Page 11 of Husky

“I’m either really tired or you’re rubbing off on me, because that actually made sense,” he chuckles. “You want me to try it on?”

“Please!” I drag him to one of the full-length mirrors and help him put on the jacket, exhaling a sigh of relief when it drops down perfectly over his extra-broad shoulders. Smoothing wrinkles and picking lint, I circle him like a nervous hummingbird, finally stopping to examine him in the mirror. And wow. Just wow. He was already hot, but now he looks like an action star on the red carpet. “Oh, Daws. I can’t believe it…this might be my favorite piece in the whole line. It’s the anchor that’s going to pull it all together.”

“Comfortable, too,” he comments, testing the arms. “Good job, Nebraska.”

“Thank you.” I clasp my hands beneath my chin. “Now we just have to practice your runway walk.”

“I’m going to have to learn one before I can practice it.”

“Noted.” I scan the room and wince. “We’re going to need more space for legs as long as yours. Are you up for a walk?”

We buy coffees and walk up to the High Line, an old elevated rail line turned city park that runs along the West Side of Manhattan. The sun is just beginning to come up, rays of light threading in between the skyscrapers to our left, the Hudson River silent, stretching out endlessly on our right. There are normally crowds and vendors packing every inch of the narrow walk, but it’s early on a weekend and we’re the only people in the world. As wired as I am from a sleepless night followed by a fashion victory, the brisk, sharp morning feels extra surreal.

I set my paper coffee cup down on the railing and square my shoulders. “All right. Runway walk. So I don’t expect you to glide like a model. In fact, I don’t want you to. Just be Daws, okay? We’re only going to work on your pace and the turn.” I center myself in the middle of the High Line, straighten my back, deaden my eyes and strut. “See? There will be music playing. Keep pace with it, but don’t hurry.” I pause, widen my stance, drop my hip. “And then stop, pose, turn to the right, walk back to the left of the next model.”

When we face each other again, there is heat banked in his eyes. “Not sure I understand. I might need to watch you do that another hundred times.”

A giggle almost escapes, but I clamp my lips together and keep it trapped. Is he flirting with me? Shivers race over every inch of my skin at the possibility that he wants to do more of what we did last night in the design room. Although…if he likes me, wouldn’t he have held my hand during our walk? Or kissed me? Or told me bluntly that he’s interested in making me his girlfriend? He’s so blunt in manner, I can’t imagine him keeping anything to himself.

“You give it a try,” I say with a jerky motion. “I bet you’ll be great.”

There is something so magical about the two of us being alone in the early morning, our voices crystal clear against the sunrise. His boots fall heavily when he walks, his gait so loose and masculine, it reminds me of something. “Were you a bodyguard in a past life?”

He’s at the end of his imaginary runway now and he stops, the way a ship coasts to rest at a dock. The pose he chooses is to cross his arms, look mean, drop them to his sides and return to me at a casual pace, as if he didn’t just make me want to throw my panties into the Hudson. “Yeah I was,” he answers with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. “How did you know?”

“You look like you should be walking alongside the president or something.”

“Actually, I did. A few times, during UN assemblies mostly.” He stops in front of me. “Back when I worked for the former mayor.”

My chin is in the vicinity of my toes. “No way! Why did you stop?”

Daws hesitates, as if uncomfortable. “Do you remember the attempt on the mayor’s life? During that awards ceremony at City Hall?” I nod slowly and he taps his shoulder. “The bullet ended up here instead. I had every intention of going back to work, but…”

“What?”

“Me getting shot scared my grandmother and her health is fragile, so…” He clears his throat. “I went into the bar business instead.”

“Oh,” I sigh dreamily, swaying toward him a little. “You quit for your grandma.”

He grunts, once again seeming uncomfortable with any kind of recognition. “You never told me how I did with the runway walk.”

“Oh! It was perfect! You’re going to put everyone to shame.”

He scoffs, but there’s a slight change in color to the tips of his ears. “I don’t know about that, Nebraska.”


Tags: Jessa Kane Romance
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