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Help Wanted

Help Wanted

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A hunky artist answers Rosie’s want ad — and fulfills all of her needs.

Some women stop thinking — and others stop speaking — when they encounter a man as ruggedly good looking as the specimen who was standing in front of me. I hit the daily double, though; I neither thought nor spoke as we faced each other. Well, at least I didn’t drool.

“You’re looking for a hot dishwasher?” Jerry asked.

I gazed at him stupidly, almost as if there were an actual question mark hovering over my head. 

He wasn’t a complete stranger to me. Jerry had been in my little eatery from time to time over the past few weeks, sitting at the counter and drawing on a notepad. He’d ordered cups of coffee and always offered me a friendly smile.

The first day he’d shown up, I’d exchanged looks with my friend Amanda, wide-eyed because of his stunning physique. He was the type of guy who didn’t seem to realize his effect on women. His mind always seemed to be elsewhere. He was often paint-splattered, bits of blue on his cheekbone, splashes of tangerine and lemon on his jeans. I’d grown accustomed to his schedule — showing up after lunch but before dinner.

Once I’d even managed to introduce myself under the guise of a concerned owner making sure her customers were satisfied. He correctly guessed my name was Rosie before I mentioned it, but that’s easy since my place is called Rosie’s. When our hands connected, I’d felt sparks between us. The rush of excitement left me tongue-tied, which was no matter because I’d approached him as he was preparing to leave. There hadn’t been any time to fan those magical sparks into flames.

But what was Jerry talking about now?

Oh, that’s right. Amanda had said I needed to hire someone. She had told me, “You wear a chef’s hat, a waitress’s apron, um, a restauranteur’s underpants.”

“Underpants?”

“Whatever. I’m assuming you wear underpants.”

“Boy shorts.” The striped pink ones that day, with a row of delicate pearl buttons down the front. Not that anyone was going to undo them, or even see them. Nobody but me had gotten a glimpse of my panties since I’d opened my small café the year before. I was too busy dealing with all aspects of the business to even think about satisfying my libido.

“You wear all the hats and clothes,” Amanda had continued as she poured herself a cup of my coffee. “And you do everything.”

“But I’ve got you.”

“Well, that’s the thing…”

I looked at her, and the light finally went on. She’s my best friend, and she’d been helping me manage my messy life in between her Master’s studies and what she’d hoped was an acceptance to her chosen doctoral program. She’d pulled an envelope from her bag and showed me the letter that held good news for her — and bad news for me. She was leaving, and I needed to hire help.

“You’re looking for a hot dishwasher?” Jerry repeated a little more emphatically, clearly hoping for a response.

He removed a folded white sheet of paper from his back pocket, spread the flyer out on the counter and pointed to the words. I was staring at his jeans. The dark denim fit him to perfection, and I suddenly experienced a wave of jealousy toward his hand for thrusting so nonchalantly into his pocket. His hand could go wherever it wanted to! I wanted to put my hand in his pocket…but not the back one. Maybe I could reach my fingers into that little useless pocket near the button fly, and stroke…

“Right here,” he said, pointing downward. I dumbly looked at the paper on the counter, at the bold black letters that read: Hot Dishwasher Wanted.

What?!

Amanda had helped me with the flyer. I’d dictated, and she’d typed. Then she’d printed off the sheets and pinned them to bulletin boards at the post office, the library and the university. She had really wanted to set me up before taking off. I appreciated every bit of her help, because I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own. I realized that now.

After “Hot Dishwasher” was a brief description of duties and the address and phone number for my restaurant.

“Oh!” I blushed. “That was supposed to read host and dishwasher,” I said, more to myself than to him. “Host. Not Hot. Host.”

Had Amanda made the typo on purpose, in the hope of finding me not only a new employee but also a new boyfriend?

“What a difference a letter makes,” Jerry said wryly, his voice an easygoing drawl. “An extra “S” changes desert to dessert…crew to screw…hot to host.”

I wanted to screw him and eat him for dessert. I could imagine every luscious lick, my tongue tracing over his lips, then heading lower…

“I wasn’t sure if the ad was for real or not,” he continued in response to my silence, “and I didn’t know if you would think I was hot. I mean, that’s always subjective, isn’t it? What’s hot to one person can be something else to the next.”

Blue eyes. Long dark hair. Partially unbuttoned shirt that let me see a bit of his chest hair. I had fantasized from time to time about Jerry, whenever I found myself in bed with a few wispy moments of consciousness before sleep took me away.

I swallowed and said, “You’re hot. Trust me.”

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