Damon’s phone rings and I start to slip my hand away but his elbow squashes my forearm to his side, pinning me. In an awkward movement, he fishes his cell out of his back pocket with the opposite hand and checks the number.
“I have to take this, sorry.”
“Sure.” His death grip on my arm isn’t loosening, so I have to stand there holding him while he finishes his conversation and hangs up.
“That was my recruiter. I’m in the Reserves and he was giving me an update.”
Well, that’s really no surprise, with those arms. “Army?”
If he keeps going, I’m going to be a puddle at his feet.
“How old are you?”
He chuckles. “I’m thirty-six, but I originally enlisted right out of high school. I got out for a couple of years and decided to go back in a limited capacity so I could finish school.”
We reached the front of the bar sooner than I like. This date was supposed to be the end. My ticket to getting him to leave me alone, and now I don’t want it to be over. When he relinquishes my arm, it feels cold, bereft. This was not supposed to happen!
“I guess I should get back to work.” But my feet feel like they belong to someone else. They’re certainly not obeying my commands to walk away. Did I step in gum or something?
“I guess I should let you.”
He lifts my chin with one finger and we stare, silently, as people shuffle past us on their lunch breaks. The backs of his knuckles brush my temple, and he tucks an errant lock of hair behind my ear.
It’s been so long since I’ve dated, since anyone has looked at me like this. The fact that I pegged him as a Casanova doesn’t seem to compute now. Sure, he’s charming and is probably after only one thing, but when his fingers caress me in such a gentle way, when his lips part just a fingers’ width, I realize I want that one thing, too. Lust, pure and simple. How hard can it be to keep emotion out of it?
Raising to my tip-toes, I lean forward with the decision made in my mind.
His lips are soft and uncertain, and taste of lemon from his iced tea. I run my tongue over them, savoring the tart flavor, and his arm snakes around my back to pull me closer. In fact, my body is now molded to his. And it feels heavenly.
Creeping my hands up and around his neck, he groans quietly and his kiss moves from tentative to possessive. Sparks shoot through my body, and arousal floods my belly and limbs. My aching feet are forgotten. The people on the street are ignored. Sounds of the city become white noise. I don’t remember ever wanting anyone so much.
“Ow.” He pulls back, but keeps his forehead on mine. Reaching behind him, he removes my fingers from his neck. Belatedly, I realize I’d dug my nails in.
“Sorry.” And we’ve come full circle, back to mortification. It’s amazing that he’s made me relax as long as I have.
“I don’t mind a little pain, now and then,” he says, and I can hear the smile in his voice. He takes my hand and examines it. “But we might need to trim these first.”
Leaning down, he kisses my palm—soft and brief—and heat rushes through my blood.
“Can I see you again?”
My newly awakened libido quashes the small voice full of misgivings. “Sure.”
I lick my lips—a nervous gesture—and force my gaze up to his face. He’s watching my mouth, and his grip tightens like he doesn’t want to let me leave. For some ridiculous, girlish reason, the expression on his face fills me with joy. But I can’t show it. I have to remember to act mature. Easier said than done.
We exchange numbers and he throws me one more dazzling smile before he turns to walk away. I lean against the doorjamb, partly because my feet have started hurting again, and partly because I don’t know if my legs are strong enough to carry me up the stairs yet. Unbidden, the tune of Bring Me To Life runs through my head and I smirk.
Time to get back to real life. First things first. The shoes have got. To. Go. One foot up, I unbuckle the clasp while balancing on the other. The sidewalk is warm under my bare foot, but my arches are thanking me. It’s like a spa for my feet, one of those hot rock massage things. I don’t actually know what they feel like, because I’ve never been able to go get one. But I imagine this is pretty close.
Pulling myself up my stairs to my apartment, the memory of my last boyfriend flashes. More specifically, the memory of the last time I saw my last boyfriend. It was in my first loft, a few years before I bought the bar. He was handsome, and charming, much like Casano—Damon. And he had a way with women that made them clamor for his attention. Also like Damon. So much so that he managed to keep screwing my roommate for months before I walked in on them.
On the floor in our kitchen.
His excuse had been that I was never there. Never around when he wanted me. And Teresa was.
“Of course she is! Her daddy pays for everything so she doesn’t have to work.” I couldn’t stop the vitriol from spilling over to encompass her, too. She certainly wasn’t an innocent party in that mess.
Good riddance. Shaking off the images, I unlock the door to my home trying not to compare the two men. No sense in seeing problems that aren’t there yet. Besides, I’m only in it for the sex.