“Not even close?” I ask, raising a brow.

“Scarily accurate,” she finally says with a little laugh. “Only he’s touring Europe with his new girlfriend. Daddy’s uncomfortable with being on large bodies of water.”

“Ironic then that he chooses to live in Santa Barbara, considering it’s right by the ocean,” I say, grabbing my Coke and taking a big sip. It’s almost all gone and I want more. Wonder if they do refills.

“He likes the climate,” Lucy says.

“Ahh.” I study her, let my gaze rove over her glossy dark hair still in that messy, sexy bun, her big, brown eyes watching me in return. Her lips are full, cheekbones sharp and her nose might be considered a little too big. Not that it matters. I think she’s fucking beautiful. “Where’s Mom?”

“Farther south. Near Los Angeles.”

“Uh huh. And I was right that you’re an only child?”

She nods. “I always wanted siblings though.”

“What happened? Mama couldn’t stand the thought of having more brats to take care of?” I smile to offset the harshness of my comment. I don’t want to be mean but I know how some of these rich ladies are. They have one baby, freak out over how disgusting it is, how their bodies are altered forever and all that crap, and never have another. I’ve overheard enough stories straight out of my mom’s mouth to know it’s true.

“Mama wanted more babies too. It just…it was never in the cards for her.” Lucy sounds sad and I immediately want to change the subject. I don’t want to bring her down. Not tonight.

“How was your burger?” I wave my hand toward her burger basket, which is currently devoid of any burger and is still filled with leftover fries.

“Delicious,” she admits, sounding the slightest bit guilty. “I’m stuffed.”

“Really?” I grab a fry and pop it in my mouth, chewing on the salty goodness. “You ate that thing like you haven’t had a real meal in months.”

“More like weeks,” she admits. “I’m on a diet.”

I don’t get why. Really I don’t. I wasn’t lying when I told her I thought her body was banging. Granted, I’ve never uh, dated—is that what we’re doing? Dating?—a girl with a body like Lucy’s before but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. Because I do. I had my hands all over her last night and I didn’t even touch the good parts.

“Why are you on a diet?” I try to keep my voice bland but I hear the disbelief. Does she?

“I’m too curvy. I have a bit of stomach. Eating burgers and fries and drinking vanilla Cokes isn’t going to help my diet either.” She sounds sad again. Damn it. “But everyone’s allowed a day to cheat, right?”

“Sure.” I shrug. “Can I say something though?”

Amusement laces her tone. “Please don’t hold back on my account.”

I turn to face her, my gaze locked on hers. She stares back, all humor fading, her expression turning serious. She licks her lips, making them shine and I’m desperate to lean across the console and kiss her.

But I don’t.

“I dig the curves,” I admit, my voice low. “Sometimes a man wants something to hold onto, you know?”

She blinks. Slowly. “Okay,” she says, drawing the word out.

“Not a stick figure with boobs on it. It’s no fun, cuddling with a bag of bones,” I say.

More blinking. “Are you saying you want to cuddle with me?”

“Anything you’re game for, I’m on board,” I tell her. Cuddling. Kissing. Fucking. Yeah, I’m up for all of it.

“We’ve only just met,” she points out.

“We’re getting to know each other.”

“I don’t cuddle with a guy on the first date.” There’s that prim little voice again. I don’t believe it for a second. I think this girl could unleash on me if coaxed—and I’m real good at coaxing. I’d love to be the one who makes her fall apart.

“Technically this is our second date.”

Lucy rolls her eyes. “I don’t know if you’ve earned that second chance yet.”

I pretend to be taken aback. Hand on heart, the whole deal. “You’re not impressed with my choice dinner location?”

She shakes her head. “Not enough.”

“I need to do more?”

Her answer is a slow nod accompanied by a sly smile. “Definitely.”

“Challenge accepted.”

Game fucking on.

We drive around town, my mind scrambling to come up with something to impress her. I don’t know this city well enough. I haven’t been striking out much on my own, what with the way my parents have shit planned all the time. It doesn’t matter to them that I’m a twenty-one-year old adult. Every person they meet, every place they socialize, they believe is advantageous. To both them and me.

They have high hopes for me, my parents. They believe I’ll take over the family business. That I’ll meet a nice girl of their choosing and get married, merging two successful families and turning us into a dynasty.

It sounds like a fairy tale from hell yet they really think this way.

But fuck it. I ditched the family and I’m on my own tonight. Hopped in my car and I’m trying my damnedest to get this girl to give me another chance.

The idea strikes me while I aimlessly drive and we stop at a frozen yogurt shop. The dirty look Lucy shoots me as we get out of the car could slay just about anyone dead but I’m made of stronger stock. I’m not letting her get all pissed off because I keep trying to stuff her face.

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