It’s quiet. I don’t take a seat, but stand in the middle of the room amongst the tables.
“We’re closed,” she says, coming through the swinging door. And then her head jerks up as she comes to a halt. “Oh, it’s you.”
She’s even lovelier than I remembered, than I dreamed. Delicate midnight tendrils frame a face that belongs in a museum—with stunning dark sapphire eyes that should be commemorated in vibrant oils and soft watercolors. If Helen launched a thousand ships, this girl could raise a thousand hard-ons.
She’s prettily made, the top of her head coming only to my chin, but fantastically curvy. Great full tits that strain the buttons of a wrinkled white blouse, shapely hips in a black skirt tapering to a tiny waist I could wrap my hands around and toned legs encased in sheer black tights finish off the whole package very nicely.
An unfamiliar anxiousness fizzes like soda in my gut.
“The door was open,” I explain.
Logan flicks at the lock. Security is his life, so a broken lock would annoy him like a puzzle with the final piece missing.
“What do you want?”
She has no idea who I am. It’s in the defensive way she holds herself and the accusatory note in her voice. Some women try to pretend they don’t recognize me, but I can always tell. Her ignorance is rather…thrilling. There are no expectations, no hidden agendas, no reasons to pretend—what she sees is what she gets. And all she sees is me.
My throat is suddenly a barren wasteland. I swallow, but it’s difficult.
“Well, he’s desperate for some pie.” I hook my thumb at Simon. “And I…wanted to apologize for the other evening. I don’t normally act that way. I was on a bit of bender…”
“In my experience, people don’t do things when they’re drunk that they wouldn’t do normally.”
“No, you’re right. I would’ve thought all those things, but I never would’ve said them out loud.” I move closer, slowly. “And if I’d been sober…my opening bid would’ve been much higher.”
She crosses her arms. “Are you trying to be cute?”
“No. I don’t have to try…it just sort of happens.”
Her brow furrows just slightly, like she can’t decide if she should be angry or amused. I feel myself smiling. “What’s your name? I don’t know if I asked before.”
“You didn’t. And it’s Liv.”
“That’s an odd name. Were you ill as a baby? I mean, is live what your parents were hoping you’d do or did they just not like you?”
Her lips fold like she’s fighting a grin. Amused is in the lead.
“Liv, Livvy—short for Olivia. Olivia Hammond.”
“Ah.” I nod slowly. “That’s a beautiful name. Much more fitting.” I can’t take my eyes off her. Don’t want to in the slightest. “Well, Olivia, I regret my behavior when we first met and I hope you’ll accept my apology.”
There’s the tiniest flinch of her features—a split second—but I see it. Then she moves to a table and fidgets with a clear-wrapped pie. “Whatever. I’m over it. It’s not like you said anything that wasn’t true. It is pretty obvious that I do need the money.”
The self-deprecation in her voice—and knowing it’s there because of me—makes my voice sharp. “Olivia.”
She looks up, into my face. And my tone gentles. “I’m sorry. Truly.”
That dark blue gaze holds onto mine for a few seconds before she says softly, “Okay.”
“Okay,” I return, just as soft.
Then she blinks and hands the pie to Simon. “You can have this—it’s two days old, so I won’t sell it. It might be a little dry, but it’s on the house.”
He smiles like a wolf that’s just been handed a wounded sheep.
“You really are an angel, lass.”
“Can he take a fork with him?” I ask. “So I don’t have to listen to his stomach grumble the entire way.”
Smirking, she hands over a fork.
And I go for the gold.
“Would you like to have coffee sometime, Olivia? With me?”
It’s been years since I’ve asked a woman out on a real date. It’s strange—exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time.
“I don’t like coffee. Never touch the stuff.”
My eyes roll over the room. “You work in a coffee house.”
I nod. “Hmm, I see your point. It’ll have to be dinner, then. Are you available this evening? I could pick you up on our way back.”
She gives a jumpy laugh.
“I thought you didn’t have time for” —she makes air quotes with her fingers— “‘wooing’?”
“Some things are worth making time for.”
That catches her off guard, making her words stumble. “Well I…don’t…date.”
“Good God, why not?” I ask, horrified. “That’s a bloody sin.”
“You’re stunning, obviously clever—you should date often, and preferably with a man who knows how it’s done.” I rest my palm on my chest. “Coincidentally, I happen to be fantastic at it. What are the odds?”
She laughs again, quick and light. And it feels like when I pull myself up the last peak of a rock formation. Satisfying. More than a bit victorious. Before she can answer, a furry headache on four legs appears beside her, making a yapping, snarling sound.