Page 6 of Tripping on a Halo

Tech Engineering. That was what her profile had said. He tried to find a subject centered on that and failed. “I’m sorry.” He grimaced. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a date. I’m a little out of practice.”

She laughed, and she had a nice laugh—the sort that caused her whole face to light up. “It’s fine. Honestly? This is the fifth date I’ve had this month. I’d much rather be in your situation.”

He winced. “Ouch. Are you that picky or were they that bad?”

She held up her hands. “I think it’s that I’m that bad. Five dates and only one follow up call.”

He leaned forward. “Impossible. You’re…” Sweet. Smart. Attractive. Too bad they had no spark of chemistry.

She raised a brow. “Intimidating. That’s been the common consensus.”

She wasn’t intimidating, not compared to Benta Aldrete, who he and Nate had spent all day with. That woman was a force of nature. Compared to her, Margaret seemed like a pleasant change of pace. Still, he nodded to validate her hypothesis. “A beautiful and intelligent woman is intimidating to a lot of men.”

She watched him closely. “But not you?” There was a hint of desperation in her voice and it was most likely that which had scared off other men. Even the question made him feel uncomfortable, as if he was being forced into a second date before they ordered appetizers.

He shook his head. “I’m not intimidated.”

She gave a tentative smile. “Good.”

This was bad. He was leading her on, couldn’t decipher his own feelings to save his life, and they had barely sat down. He shouldn’t be dating. It was too soon after his breakup with Nicola. He was like a lost bunny, caught in a trap with chickens, headed to slaughter.

Margaret’s eyes caught on something behind him. “Oh my God…” she murmured. “You won’t believe the woman that just walked in.”

His back stiffened. Of course his stalker was here. He’d picked the restaurant specifically in hopes the swanky address and valet parking would keep her at bay. He’d sat with his back to the door, had taken a roundabout route from home and had all but sprinted into the restaurant in hopes of avoiding her. Everything for nothing. She was here and would probably do something absolutely ridiculous. He forced the stress out of his voice and picked up his water glass in the most casual manner he could manage. “Really?”

She leaned forward and shot him a mischievous look. “Don’t look, but she’s got the most enormous breasts you’ve ever seen.”

His shoulders relaxed. Not that he’d examined his stalker’s breasts, but from a side glance, they’d appeared perfectly normal sized. Nice, if you liked small breasts, which he always had. Which was why what had happened with Nicola had been so jarring. It—

“Hello, Declan.”

He lifted his head and almost dropped the glass of water. “Nicola.”

His ex stood beside their table, one hip cocked, her skintight dress barely containing the basketball-sized breasts she had purchased shortly before their break-up. According to her new bras, which he’d peeked at while she was in the shower, they were double Es. Double Es that looked like triple Fs on her tiny frame. He tried to look around them and to her face, a difficult feat given his seated position, her close proximity, and the four-inch heels she wore.

“Hi.” His date smiled wryly up at Nicola. “I’m Margaret.”

“Nice to meet you,” Nicola cooed. That was another thing she’d adopted. After her breasts had come an entirely new wardrobe, giant new eyelashes, blonde hair and a raspy voice that giggled and fawned.

She leaned on the table, facing Declan, her elbows jutting into the sides of her breasts and pushing the giant balloons together. “You haven’t been returning my calls.”

His eyes met Margaret’s and she tilted her head at him as if to say Really, Declan? Why haven’t you returned her calls?

He smiled tightly. “Nicola, this isn’t really the place or time to be having this conversation.”

She huffed out a sigh, her eyelids drooping, and trailed a long red fingernail along the back of his hand. “We can’t exactly have a conversation if you won’t answer the phone.”

“Margaret, I’m sorry.” He pushed back his seat and gave her a grim nod as he rose. “Could you give me one moment?”

She spread her hands as if to give him all the time in the world. Pressing a firm hand on Nicola’s back, he ushered her toward the front of the restaurant.

“You can’t be doing this,” he gritted out.

“Excuse me!” Nicola planted her heels into the carpet, yelling loud enough to cause the closest tables to look over in alarm. Declan stepped back and raised his hands in surrender.

“You know,” she hissed. “I’m here on a DATE.” She nodded to the right, and Declan didn’t turn, feeling sorry for whatever poor bastard was witnessing this. “You’re embarrassing me.” She attempted to cross her arms over her chest but struggled, the massive appendages too large to allow a successful linkage of forearms. It was shocking, given the physics of her new anatomy, that she was able to stay upright.

Tags: Alessandra Torre Romance