The muffled opening click of a car door broke the silence, and Trent moved to see the person getting out – more like slithering out – of the SUV.
A slim pair of legs emerged and wobbled uncertainly for a second when the sandal-clad feet hit the asphalt. When the door closed, he saw a short denim dress hugging a tiny frame. Straight black hair brushed the shoulders and the lapels of the collar, and framed a lovely, delicate face.
Trent had to blink a few times. The woman, or the girl, looked like a life-size doll. She stood barely taller than five feet, and was so small it looked like he could encircle her waist with his hands. Her eyes were deep-set and dark, rimmed with dark kohl. Her golden skin was pale underneath her makeup, and she bit her full lips, as if trying to work some color into them.
“Thank God that dog is alive,” she said in a light, youthful voice. “I sure would’ve hated to have killed it. Lucky there isn’t any damage.”
Her voice reminded him of laughter, and the tinkling of fragile crystal flutes. Shaking off the bizarre notion, he focused on her words, and a slow throb built in his blood. The overwhelming feeling settled as a twitch in his cheek, and he winced when a stab of pain shot from his clenched jaw.
No damage? She thought there was no damage? What about his car? “Lady, you just demolished my car.”
Nothing betrayed her cool composure when her gaze traveled to his rental car and back again onto him. “Sorry, but you hit from behind. You’re at fault.”
He opened his mouth to give her a fitting reply, but only a gasp escaped him. She’d stopped dead in the middle of the road, and it was his fault? Was she unconscious or what? “If it weren’t for you, it wouldn’t have happened.”
She pursed her full lips, and her chin jutted out in a fierce way as her hands settled on her hips. She craned her slender neck to look into his face. “Well, I should’ve killed the dog? That’s what you wanted?” she asked. “And you wouldn’t have jammed into my car if you hadn’t been tailgating me.”
“I wasn’t tailgating you—”
“Yes, you were,” she replied with defiance. “And you were speeding, at least a hundred where the limit is eighty.”
He couldn’t believe his ears. “Miss, you were going faster than me, so don’t get on your high horse here.”
“Stop evading the issue. It’s your fault.”
Disbelief strangled his throat as he stared at her. She glared back, not in the least bit intimidated by the fact he towered above her by more than a foot. At the same time, he flinched under her accusing words. Kill the dog. Right – like he’d have wanted to kill a poor animal. What was it about this scrap of a girl that had him so ruffled? A thought struck him, and he voiced it out loud. “Are you even old enough to drive?”
“I’m twenty-four years old, for your information,” she spat out.
“Jeez, that’s supposed to make me feel better?” he retorted. What difference did it make if she was legal? Other than she could be held responsible for the accident.
“My car is damaged, and it’s your fault.”
Her dark eyes grew even darker as they narrowed on him. Fire – or ice – burnt in them. Her voice however dripped with frost when she said, “I thought British men were supposed to be courteous.”
“I beg your pardon?” He couldn’t believe it. She’d done it again – he was struck speechless.
Her hand fluttered before her in an evasive gesture as she shook her head. “You know, proper British manners. Can’t say you’ve shown any so far.”
“How do you know I’m British? Does it read not-from-Mauritius somewhere on my face?”
“Your accent,” she replied. “You speak just like Hugh Grant.”
Hugh Grant? That pasty-faced pin-up? “Thanks. That’s a very positive compliment.”
Trent had the pleasure of seeing his sarcasm unsettle the unnerving Miss Know-it-all. Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glowered at him.
“You’re so…” she paused and seemed to look around for the proper word. “Obnoxious,” she spat out a few seconds later.
He’d been called many things in his life, but this one was a first. And coming from a tiny lady like her, he didn’t know whether to laugh or be annoyed. It was a long time since he’d had such a verbal joust with someone. He had to admit it was as stimulating as it was unnerving. But dammit, he had no time to ponder upon that. He was getting late. And he itched to shut that busybody up.
“Jeez, that’s incredible,” he said. “A pretty head as yours came up with such a big word. I sure hope you won’t get a nosebleed from too much brain activity—”
He stopped short when he noticed something on her face. Horrified, he stood there, his jaw slackening as his mouth hung open.
“What?” she asked.
He pointed at her face. “Your nose. It’s bleeding.”