“Why aren’t you dressed yet?” Rowan’s frustrated voice echoes through the hotel room as he pouts with his hands on his hips.
“I was just about to…” I try to explain as I stand in there in a towel. But he’s holding his hands up in front him like any excuse I have is going to be unacceptable. I sigh loudly and continue to pick up my new clothes from their spread formation on the bed. I opt for the new black jeans and midnight blue dress shirt.
I emerge from the bathroom and Rowan whistles. “That shirt makes your eyes pop.” He informs me approvingly. After my new boots are on and I reluctantly let Rowan apply a little product to my hair, we set off. We stop for dinner on the way to the bar. He can hardly sit still as he eats his burger, and I laugh at him. I feel like I’ve touched a live wire at the anticipation of seeing my goddess tonight.
When we reach the bar I notice the place is not as crowded as it was the other night. I let my eyes scan furiously for her, but they come up empty. I can see Rowan scanning the bar with his eyes just as thoroughly. He shrugs seeming to come up empty. “It’s still kind of early.” He offers reassuringly. We hit the bar and Rowan orders a couple of shots. We take them there, then I order a couple of beers.
He crooks his eyebrow up at me. I laugh at his disappointment as we find a table. “I don’t want to be half cut by the time she gets here.” I inform him of my noble intentions and he laughs. He pats me on the back sympathetically. “I have every intention of asking her to dance tonight, and if I can barely walk it’ll make that task difficult.” He smiles broadly at me as we take our seats.
“Difficult maybe, entertaining definitely.” He teases. We sit and drink for a while. Then he hauls me on to the dance floor insisting I need to practice. Our mama had taught us both how to dance when we were younger. Our father had disapproved vehemently until she explained to him that it would ensure our successful futures to find wives. I laugh at that thought now, especially when I watch Rowan tearing up the dance floor next to me.
We’re having a blast, while I may be a little rustier, and less graceful than my brother. I still remember all the moves. I pick up the line dances easily and after a couple of songs I find myself fully enjoying it. “Okay, so you’ve got the line dancing down.” Rowan says slightly out of breath. He hold his arms out to me in a dancing pose. “But how’s your partner skills?” He challenges. I smile wickedly at him.
After our few drinks have relaxed me I have no trouble taking my brother in my arms to start flinging him around the dance floor. He’s taken on the role of the lady and we start to swing to a fast paced song. Thankfully two men dancing together on the dance floor doesn’t stand out too much in this bar. He’s laughing as I turn him out and bring him back in. I spin him and twirl him and he has the grace to follow every lead.
I duck under an arm and move him around my back as we start taking it down the line. Our laughter is filling the dance floor. I grab his hands again and begin a quick pace of spins and twists. I bring him in abruptly taking hold of his back and flinging him down in a dip. He bounces back up as the song finishes. He’s beaming proudly at me. Cat calls and wolf whistles reach us from the edge of the dance floor.
I look around to see that people have been watching us dance. “We’re a hot attraction, the bar should really start paying us to show up.” He says leaning his elbow on my shoulder. I smile at him. I’m a little out of breath after my grueling dance refresher course.
“I need a drink.” I tell him. He nods in agreement and we leave the floor to head to the bar. I down a glass of water at the bar before ordering a large whisky on the rocks. We barely take our seats at the table before guy approaches Rowan and asks him for a dance.
“Sure.” He replies shooting me a wink and fleeing off towards the dance floor again. I shake my head ashamed of myself. I don’t know where that boy gets his energy. I watch my brother for a moment as I sip my drink, or consult with the family therapist as he calls it.
“So how was your bus trip?” A sweet voice asks close to my ear. I smile as I turn around and come face to face with my goddess. She’s standing next to my seat as she leans her arm on the table with her body turned towards me.
“Brutal.” I tell her with a sardonic smile. She drops her bottom lip and looks at me with mock sympathy.
“Well at least your brother is dealing with his guilt like a champ.” She teases as her eyes find my brother laughing and dancing in the middle of the floor with his new friend. I suddenly remember my manners and I jump up from my seat and offer it to my goddess. She smiles shyly for an instant before taking it.
I pull another chair from a nearby table and set it next to her. I jump up onto it and I’m about to ask her name when a voice disturbs me.
“Where’s your brother?” A deep male voice asks over my shoulder before making his way to my goddess’s side and handing her something I can’t see. I just point with my drink in hand towards the dancefloor. His eyes follow the direction I’m pointing and then they seem to flash with possessiveness. He looks back at us with a determined look.
“Well if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to cut in.” He says smoothly before planting a kiss on my goddess’s cheek and targeting the dance floor moving like a heat seeking missile. But I have to remember not to call him that. Rowan did tell me the guy’s actual name, I just can’t remember it.
“Oh no.” My goddess says ruefully. I look at her with concern. She turns and smiles a guilty looking smile at me. “As much as I love my friend there, he’s kind of a man eater.” I smile at her concern.
“Well as much as I love that brother of mine.” I trail off taking a sip of my drink. “He’s kind of a fool for man eaters.” I breathe out. “So there’s really nothing to be done.” I add defeated. She smiles and shrugs.
“Well if there’s nothing to be done.” She plays along. “Liquid courage?” She asks indicating to my drink in my hands.
“What? No this is a prescription from the family therapist.” I laugh using Rowan’s explanation. She laughs in response and her smile is brilliant.
“So is this.” She say in all seriousness as she places the bottle of tequila on the table between us. So much for my plans for relative sobriety tonight. I smile at her challenging eyes as her other hand pulls up four shot glasses. Well that will take off some of the pressure.
“You know I have been meaning to seek a second opinion. I don’t think my current therapist is really working out.” I smile wickedly at her.
“Well the doctor is in.” She announces as she starts to pour the shots. We take one together and the burn is smooth compared to the whisky. She starts to refill the shots as Rowan and the missile rejoin the table. We all take our shots and I laugh as Rowan splutters a little.
“Look if we’re doing this, we’re going to do it up right.” Rowan states with authority. “Damien, will you give me a hand?” He asks pulling the missile with him towards the bar. Damien, that’s his name. I catch a glimpse of Rowan’s dangerous mischievous smile before they disappear and I swallow hard.
“Should I be worried?” her voice asks from beside me. I turn back and see her smile, then all worry melts away. I shake my head.
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from my brother.” I tell her proudly. She leans a bit closer to me.
“Then who’ll protect me from you?” She whispers seductively into my ear and my whole body shivers at her voice. She leans back giving me an innocent look that is in complete contrast from the vixen that just said those words. I smile warily at her and she laughs at me. Just then the boys have returned, bearing a bowl of sliced lemon wedges and a couple of salt shakers. I shoot my brother an evil look which he returns equally.
We all take another shot after dosing our hands with salt. Then I bite into the lemon afterwards. The taste is like a memory of college. Rowan starts whispering and laughing in Damien’s ear on the other side of the table.
“So?” Her voice asks from beside me. I turn to smile at her.
“So?” I counter equally vague. She laughs.
“Did you sustain any injuries from the bus trip?” She enquires thoughtfully. I shake my head laughing.
“Not physical ones.” I inform her confidently. She bites her bottom lip to suppress her smile. My dear God that’s hot.
“So you can dance?” She challenges me. I narrow my eyes at her as I back my chair out. I move around to stand by her side. I hold my hand out towards her expectantly. She takes it feigning shock at being asked to dance. I laugh as we make our way to the dance floor. She’s a fire cracker, smart as a whip.
Then it happens, we reach the middle of the dance floor and the song fades to a slow country ballad. Awkward. She laughs beside me still holding on to my hand. “Don’t you hate that?” She says standing directly in front of me as she takes my hand that she’s holding and sits it on her hip. She leaves it there as her hand now grabs onto my shirt at my ribs.
“Hate what?” I ask coyly. She crooks her eyebrow up at me as she takes my other hand and moves it around to the back of her shoulder blade. Her hand slides up that arm of mine and her hand rests on my shoulder.
“When the music changes like that, making what was supposed to be a fast fun dance a little more awkward.” She tells me as she steps a little closer to me. I nod at her with a smile. “Well I figure we should just fight the man. Show it we’re not ones to back down from a challenge, that way all our awkwardness will be gone as well.” Her suggestion is logical. I smile as I start to move with her in my arms.
It may be slower than I originally planned, but it’s far from awkward now. Her smiling face and lit up eyes staring up at me as my hands gently but firmly hold their place, pulling her around the floor. I look down at her in awe as I take in her appearance fully. Her stunning legs are trailing out beneath a white sundress that flips out mid-thigh. Her signature dark brown leather and turquoise boots. She has a beaded turquoise belt accentuating her small waist. Her hair is swaying across her back and shoulders and over my hand on her back.
She has a long silver chain with a silver and turquoise pendant. Her skin is glowing beneath the lights on the dance floor. But her smile still knocks me for a loop every time she directs is at me. We’re moving so fluidly, I never knew I could move like this. Then I realize it’s her, my body is just responding to hers. The fluid graceful movement of her hips underneath my hand, the gentle brush of her leg as it travels between mine.
Her eyes suddenly close as her smile sits content on her face as we dance. My chest swells as I breathe her in. She smells like peaches, roses, and tequila. There’s also a small trace of gasoline that is incredibly sexy. I remember her motorbike and then I have to shut the thought down immediately. I start thinking of non-sexy things. Church, bingo, sewage plants. My head falls back desperately searching the roof for help.
I let my head fall back down and her eyes are open and she’s studying me curiously with a smile playing seductively on her lips. She’s absolutely no help.
“So you’re a soldier huh?” She asks suddenly and her question provides me the distraction I need.
“How did you?” I trail off trying to remember if Rowan had mentioned it.
“You’re posture, it’s clear you’ve been in the military at some point.” I smile at her proudly.
“Perceptive little thing aren’t you.” I tease her wanting to keep our conversation light. She shrugs.
“My daddy was in the army as a mechanic. He was drafted and sent to Vietnam when he was eighteen” She informs me. I think about the horrors I faced for a split second, I couldn’t imagine seeing those when I was still a kid.
“I’m sorry.” I tell her seriously. She looks taken aback by my response.
“Only someone who’s seen war would say that.” She informs me. I nod
“I just got back from a two year rotation in Iraq. I’ve been over there for five years.” I tell her as we continue dancing. Her hand comes up to caress my cheek.
“Do you have to go back?” She asks me with concern in her eyes. I shake my head and smile at her reassuringly.
“No, I opted for my discharge at the end of my last tour.” She smiles at me as her hand resumes its place on my shoulder. The song begins to fade and I’m grateful, hoping for a fast song to turn around our suddenly ominous mood. Then another slow ballad starts up and I let out a deep breath and start laughing.
“It appears us standing up to the man, didn’t send the message we hoped for.” I tell her with a smile.
“It would appear we have a saboteur in our camp.” She informs me lifting her chin to the other side of the room. I follow her gaze in time to see Rowan laughing and ducking away from the D.J. stand. I let out a frustrated sigh.
“If you’ll excuse me I’m about to go a make myself an only child.” I tell her letting my hands fall from her. I barely make it a step before her arm has caught mine. I look back at her and her face is pure seduction. I turn back to face her completely and I put my hands back on her body. I let my left hand settle firmly on her right hip. My right hand cups her left shoulder blade. I try not to let my rough hands scrape against her bare skin. Her dress is cut low at the back leaving my hand with full contact to her bare skin.
She lets the hand that was on my inside shoulder wind up to the back of my neck. Her other hand is splayed out around my ribs as her body presses closer to mine. She’s so close to me I can feel her chest rise and fall against mine. I start to move us a little in simple rotating box steps. I don’t want to do anything that would break my hold on her. The song is a heart broken country ballad and we dance and just breathe.
“You can never show weakness to your enemies.” She informs me with a wink as she slides as glance back to the table where Rowan in now sitting innocently watching us. There are a few other couples on the floor but I barely notice them as I try to remember the physical act of breathing.
“You’re very wise.” I congratulate her letting my hold on her tighten ever so slightly. She smiles up at me.
“Like I said, my daddy was in the army. I also have two older brothers.” She says by way of explanation.
“Are they both in the army as well?” I ask annoyed at myself for pursuing such a deep subject. She shakes her head at me.
“No Daddy forbid them from joining the army. The oldest, Michael he became a cop. I suppose that’s the closest he could get. The other David, he teaches the third grade.” She tells me laughing at the fond memory of her brothers.
“And what about you?” I ask then mentally smack my forehead.
“You mean besides waitressing?” She says with a playful smile. I nod and her playful smile turns a touch angry. “What makes you think I do anything bedsides waitressing? It’s honest work for crap pay.” She says rather indignantly. I’m mortified for offending her.
“I’m sorry, I meant no offense.” I apologize quickly. She shakes her head as her smile returns.
“No I’m sorry. I’m a little closed off. Sometimes when I start opening up to people I go on the offensive as a way to protect myself.” She explains sadly.
“I really didn’t mean anything by it.” I plead apologetically to her again.
“It’s really not you.” She promises me. Then she sighs. “Actually I’m part of a small dance troupe. We rehearse at a studio not far from here. We get gigs at concerts and different shows.” She trails off seeming to not want to divulge too much information. I knew from the first moment I laid eyes on her that she was a dancer. I smile at her gratefully. She has been opening up to me, which is clearly something she isn’t comfortable doing. She exhales in relief as we continue dancing.
“Finally.” I breathe as the ballad fades into a fast paced country song. She looks up at me warily as I give her a wicked grin. Then as fast as a shot I spin her around and out to the side of my body. We move like we were made to dance together. She follows every lead easily, and I take full control and pull out all the moves. She’s laughing as we dance and I smile widely at her.
“You know,” I call out to her as I move her around fast. “There’s still one thing you haven’t told me about yourself.” She laughs as I try to talk during this dance.
“And what’s that?” She asks as I pull her back towards me and start to swing.
“Your name.” I tell her before spinning her away from me again. She bursts out laughing as I prepare for my next move, as she spins back into me I lean down scooping her waist with my arm supporting her with my other arm I flip her body over mine catching her before she hits the floor again, letting her down gently.
Her squeal of excitement attracts every pair of eyes in the room that weren’t already on us. She spins a few more times and I decide to flip her again, this time she’s ready for it and she lands on the other side of me laughing. As the music starts to die I pull her back to me and dip her low as a final move. As I hold her down there refusing to bring her back up.
“So?” I prompt her. She narrows her eyes back at me as I hold her body parallel to the floor.
“So?” She shoots back defiantly. I laugh at her playfulness.
“You’re a pistol aren’t you?” I admonish bringing her back upright. She smiles proudly.
“Too hot for you to handle?” She challenges in a seductive whisper. Oh this woman is going to be my complete undoing. I laugh at her challenge with mock indignation.
“I don’t know about that.” I inform her matter-of-factly. “I ranked top of my class in weapons handling.” Her playful laugh is contagious as we make our way off the floor towards our table. She lets me hold her hand as we walk back to our table together. As we almost reach it I give in.
“Are you really not going to tell me your name?” She turns on me and steps close to my ear.
“I think I’m going to make you work for it.” She whispers that seductive whisper in my ear. I look at her like the goddess that she is. I shake my head in defeat as we continue walking towards the table. Like a gentleman I hold out her chair for her and she smiles at me as she takes a seat. I can see Damien watching her intently and I can feel Rowan’s eyes on me but I ignore him. Damien pours another round of shots as he does my goddess leans close to whisper something in his ear. He smiles wickedly as his eyes glance to me for an instant before he nods and continues pouring.
We take our shots and I snatch a lemon wedge from Rowan’s hand as he holds it out to me. I reach over and slap him upside the head.
“Ow. What was that for?” He demands.
“You know damn well what, asshole.” I shoot at him letting my eyes look towards my goddess for a split second. Rowan’s face breaks out into his signature shit eating grin as he rubs the side of his head.
“It’s my favorite song,” He lies then shrugs. “Besides it didn’t look like either of you minded too much.” He adds wiggling his eyebrows. I look at my goddess who is biting her lip and her cheeks are stained with that luscious pink tinge from her embarrassed blush. I shoot Rowan a warning look as he puts his hands up in surrender. He slams his empty shot glass down on the table as he jumps up from his seat.
“Come on doll face, I’ll show the real talent in this family.” Rowan says as he grabs my goddess by the arm and leads her to the dance floor. I laugh at him as they walk away. Rowan begins dancing with her in a graceful ease.
“I can tell you like her.” Damien’s voice says. I turn back to face him seriously. I nod. There’s no point in denying it. “Well you best not hurt her. Because if you do I’ll have to take you down.” He says in a dark menacing voice. I can tell he’s deadly serious.
“I have no intention of hurting her.” I inform him certainly. He seems to be searching my face for a moment then seems satisfied that I’m not lying.
“Good.” He states curtly. “And just so you know, she’s not as tough as she plays up.” He informs me and I’m touched at the love and concern in his voice. I look at him curiously wondering what he means exactly. “You’re best to think of her like a Faberge egg. Exquisitely beautiful and well built, but extremely fragile to the touch.” He says and his eyes seem saddened by a memory suddenly. I don’t want to pry, but I’m suddenly suppressing the urge to beat information out of him about my goddess.
“I’ll treat her like the lady she is.” I tell him in my most honor filled voice. He nods curtly.
“Aren’t you going to warn me not to hurt your brother?” He asks with a crooked eyebrow. I’m glad to see his tone has shifted to a less serious one. I shrug.
“He can handle himself, but I’ll always have his back.” I state clearly announcing the hidden intention to break his legs if he hurts my little brother. He smiles a wicked half smile back at me in complete understanding.
“I’m glad we had this little chat, Link.” He says before leaving the table and heading towards the dance floor.
“Hey.” I call out to him and he turns back to face me. “What’s her name?” I ask hopefully and he laughs at me tapping his finger to the side of his nose before walking away. Damn it. She told him not to tell me. I watch on as the three of them line dance together, laughing and turning around. I let my mind wander to what Damien meant about my pistol of a goddess being more fragile then she lets on. After the song finishes Rowan comes bouncing back over to join me at the table. Then the others join us after then next song.