“No problem,” she managed. “I didn’t realize there was anyone out here.”
“Clearly.” He grinned. “I mean, the whole allure of this area is the seclusion, right?” His smooth words combined with the slightest hint of a drawl sent an unexpected ripple of desire south of her belly.
“Right.” Maddie turned back to Bree, hoping to hide the heat that was rising in her cheeks. What was wrong with her? She never reacted this way to guys, let alone ones she’d just met. Perhaps the couple she’d witnessed making out had aroused her more than she’d realized.
“She’ll be fine.” The man mistook Maddie’s withdrawal as concern about her stripping friend. “She has plenty of people looking out for her.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” But this stranger had the right idea. It was no good worrying about Bree when she got herself in these situations. Maddie knew from experience the best course of action was to just wait it out. Bree would summon when she could no longer handle herself.
Maddie took a swig of her Corona and turned back to the piercing eyes. Despite the nearby striptease, his gaze was fixed directly on her. “She doesn’t seem to have captured your attention.”
The man shrugged. “I prefer private shows.”
An image of the kind of show Maddie could give him flashed through her mind. She quickly took another swallow of her beer, clearing her head of the inappropriate thoughts. Seriously, what had come over her?
The stranger tilted his head, as if trying to interpret her silence. “You’re welcome to sit.”
Her insides twisted at the thought of being close to him, wanting an accidental brush against his strong body. She dismissed her usual tendency to over-think and walked toward the stone seating. “You were looking to be alone—I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“I was looking for seclusion, not necessarily to be alone.”
His words possessed a teasing tone that made her shiver. She tensed as he looked her over, fully aware that he was checking her out. She’d been gifted with pretty brown eyes and nice features, and she took care of her figure, but she didn’t pay attention to whether or not she was attractive to men. This man seemed pleased, though, giving her a look that would usually turn her on her heels. She didn’t flirt with strangers—didn’t flirt much period—which was one of the reasons she avoided social gatherings such as this one.
But this man compelled her, his body drawing her like a magnet. He was so incredibly attractive, and hell, didn’t she deserve a little fun on her graduation night?
“I’ll take you up on the offer. To sit, I mean.”
“Ah, I hadn’t offered anything else.” He let out a slow breath. “Yet.”
Her heart raced at the implications as she sat beside him on the bench, closer than she imagined she’d ever dare. Her skirt rose as she crossed one long leg over the other and she fought the impulse to adjust it, feeling the intensity of his eyes on her thigh.
She flushed again under his gaze and she needed to calm the fire kindling between her legs. Seeing he held a Coors Light, she lifted her bottle in a toast. “To privacy.”
He smiled, his face lighting up as he did, causing another stir in Maddie’s nether parts. “To privacy.” He clinked her bottle then took a sip of his own. She watched as his mouth parted around the tip of the bottle and found herself imagining the feel of his full, firm lips, wondering what he’d taste like. Her tongue darted across her teeth at the thought.
“Tell me,” he said, setting his bottle down on the ground next to him. “What’s a hot, I mean, attractive woman like you doing at a party like this if you’re looking to be alone?”
Her heart raced at his shameless remark. “One could ask the same of you.”
“Yes, they could. It’s the question on everyone’s mind. But I asked first.”
“You aren’t full of yourself at all.”
He feigned seriousness. “No, not at all. If I was full of myself, we would be talking about me, but I’m trying to find out about you, so you should answer the question.”
Hot and charming. Delish.
“Well…” She wished she had some witty comeback. She settled on simply answering his question. “I was dragged here with Miss Bare-It-All over there.” She nodded toward Bree, who now only wore panties. “It’s supposed to be our graduation party.”
The man stiffened. “Graduation?”
She laughed. “From film school. Were you worried you were coming on to a teenager?”
He leaned back, distancing himself from Maddie. “Oh, you thought I was coming on to you?”
Crap! Had the teasing only been in her mind? She opened her mouth to speak, but she stuttered. “Uh…”
He chuckled. “Relax. I was totally coming on to you.”
She raised a brow. “Really? Or are you just keeping me from being completely humiliated?”
“No, I really was hitting on you. Come on, it was incredibly obvious.”
“Yes, it was. Are you still hitting on me now? Or has the moment passed?”
“Oh, no, the moment hasn’t passed.” He cocked his head and his eyes travelled down her body again, lingering at her low neckline. “So…film school,” he said after a heat-filled moment. “What’s your area of interest?”
“Uh, uh, uh.” Maddie barely kept herself from a fit of nervous giggles. “You never told me why you were here.”
“Okay, you really want to know? I was also dragged here. By some of the guys I work with.” He craned his neck, looking around the party. “I have no idea where they are. Nor would I tell you if I saw them because they might be more attractive than I am and I wouldn’t want to give myself unnecessary competition.”
Maddie let her own eyes explore his body. His casual white-and-black button-down shirt opened to mid-sternum and she could see serious pecs underneath. The bottom buttons also remained open and when he stretched his arms above his head—on purpose, no doubt—a patch of tight abs and a trail of hair peeked out. Yum, yum, and yum. “You don’t need to worry about competition.”
“Seriously? Then I’m doing okay?”
“You’re doing just fine.” She locked eyes with him, and thoughts of him na**d above her flashed through her mind. Blushing, she looked away.