I laugh. “Are you really sorry?” I find myself saying.
“No,” he clips. He really doesn’t sound sorry now. It’s hard to get a read on him with his one-word responses. His face flashes from stoic to a smirk in a flash. Well, Tank’s version of what he thinks a smirk is.
“You say more than one or two words at a time?” I give a smirk of my own when I glance over and up at him. I find myself relaxing around him. I don’t know why, but since it dawned on me that he was turned on by me, I feel more at ease. Maybe because I’m not the only one feeling something happening here. It isn’t something I’m used to. Based on Tank’s reactions, I can tell that he isn’t either. If I’m reading him right, that is.
“Sometimes.” This time I get a smile. I do a victory dance inside. I wonder how many people have actually gotten him to smile before now.
“Two syllables this time. Let’s not get crazy.” He lets out a bark of laughter so loud I feel it roll through his powerful body into mine. My body tingles in response. I’m feeling things I didn’t know I could.
“Why do they call you Tank?” I hurriedly ask, trying not only to refocus myself but my body, too.
“I hit like a tank,” he answers with a shrug.
“I’m shocked,” I deadpan, earning me another bark of laughter. I grab that laugh up, too, wanting more.
“What’s your real name?” I ask when we reach the diner. He opens the door for me but has to let go of me as he does so. I suddenly hate booths as the waiter leads us toward one.
“Not gonna happen.” Tank points to a table. My eyes go from him to the booth, putting together that he’s never going to fit. Again, that warmth floods me. Why is that turning me on, too?
“Sorry, Tank,” the man says and drops the menus down on the table for us. He glances to me then shakes his head before heading back to his station, leaving me confused.
“Don’t mind him. They’re used to me eating alone.” He supplies the answer to my unspoken question. I look back to Tank, who has moved a chair out for me.
“Thanks.” I slip into it. He takes the other. It’s not across from me but to my left, his back to the wall.
I study him. That relaxed feeling I had a moment ago fades. I’m not sure what to say next. Everything that comes to mind is super lame, or maybe it only sounds lame in my head. Luckily the waiter saves me by coming back to give us some water and take our order.
When he walks away, vague panic starts to rise again.
“Huh?” I reach for my water.
“My name,” he sighs, leaning back in his chair. I’m almost positive the chair lets out a groan. I don’t know if I should laugh about his name or the chair, so I just laugh. That name is ridiculous, boarding on excessive. It’s oddly fitting.
“I would have gone with Bear.” I shrug.
“Anything other than Theodore Tanksley works for me.”
“Is this one of those things you never tell people? Like other people are with their middle names?” I try to tease him.
“No one calls me that. They know better.”
“Fine, I won’t call you Theodore Tanksley.” I sing-song his name. It rolls off the tongue way easier than you’d think.
“I changed my mind. You can call me that,” he tosses back at me. His face is serious. It almost reminds me of the look Liv’s men get when they fold and give her something she’s asked for. Everyone knows they’d give that girl anything if they thought it would make her happy.
My heart flutters, and I swiftly bring my hand to my chest, surprised by the feelings. Tank’s eyes follow my hand. The waiter drops our food down before he can say something, and I immediately start shoveling food into my mouth. At least I can control that at the moment.
We fall into small talk as we both clear our plates. “I’m impressed,” he tells me as he eyes my now empty one.
“Don’t be. I didn’t order an appetizer.” I’m only half joking. I earn another one of those laughs that give me all the weird, new feelings.
Tank pulls out his wallet and grabs a credit card from it. “Check,” he tells Steve, whose name I’ve now learned during our meal.
“Wait.” I almost pop up from my seat as Steve takes off with Tank’s credit card.
“I got it,” he tries to reassure me.
“But we didn’t order dessert yet.” I can’t help the horror that enters my voice. This time Tank throws his head back and laughs.
That was way better than any dessert I’ve ever had.