I shook my head.
“What?” he asked.
“Don’t apologize. I need to practice knowing someone sees me. Hard to explain, but I freak out when I play in public and haven’t played on stage in a while.”
“I’m sorry,” he said as he considered me. “That must be very hard. It’s brave for you to tell me.”
I swallowed at the butterflies that had taken up in my belly. “Yeah, I’m not a beauty queen or a genius or an athlete, but violin was the one thing I excelled at.”
“I might have to disagree on the beauty part, but regardless, I’m glad to be part of your comeback.” He eased up closer and I felt his eyes on me as I tasted the sample the shop girl handed me. I shifted, moving a step back. Distance. I needed it.
He rubbed the back of his neck, a torn expression on his face. “I’m actually here to meet someone, but I’ve got ten minutes before she shows. You wanna hang till then? I’d love to hear more about how you got started on the violin.”
She? He had a date coming?
“Can I help you with a sample?” Counter Girl breathed at him as she came to life and tittered behind the counter like a teenage groupie. Figures. All it takes is a muscular chest to get all the free samples you want.
He ignored her, his ice-blue eyes on me. “Well?”
“Er, I’m actually in a hurry”—total lie—“and …” I petered out as he suddenly grinned. “What?”
“You really have no idea who I am, do you?” he said softly as he leaned in my space and whispered in my ear.
My breath hitched at the swirl of air his voice created on my neck. “No. Should I? Want to fill me in?”
“Nah, I like this. No expectations. No questions.”
I eyed him. “You’ve piqued my interest. Should I bow down?”
This time he laughed loud, the sound echoing through the tiny shop, causing more than a few pairs of female eyes to linger on him. Male, too.
He slipped on some aviators, adjusted his cap lower and shot me a cocky grin. “I’m just a simple, hot guy out for ice cream. Just like everyone else.”
I laughed as he turned to the counter girl, who was currently ogling his well-developed ass. He acted like he didn’t notice, ordered our ice cream, and then handed me a jumbo bowl of Double Mocha Fudge.
I took it from him with glee, taking a big bite with the plastic spoon. “I’m not sure If I should be flattered or scared that you noticed what my favorite flavor is.”
“I watch you do a lot of things,” he said silkily. “I watched you tap dance across your patio one day—not very well, I might add. I’ve also watched you gaze at the stars and write in your little notebook—which I presume is a diary.” He paused. “Is it weird that I like watching you?”
“Very.” But it made me hot all over. “You can’t see into my bedroom can you?”
He stilled, his eyes finding mine. “No.”
A shiver went over me, heat flooding my face at the intensity of his gaze. I had to look away. “I guess if you’re buying me ice cream, I could sit with you.”
“Don’t act like it’s a hardship,” he teased as he escorted me to the back of the shop to find a table. “Millions of girls would mow you over to share ice cream with me, so sit your sweet ass down and talk to me.” He pulled out a seat for me.
I sat, but rolled my eyes. “Modesty is not your forte.”
“No, but honesty is. I promise never to lie to you.”
Oh. His words were said lightly but seemed like a warning.
We settled in and ate our ice cream while he kept sneaking glances at me, his eyes skating over my face, lingering longer than necessary on my lips.
I licked them. “What? You’re making me paranoid. Is there ice cream on my face?”
“No, it’s just—you seem vaguely familiar to me. But then, I’d never forget a girl like you.” He took a bite of ice cream, still scanning my face.
I didn’t want him to piece it together, so I played it off. “You’re dangerously smooth. My mother always said to avoid boys like you.”
He snorted, his lips kicking up in a grin. “Me? Moms love me. I can cook—thanks to my big brother Leo—I like romantic movies like Casablanca, and best of all, I talk to my one-year-old niece on the phone every day. She’s my bro’s daughter and her name’s Gabby, and she’s the most beautiful girl in the world.” He winked. “You’re the second prettiest, of course.”
I mulled that over, my stomach doing a topsy-turvy thing at the image of him cooing on the phone to his niece.
He cleared his throat. “So, no-name girl, I’ve been wondering who you are and I have some theories.”
I blinked. “Yeah?”
He smiled back. “Are you an ex-porn star?”
“Ax-murderer who killed her last boyfriend?”
“No, he still lives.”
He chuckled. “Then I think we’re good.”
“So … are you a famous surfer?” I asked, eyeing the shark’s tooth necklace resting against his shirt.
He rubbed the necklace. “This little gem was taken from a shark the size of a bus. True, I had to kill him with my bare hands, but it’s quite eye-catching. I call it my lucky necklace.”
“You kill sharks in your spare time?” I could see it with those nice arms he had.