The Devil She Knew

By: Talia Hunter

When Suzie’s gaze turned to the seating plan, horror slowly dawned. Instead of just printing everyone’s names, Laura had made up a puzzle for each person, so you had to work out the equation to see where you were sitting. Laura’s version of fun was Suzie’s worst nightmare. Would she be the only guest too dumb to figure out where she was sitting?

Staring at the numbers, Suzie fought back a groan. Being the dunce of the family had been bad enough when Suzie was growing up. The last thing she needed was a reminder of her shortcomings before heading home to tackle a big challenge. Just her luck, she’d need the formula explained to her, then she’d end up sitting next to one of her sister’s brainiac buddies who’d treat her like she needed to be taught how to use a fork.

Suzie caught a whiff of delicious cologne. A man was standing behind her studying the board over her shoulder, and boy, did he smell good. She turned slowly, making the movement casual. Tall. Broad shoulders. Square jaw. Hair so dark it was almost black, razor short on the sides and long enough on top to have the perfect touch of artful scruffiness. Holy mother of dragons, this guy was way too good looking, he had to be married. Her eyes dropped, searching for a ring and not finding one. Could her luck have finally changed?

He turned gorgeous brown eyes on her and her knees went weak. Wowser. Now that was a face she could imagine waking up next to.

“Hi.” She gave him the most alluring smile she could manage when he’d already sucked the breath out of her lungs.

His eyes narrowed and he didn’t smile back. “You don’t recognize me, do you?”

She stared at him, shocked. No way could she have met a man this hot before and not remembered him. So why he was looking at her like she’d done bad things to him, and not in a fun way?

“Ah…” She gulped. “Maybe you’ve mistaken me for someone else?”

The look he gave her could only be described as a glare. “Shall I give you a clue, Suzie? We were at school together, and my parents used to own the store on the corner of your street.”

She frowned, thinking back to when she was a teenager. “No, you can’t be…?”

Her mind was racing. Was he really Harrison, the boy who’d worked behind the counter? She’d had a crush on him and finally worked up the courage to ask him out. On the night that was supposed to be their first date he’d never turned up to collect her, and when she’d stormed up to him the next day, confused and angry, he’d said some awful things.

Although she remembered Harrison being cute, he sure didn’t look anywhere near this good back then. He’d had a shaved head, six studs in his ear, and three in his lip. She’d wondered how she’d kiss him with all that hardware in the way.

No, this man didn’t look like Harrison. Different mouth shape. Different eyes.

Suzie’s blood went cold. Could it be Harrison’s kid brother?

“Milhouse?” she breathed.

“Thank you for giving me that nickname.” His voice was soaked in sarcasm. “Do you even know my real name?”

She swallowed. What on earth was his real name? He’d always been Milhouse to her. “You don’t wear glasses anymore,” she said, stalling.

“I had laser surgery.”

Suddenly her memories were flooding back. Milhouse had been the nerdiest of the nerds. A friend of Laura’s because they’d been in all the advanced classes together, and the math and science clubs. He’d always made her feel stupid, the way he talked to Laura about things she had no hope of understanding, though she was a year older than them both.

She’d hated him. Hated the way he used to compete with Laura to be top of every class. His arrogant swagger when he collected his endless awards. And worst of all, the way he’d made up a lie about her that had taken her years to live down.

“How dare you?” She clenched her fists. Oh yes, it was all coming back to her what an asshole he was. “What did I ever do to you?”

“You called me Milhouse, for a start.”

Yeah, well, he’d looked like Milhouse, Bart’s geeky friend on The Simpsons. Now he was a six-foot hottie in a designer suit. Who the hell could have seen that coming?

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