Dallas’ Most Eligible

 Chapter One 

 

What three qualities do you look for in a potential girlfriend? 

The moment Darrin Mann found a pair of panties in his mail was the moment he decided to get the hell out of Dodge. 

To be fair, this wasn’t the first pair of random panties he’d been gifted over the past month. These were by far the most outrageous, though, he thought as he lifted them out of the box they’d been shipped in. 

Even though he rolled his eyes, he had to give the sender credit—the lacy red crotchless g-string was certainly inventive, if not a little unnecessary. What was the point of a crotchless g-string? Might as well wear nothing at all. 

He sighed and threw them in the trash, along with the box they’d been shipped in. How these women kept getting his home address was beyond him, but the fan mail—so to speak—was getting ridiculous. 

He padded over to the refrigerator and pulled out a locally brewed IPA before making his way to his home office. No sooner had he sat down than his cell vibrated in his back pocket. 

He pulled it out and smiled when he saw the name on the screen. 

“Hey, man. What’s up?” 

“Jenn’s having a panic attack because you haven’t RSVP’d yet. Do you really want to upset a pregnant woman?” his client and best friend Matt Roberts asked. 

“Since I really like your future wife, no, I don’t want to upset her. I’ve been trying to get a couple of contracts wrapped up before Spring Training ends and it’s looking like that may not happen, along with prepping a couple of guys for the NFL draft. You know how crazy this time of year can be.” 

“Preaching to the choir, man.” 

He sat down in his desk chair and woke up his laptop. “I know. The wedding’s this weekend, right?” 

“Uh, yes.” 

“I feel like a shitty friend.” 

“Don’t. Just try to be here. Hell, I’ll even forgive you if you work a little while you’re here.” 

Darrin laughed just as his doorbell rang. 

“You need to get that?” Matt asked. 

“Nope.” 

“Afraid it’s another bachelorette on your doorstep?” 

“Absolutely. It’s getting ridiculous.” 

“You’re the one who decided to do the Dallas’ Most Eligible thing.” 

He ran a hand over his face as his doorbell rang again. “When they approached me I figured it could be good, harmless publicity. I didn’t realize things would get so crazy.” 

Matt laughed. “You should’ve known things would get nutty, D. You’re a reasonably attractive, highly successful single man with twenty-four seven access to pro athletes. Of course women are going to harass you.” 

The doorbell rang again. “Jesus,” Darrin muttered as he got up to politely tell his unexpected visitor to go away. “Give me a second, Matt, whoever’s at the door is being quite insistent.” 

“No worries.” 

Darrin swung open the door to find himself face to face with what he had to admit was a spectacular pair of breasts. A spectacular pair of breasts that was covered by nothing more than a sheer white bustier. 

His gaze flashed up to the breast owner’s face and he barely bit back a groan at the hopeful look in the woman’s eyes. Jesus, this was beyond too much. 

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” 

She rested a hand on a barely covered hip and cocked her head to the side. “You know you don’t mean that.” 

“Oh yes, I do. And if you’re not off my property in the next two minutes I’m calling the cops and having you arrested for trespassing.” 

Matt chuckled on the other end of the line. Darrin’s hand tightened on the phone. The lingerie-clad woman in front of him batted her eyelashes and pouted. 

“Hey, man, let me call you back. Looks like I need to call the police,” he said to Matt. Who just laughed. The asshole. 

Before he could even hit the End button the woman turned and beat a hasty retreat down his front walk and to a sporty blue hatchback parked at the curb. As she flounced away Darrin couldn’t help but look down—she was attractive and he was a man who generally enjoyed women—and got an eye full of bare ass. Firm, rounded bare ass. 

“Apparently my unexpected visitor is familiar with squats,” he said to Matt as the woman slammed her car door. 

“You’re seriously checking her out?” 

“Dude, on the crazy-hot scale she was a solid nine.” 

Matt whistled. “That means she should also come with a warning label.” 

“Absolutely. And tell Jenn I’ll be there for the wedding on Saturday.” The woman sped away, waving her thong out the window as she did so. “You know what? I think I might come down a few days early.” 

 

Miranda Jacobson slowly backed away from the axis buck, trying to figure out the best way to get his antlers untangled from the bale of hay he’d managed to get himself stuck in. 

Poor little guy was caught good, and her presence only seemed to be agitating him more. Wildlife rescues could sometimes be fraught with danger, and deer were no exception with their powerful legs and sharp antlers. 

Resigned, she unclipped her walkie talkie from her waistband. “Hey, Daniel, you free to help me rescue a deer?” 

“Sure. What do you need and where are you?” 

“I’m over by the hay bales; he got his antlers tangled in the bailing wire. Could you bring something long and sharp to cut it with?” 

“No problemo. Be there in a few.” 

Miranda re-clipped her radio and considered the scene in front of her. Depending on what tools Daniel brought she might be able to climb on top of the bale and cut from there, which would keep her firmly out of harm’s way. Otherwise, she could maybe go around to the opposite side of the bale and make the cut there. She would also have to hope like hell the buck didn’t charge her or that she could get to higher ground if necessary. 

A few minutes later Daniel appeared with a pole saw in one hand and a pair of loppers in the other. She raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. 

He shrugged. “What? It was the best I could come up with on short notice.” 

“You seriously couldn’t find some wire cutters?” she muttered before saying loud enough for Daniel to hear, “Hand me the loppers.” 

“What? No. I’m not letting you get that close to him. He could kill you.” 

She rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Daniel?” 

“What?” 

She made a noise of frustration and took the loppers from him. 

“Hey!” 

“Just stay out of the way,” she said as she walked towards the hay bale. There was a smaller stack of bales behind it, which she used to boost herself up onto the bigger round bale. 

“What are you doing?” Daniel called. 

She gritted her teeth. 

“Seriously, Miranda. You’re gonna get hurt.” 

“For the love of God, Daniel, I’m a grown ass woman and if you haven’t noticed this is my freaking job. Just stop it.” 

His stricken expression almost made her apologize. Almost. But she’d had it up to here with his puppy dog eyes and over-protective act, especially considering she’d never given him any indication she was interested in anything other than a working friendship. 

She was a single mom, for crying out loud! She barely had time to brush her hair much less think about dating. 

“Sorry,” Daniel mumbled. 

Miranda bit back her sigh. He was a good guy—she just wasn’t interested. Maybe Caridad knew someone they could set Daniel up with and focus his attention elsewhere… 

The deer snorted and stomped, bringing her back to the task at hand. 

What the hell was wrong with her, letting her mind wander like that with six sharp points only a few feet below her? 

She collected herself and slowly inched towards the edge of the bale. First, she needed to get a better look at exactly how he was tangled before making a final game plan. 

She peered over the side and was relieved to see the buck had simply managed to get one of his tines stuck in between the hay and the bailing wire. This she should be able to work with, provided the loppers would actually cut through the bailing wire. 

She extended the handles as far as they would go and as slowly and quietly as possible lowered the blades towards the wire; startling the young buck could only make the situation worse. She managed to work the wire in between the blades and used every ounce of upper body strength she had to cut through the wire.  The buck—still thrashing his head around—seemed momentarily confused by his sudden freedom before running away from them and the main buildings. Miranda smiled and mentally high-fived herself for a job well done. 

She scrambled down from the bales and walked back over to Daniel, who had a look of scared appreciation on his face. She handed him the loppers and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna bite off your head again. Just have a little faith, won’t ya?” 

He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down with the movement, drawing her attention to his throat. Not for the first time, it occurred to her that Daniel Hernandez was a very attractive man. Had she met him before becoming a mom and getting her heart trampled on, she probably would have been more than open to his obvious interest. 

But she was a mom and she had had her heart broken by Trevor’s father and, well, she didn’t have time for dating or sex or even daydreaming about sex. So while Daniel’s interest was flattering, it was also maddening. 

“You realize you’re the perfect woman, right?” 

She rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I need to go check on a couple of feeders and put up a new game cam before Trevor gets home. Thanks for the loppers.” 

He made a sound of frustration. “Seriously, Miranda, you’re absolutely perfect and I think I’m in love with you and want to marry you.” 

Oh, for the love of…she took a deep breath and prayed for patience. Thankfully her tone was gentle when she spoke.  “Daniel, I’m flattered. I really am. And you’re a great guy, but I don’t have the time or the desire to be in a relationship. I’m still settling in here and I have Trevor and…I’m sorry, Daniel.” 

His shoulders fell and he kicked at the dirt with the toe of his boot. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that just then. It was completely out of line and unprofessional.” 

“Hey. Don’t ever apologize for expressing your feelings, okay? That way lies madness.” 

He looked at her and grinned. “You really are the perfect woman.” 

She snorted. “Hardly. 

“Don’t keep selling yourself short, okay?” 

“I’m not. Anyway. Are we good here? I really do need to go check on those feeders before Trevor gets home from school.” 

“Uh, sure. Radio if you need anything.” 

“I will,” she said as she walked towards the UTV she’d been on her way to when she’d seen the deer. She cranked the engine, shifted into Drive, and felt a huge sense of relief as she drove away from Daniel. Good Lord that had been awkward. 

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