She breathed a sigh of relief as she took a seat at an open table near the back of the coffee shop. It had a clear view of the door so she could spot her date when he entered. That would give her a chance to take off the red scarf she’d worn so he could pick her out of the crowd.
Guilt gripped her briefly while she considered how quickly she could remove it but that emotion disappeared as she remembered of all the horrible first dates she’d endured over the last few months. This would be her last foray into the dating pool for a while.
She’d come to that conclusion after the previous week’s episode of lonely losers looking for low hanging fruit. The guy had barely been able to hold a conversation together. In fact, most of their brief time together had consisted of her trying to dodge questions about what she enjoyed in the bedroom and steering the conversation back to more mundane get to know you questions. If she hadn’t already agreed to meet Jared, the man she was waiting for in the coffee shop that night, she would have closed down her account and disappeared on all the men she’d been in communication with.
The bell above the door rang out sharply, yanking her out of her thoughts, a breath she had been holding escaped softly. The newcomer couldn’t possibly be Jared. He was a far cry from the short pudgy nitwits she seemed to attract with ease.
Her body immediately reacted to the sight of his profile, with a tingling ache settled in her center. She pressed her thighs together in a feeble attempt to alleviate it. Her heart thumped hard and a flush crept up her chest. Clearly her body felt it had been far too long since she’d been under a man.
If she had to choose a word to describe him it would have been potent. Perhaps it was his height, the man who entered behind him could barely see over his shoulder, but he seemed to command attention.
Not for the first time in her life she wished she’d been a little more diligent at the gym and that she’d been a smidge more blessed in the genetics department. She shook her head slightly, all she had to offer was a slightly curved frame thanks to her unintentional post divorce diet. Months of berating herself for her ex’s betrayal had the unexpected side effect of melting away a few of the pounds she hadn’t been able to get rid of during years of focusing on her husband’s every need.
Her eyes swept over him again. Men like that weren’t interested in women like her. A little taller than average, a little better looking than average, smart, and funny. No, he was probably meeting some insanely beautiful, blonde, model type with boobs that defied gravity.
The bell rang out again and she pulled her gaze away from the handsome customer ordering his drink to the short balding guy that had just entered. She ducked her head quickly and pulled the scarf from around her neck to stuff it into her jacket pocket. Her heart sunk as she spotted the newest arrival’s blue pocket square. Jared was supposed to have one like that. She smiled slightly, at least she’d managed to get the scarf off before he noticed her.
The man at the table next to her started packing up his laptop, drawing her attention away from the counter for a moment. She watched him with detached interest. He was young, probably in college, an athlete judging by his delightfully muscled arms and oh so lovely tight glutes that were showcased in well fitted jeans.
She took a sip of her latte to cover her smile as that wonderfully shaped derriere swayed into her space for a moment. He straightened quickly and turned to look over his shoulder. “Sorry,” he murmured with a sheepish grin.
She swallowed a sigh. “No problem.”
He was gorgeous, with a mop of thick curly brown hair, full kissable lips, and big brown eyes that a college girl could get lost in for days behind his glasses. Briefly, she desperately wished she could find the courage to be a cougar. A weekend wrapped up in someone like him could be just what she needed to get her past her post divorce funk.
“Have a good night,” he said with a smile and then slung his backpack over his shoulder.
“You too,” she answered softly. Her gaze followed him as he exited the shop. Her cheeks went hot with a blush when he smiled at her through the window running along the front of the shop. She looked down at the cup in her hands, wondering if he frequented that shop often. It could be worth it to go out of her way a few times a week if it meant being able to see that smile.
Her pondering was interrupted as the tall handsome customer took a seat at the table the college student had vacated. She didn’t bother looking over at him, instead she scanned the room to see where the balding guy had gotten to during her brief encounter with the young man.
He had found a seat close to the window, four tables away from hers. She watched as he checked his watch and then looked around. Her butt slid down the seat of her chair. She grabbed her phone off the table and feigned an interest in the dark screen as she peeked at him through lowered lashes.
“How long am I supposed to wait?” she mumbled.
“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.” She blinked then turned her head to the speaker. The handsome man had leaned over and spoken the words softly. “What did you say?” Between the slight curve of a smile on his lips, one that promised a more dazzling display for the lucky person who’d earned it, and the timber of his voice she was shocked to find herself still in her seat.
Her lips twitched in an attempt at a smile. “I was just asking myself a question.”
“I’m really curious. What was the question?”
“It’s silly.” She shook her head.
“Well now I have to know.” His smile almost knocked her flat.
She swallowed, her mouth suddenly bone dry. He waited, his eyes gleaming with laughter. “How long should I wait,” she answered breathlessly.
Lines around his eyes crinkled into existence as his head tilted. “For what?”
She snatched her latte off the table and took a hasty sip. “I think the person I’m supposed to meet is sitting over there and I’ve decided I don’t want to meet him anymore.” She set her cup down carefully. “I know it’s cowardly but I just want to get out of here before he figures out who I am.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Online date?” She nodded. “I get where you’re coming from.”
Her eyebrows came together. “How could you possibly understand?”
“Well.” He glanced around the room. “I think I’ve been stood up yet again.” He looked at her. “At least the coffee here is good.” His shoulders lifted in a little shrug.
“Stood up?” She gaped at him. “Wait.” She leaned closer and her voice dropped. “Are you here on an online date too?”
“Is it really that hard to believe?” The disappointed look that clouded his grey eyes gripped her heart for a moment.
“In a word? Uh yes,” she murmured.
“I had high hopes for this one too. We seemed to have such a great connection.” He looked down at his coffee mug. “She makes me laugh.” He looked at her. “I don’t find that often in my world.”
“Your world?” she asked softly.
“I’m in investment banking.” She blinked. Her date was in finance. Her eyes narrowed slightly.
No, it couldn’t be.
Her hopeful brain refused to let go inspite of her admonishments. For a split second she imagined what it would be like to have him over her, naked, and wanting her. She gave her head a little shake.
“Why on earth is someone like you involved in online dating? Do you not own a mirror?” she asked with a nervous laugh.
“Have you considered that might be the problem?” Her eyebrows shot up and her mouth shut. “I’m surrounded by beautiful airheads whose only interest in me is my pretty face and the pretty things I can buy them.” She looked down at her latte and turned the cup in her hands slowly. “I thought if a woman could get to know me without seeing this—” He gestured at his face. “I might be able to find someone who’s interested in more than my looks.”
“And they keep getting scared off when you try to meet them?” The urge to reach out and comfort him almost won out but she forced her hands to remain on the cup in front of her.
He nodded then took another look around. “I suppose I should have known this would happen again. It’s the third time in the last six months. But I really liked her.” He turned back to her and reached out his hand. “I’m Eric.”
“It’s nice to meet you Eric.” She took his hand and tried to ignore how her body sprung to full overwhelming attention at his touch. Her focus was mercifully pulled away from him as the balding man got up from his table and made his way to the exit. Eric felt the tension in her arm relax and looked over at the man.
“Is that the guy?” he asked gently.
“I think so.” She gave him a lopsided smile. “I really do feel bad. He seemed so nice and I thought we had a really good connection…”
“I just can’t imagine being excited by someone like that.” She turned her gaze to Eric. “That’s so shallow but there needs to be an attraction right?” As she was speaking she was acutely aware of the little sparks dancing up her arm as he continued to hold her hand.
It was taking everything she had to not yank her hand away and hide it behind her back. The kind of charisma he was packing should have been illegal. “You’re right,” he said softly as he shifted in his chair, turning his legs toward her. She couldn’t breath, couldn’t move, could only watch, completely dumbfounded as he turned her hand palm up and his fingers stole under the edge of her jacket sleeve and traced along her wrist. “Do you feel that too?” His voice barely penetrated her aroused brain.
She nodded slightly. “You’re a dangerous man.”
“How so?” he asked with a little smile.
“I think it would be very hard to say no to you.” His smile grew as he traced her palm with his fingertip. “Jesus.” She stood suddenly, turned her hand back and shook his quickly. “It was nice meeting you.” She dropped his hand, grabbed her purse from the table, and tossed her phone into it. “And I hope you have better luck next time.”
“Wait.” He reached out to catch her hand. She pulled it out of his reach.
“I should go.” She took a step toward the door then turned back to him for one last look. Even the surprise in his eyes made her want to rip her clothes off and offer herself up to him. She turned and almost ran out of the shop. “He should not be allowed out in the general population with us mortals,” she muttered as she hurried down the sidewalk. She managed to get half way down the block before he caught up to her.
“Wait!” He called after her. “Jess!” She skidded to a stop and turned.
“How do you know my name?” She stumbled back as he reached her.
“I’m Jared,” he said quickly.
Her eyes went wide. “You said your name is Eric.”
“It is but I use Jared online.” He stepped closer. She backed up another step. “Jess, don’t go.”
“How did you know who I was?”
“I saw the scarf sticking out of your pocket right before you ran out.”
“I didn’t run.” She slid her hand along the side of her jacket, her lips pressed together as her fingers grazed the silky fabric of the scarf.
“Pretty close,” he said with chuckle.
She sighed. “I stood you up.”
“Sort of.” He grinned and moved closer. “It was lucky that the only available table was right next to you.”
“I guess.” His hands brushed hers then took hold of them and pulled her closer. The overpowering heat that had started between them in the coffee shop sprang back to life. Full and gloriously overwhelming fire. Within seconds she was dangerously close to melting into him.
“Give me a chance.” His head dipped and his lips brushed her cheek. Her knees threatened to buckle. “Just one night.” Her eyes narrowed. There it was, the catch. He wanted to take her somewhere, use her, and then that would be the end of it.
“Dammit.” She sighed heavily. “You’re just like the rest of them.”
He looked into her disappointed eyes. “No, I’m not. But I’m not above using a night of incredible sex to convince you to give me a shot.”
“Oh really.” She started to laugh but it caught in her throat. “This has got to be some kind of joke.”
“It has to be. Did my ex put you up to this?” She frowned. “Is he trying to prove some kind of point?
“I don’t know him.” His hands released hers and he reached up to cradle her face. “Come home with me,” he murmured.
“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to say yes,” she whispered.
He smiled slightly. “I’m not crazy.” He leaned closer to gaze her lips with his own. The muscles in her legs tightened, urging her to push herself closer to that enticing sensation. Her hands rose up and reached for his waist. He sucked in a breath as her little hands slid around him to his back.
The heat of his body made it impossible to think clearly. It had been so long since she’d really thrown caution to the wind and if she was going to choose anyone to be reckless with why not the devastatingly handsome stranger who was eagerly trying to seduce her? When would she have that kind of opportunity again?
His lips brushed hers again. Her knees wobbled. “You know me,” he said softly.
“You lied to me,” she whispered as her hands gripped his shirt.
“Only my name.” He kissed her gently. She swayed towards him, her hands flattened against his back. “Everything else was true,” he said as he lifted his head.
Her eyes opened slowly and she took a deep breath. “One night.”
His thumbs brushed her jaw gently. “My place isn’t far.”