Then there were the men that were anything but safe. They weren’t f**k and forget—they were, “Oh, f**k!” They drew me to them so intensely that I became consumed by them, absolutely focused on everything they did, said and were. I ran from these men, far and fast.
Two seconds after locking eyes with this man, I knew I should be running.
He seemed familiar—he must have been in the club before. But if he had been, I couldn’t imagine that I’d have forgotten. He was the most breathtaking man on the planet—his chiseled cheekbones and strong jaw sat beneath perfectly floppy brown hair and the most intense gray eyes I’d ever seen. His five o’clock shadow made my skin itch, yearning to feel the burn of it against my face—against my inner thighs. From what I could see, his expensive three-piece navy suit was fitted and of excellent taste. And his smell—a distinct fragrance of unscented soap and aftershave and pure male goodness—nearly had me sniffing at the air in front of him like a dog in heat.
But it wasn’t just his incomparable beauty and exquisite display of male sex that had me burning between my legs and searching for the nearest exit. It was how he looked at me, in a way that no man had ever looked at me, a hungry possessiveness present in his stare as if he not only had undressed me in his mind, but had claimed me to be sated by no one ever again except him.
I wanted him instantly, a prickle of fixation taking root in my belly—an old familiar feeling. But that I desired him didn’t matter. The expression on his face said that he would have me whether I wanted it or not, that it was as inevitable as if it had already happened.
It scared the hell out of me. The hair on my skin stood up as witness to my fear.
Or perhaps it rose in delight.
“Single-malt Scotch. Neat, please.”
I’d almost forgotten I was supposed to be serving him. And the idea of serving him seemed so sexy, that when he reminded me of my job, I nearly fell over myself to get his drink. “I have a 12-year-old Macallan.”
“Fine.” It was all he said, but the delivery in his low thick voice had my pulse fluttering.
As I handed him his Scotch, his fingers brushed mine and I shivered. Visibly. His eyebrows rose ever so slightly at my reaction, as if he were pleased.
I jerked my hand back, tucking it against the bodice of my sheath dress as if the fabric could erase the warmth that had already traveled from where he’d touched me to the needy core between my legs.
I never brushed fingers with customers—why had I done that?
Because I couldn’t not touch him. I was so drawn to him, so eager for something I couldn’t name that I’d take whatever contact I could get.
Not this again. Not now.
I moved away from him. Far and fast. Well, as far as I could get, curling into the opposite corner of the bar. David could serve the guy if he wanted anything else. I needed to be nowhere near him.
And then, as if on cue in the bad luck life I led, Sasha returned. “David, that group in Bubble Five is harassing the waitress again.”
“On it.” He turned to me. “You can handle it for a minute?”
“I so got this.” I so didn’t have it. Not with Mr. Draw-Laynie-To-Me-Whatever-The-Cost-To-Her-Sanity sitting at the end of the bar.
But my declaration was convincing. David slipped out from behind the counter, leaving me alone with the suit. Even Regular and his friends had joined a group of giggly girls at a nearby table. I scanned the dance floor hoping I could attract customers by glaring at the sea of faces. I needed drink orders. Otherwise, Suit might think I was avoiding him by hiding in my corner, which, of course, I was. But, honestly, the distance between us did nothing to dim the tight ball of desire rolling around in my stomach. It was pointless avoidance.
I sighed and wiped down the counter in front of me, though it didn’t seem to need it, just to keep myself occupied. When I braved a glance over at the hottie who had invaded my space, I noticed his Scotch was nearing empty.
I also noticed his eyes pinned on me. His penetrating gaze felt more than the typical stare of a customer trying to attract the bartender, but knowing I had a tendency to exaggerate the meanings of other people’s actions, I dismissed the idea. Summoning my courage, I forced myself over to check on him.
Who am I kidding? No forcing was necessary. I glided to him as if he were pulling me with an invisible rope. “Another?”
“No, I’m good.” He handed me a hundred. Of course. I’d been hoping he’d give me a credit card so I could glean his name.
No, no, I was not hoping for that. I did not care for his name. Nor did I notice that his left hand was absent of any ring. Or that he was still watching my every move as I took the cash he’d given me and rung his order into the register.
“Special occasion?” he asked.
I furrowed my brow then remembered he’d seen our toast. “Uh, yeah. My graduation. I walk tomorrow for my MBA.”
His face lit up in honest admiration. “Congratulations. Here’s to your every success.” He raised his drink toward me and downed the final swallow.
“Thank you.” I was transfixed on his mouth, his tongue darting out to clean the last drop of liquid off his lips. Yum.
When he set his glass down, I reached out my hand to give him his change, bracing myself for the thrill of contact that would inevitably happen when he took it from me.
But the contact never came. “Keep it.”
“I can’t.” He’d given me a hundred. For one glass of Scotch. I couldn’t take that.
“You can and you will.” His commanding tone should have rankled me, but instead it got my juices flowing. “Consider it a graduation gift.”
“Okay.” His demeanor took away my will to argue. “Thanks.” I turned to stuff the money into my tip jar on the back counter, pissed at myself for the effect this stranger had on me.
“Is this also a goodbye party?” His voice called from behind me, drawing me back to face him. “I don’t imagine you’ll be using your MBA to continue bartending.”
Of course that’s what a suit would assume. He was probably some business type that shared the opinion of my brother—there were jobs worth having and jobs for other people. Bartending was the latter.
But I loved bartending. More, I loved the club. I’d only started my graduate work because I needed more to do. Something to keep me “occupied” was what Brian had said when he offered to pay for my expenses beyond what my scholarship and financial aid covered.