“Who?” I ask, my head slowly swiveling to take in the people, but then my eyes slam to a stop on a man who is staring with an expression that’s difficult to describe. His eyes are hard, almost cold. Jaw locked tight. And yet, he clearly looks surprised to see me, which is weird because he’s a stranger to me.

“Do you know him?” Jorie asks, apparently noticing the mixture of emotions that seem to war on his face.

“Not at all. Do you?”

Jorie snorts. “I don’t know half the people here. I can go find Walsh and ask.”

I turn to face her, mainly to give the man my disregard. I don’t know him, he’s not important, and I don’t feel like fending off someone’s advances. Even though he’s incredibly gorgeous.

“Oh, man,” Jorie whispers as her eyebrows rise high. She gives a nod in the direction of where the man was standing, just over my shoulder. “Here he comes.”

My body locks, and I give her an imploring look. “Don’t you dare leave me.”

“I’m out of here,” she says with a devilish grin. “He’s totally hot, and he’s clearly interested in you.”

“No, Jorie,” I snap, grabbing onto her wrist. I give her a warning glare. “I’ll never forgive you.”

“You’ll thank me later, I’m sure,” she quips before gently pulling herself free from my grasp because I’d never make her stay. It’s her birthday after all.

Jorie slips away, and I turn around with a resigned sigh.

I’m shocked as I take in the man walking toward me. As he gets closer, he gets infinitely better looking. Dark hair worn just long enough to be styled in a mussy, just-got-out-of-bed way that’s totally hip and fashionable. Sculpted cheekbones, full lips, and a narrow nose that makes him appear aristocratic. He’s sporting a very trim, short beard, and his eyes are dark brown and brooding.

What’s most shocking is the man is tall, well built, and yet walks with a slight limp while steadying himself on a cane. Intrigue fills me at his youthful age and in-shape physique, the cane only adding a flair of mystery.

When he reaches me, he lets his gaze travel very slowly and almost possessively down my body. It’s a move that would normally offend me, yet, somehow, I feel like he has the right to do it.

Weird.

His eyes slide just as slowly upward until they stop and lock on mine.

“You,” he murmurs in wonder, and… is that anger?

I blink in confusion. “Me what?”

“I didn’t think you could look any better than when you were naked and covered in hot wax, but I’m apparently wrong about that.”

A jolt of awareness goes through me as I realize who is standing in front of me, and I feel incredibly off balance. His words on their face would be considered seductive and praiseworthy, but the distinct tone of disapproval in his voice would imply he can’t stand the sight of me.

Choosing to focus on his tone instead, I give him a return glare. “Sorry to disappoint.”

He seems startled by the vehemence turned on him, taking an unsure step back. He’s clearly not an unintelligent man. I can tell by the expression on his face he realizes his mistake right away.

“What I should have said,” he says in a gentler tone, “is you look incredibly beautiful tonight. My apologies… I’m not the greatest at giving compliments.”

God, he’s really kind of weird. His words are right—what any woman would want to hear—but he delivers them so awkwardly it’s clear conversing with me is painful. This is so at odds with the confident way in which he handled me at The Wicked Horse last weekend. And there’s no doubt this is the man who rocked my world with hot wax, a vibrator, and a very skillful cock. I recognize his voice just from the first two words he had said to me that night.

“Not there.”

We stare at each other a moment, and I can see him struggling to try to find something to say. It’s not a shyness, but more like an antipathy to carry on small talk. I try to help him out.

“So how do you know Walsh?” I ask.

“Golfing buddy,” he replies, then looks around at the crowd. “I normally hate coming to these things, but I promised him I would.”

“He wanted to make this a huge celebration for Jorie,” I explain before taking a sip of champagne.

“You are friends with her?” he asks as he centers the cane directly before him and rests his hands on top of the ornate T-shaped knob.

“Best friends,” I reply with a slight bob of my head. “Grew up together.”

He nods and scans the crowd, seemingly at a loss for anything to say. So I ask, “What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a neurosurgeon,” he replies as he shifts his attention to me.

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