterprise to his thriving couple’s therapy practice, but Eli Walsh knows it’s become more of an obsession.
At least, it was until he agreed to take on Leila. Somehow she has stolen his entire focus. He wants to admit his fascination with her and growing romantic interest, but he knows coming on too strong will scare her away.
His plan to convince her that she is worth any man’s interest by first being her friend is challenged when his tips start to pay off and Leila begins dating Luke.
Will his friendship with Leila mean the end to any romantic pursuit?
Despite the fact that Eli held his arm out for Leila to take again like they were some kind of fairytale couple, she started forward without him. Pierce was there to open the door for her. Leila gave him a polite goodbye, careful to watch the inclined entrance as she left. The city air outside the restaurant was undoubtedly filled with pollution and ick, but she breathed it in anyway. She had such high hopes for tonight. All she wanted to do now was climb into bed and pretend she didn’t have to meet with Eli the next day.
“Where did you park?” Eli asked.
He was smart to guess Leila hadn’t used the valet. She had never been to a restaurant that had a valet, so she hadn’t been sure how it worked. Every once in a while Leila thought ahead and prevented herself from doing something stupid. “I’m three blocks down. I couldn’t find a space near the restaurant.”
“North or south?”
“Um, south,” she said, glancing that direction then back at Eli. It must have rained while they were inside. Leila wasn’t too worried about her shoes, but she worried Eli’s monkstrap dress shoes and tailored slacks might not survive the trek. The crisp April air made the dampness even more profound. “Look, Eli, you’re sweet to offer to walk me to my car, but I know you have better things to do. You don’t need to feel obligated since …”
“Since this isn’t a real date?” he finished.
“Real date or not,” Eli said, placing her hand on his arm, “I have no intention of letting a young woman walk three city blocks at night all alone. Lead the way, Leila.”
He was really only offering because his sense of chivalry was several notches higher than the majority of the male gender, but Leila still found herself smiling at his kindness. She clutched onto his arm a little more tightly and started forward. The three blocks passed quickly, but without incident. Leila was sure it was the nicest part of the whole night.
When they reached her car, Eli said, “Are you still all right meeting for lunch tomorrow?”
“Yes,” she said after a moment’s hesitation.
“Good. I will see you tomorrow at The Fifth Street Café. Twelve o’clock.”
“I’ll be there,” Leila said, even though she would rather be just about anywhere else.
Smiling as though he knew exactly what she was thinking, Eli opened the car door for her. Before she could get in Eli stopped her. His hand resting lightly on her shoulder made Leila’s tense muscles bunch up even more. “Hey,” he said, “relax. Go home and do something just for you. You should feel good, proud of yourself.”
“Why?” Had they been on different fake dates tonight?
“Because if nothing else, you just survived a night with the most notorious date shark in the city.”
“Notorious, huh? Nothing about you strikes me as notorious.” Debonair, maybe. Handsome and generally fabulous.
Eli laughed. “Goodnight, Leila Sparro.” Then he did something completely unexpected. He kissed Leila’s cheek and walked away.
Leila slid into her car and touched her cheek. He must do that for everyone, she thought, but her skin seemed to pulse where he had kissed her. The only thing that broke up her amazement was Eli’s comment about tonight. She hadn’t survived the most notorious date shark in the city yet. Tomorrow she would get to hear about all the ways she screwed up. There was no way she was surviving that.