He tosses his head back, cracking up. “Fitz, do you ever take no for an answer?”
“You haven’t said no. And if you do, I will walk away in a second, and you will never hear from me again. I respect boundaries. I respect the hell out of no. If you want to say no, say it.” I wait. Arms crossed. Patient.
He looks at me, pinning me with an intense stare, one that has so much going on behind it.
If I only knew what.
He takes a small step closer, getting near me, and hell, I love being this close. This isn’t the accidental brushing from earlier. He knows precisely what he’s doing. Because even though he hasn’t touched me, I can tell by the way he swallows, by the hitch of his breath, that he’s affected by me being near him.
Same goes for me.
Dean takes a moment, like he’s collecting himself before he answers.
When he speaks, his voice is low, just for me. “You might have noticed I’m not saying no to you. That, in fact, I’m having an incredibly hard time turning you down, Fitz.”
I nearly groan at the way he says my name. Like he wants more of it, more of me.
“Good. I don’t want your no. I want your yes. But right now, I would settle for showing you how awesome softball is.” I take a beat. “Ball’s in your court, sexy bartender.”
He picks up the volley and serves it in my direction. “Yes, cocky athlete,” he says. “Show me why you like softball.”
And I’m patting myself on the back for having the self-restraint not to pump a fist.
But that’s how I feel right now.
Like I just set up a beautiful play.
They’re going to take away my award.
All that resisting, all that attitude with Maeve, and what am I doing now?
Following this outgoing, determined, sexy-as-sin, and fit-as-fuck American to some cheesy, gimmicky bar.
I detest gimmicky bars as much as I loathe piña coladas. This kind of theme bar is an affront to everything I want for The Magpie.
Posters of ballplayers line the walls, all of them pitching or crouching behind a plate or running. Lots of thick mustaches. Loads of pinstripes.
Perhaps that’ll kill the buzz I seem to have from Fitz. The intoxicating effect he has on me.
Maybe I should just home in on this bar’s atmosphere, which should shore up my resistance—like the neon everywhere, and so much awful beer, endless taps of Bud and Corona. If anyone saw me here, I’d have to hang my head in shame. Lucky for me—or unlucky, considering I have a bet I’ve got to somehow hold on to—Fitz shows no interest in lingering at the bar.
We pay the attendant at the bottom of the stairs, then Fitz leads us right up them, following the signs for “Rooftop Batting Cages.”
As he goes, he keeps looking back, watching me with those blue eyes that seem to get heavier with want with every step.
“Like the view?”
“It’s not bad.”
“Right back atcha.”
I laugh at his way of speaking, his Americanisms that are kind of endearing.
All I’m doing is blowing off steam. Letting him teach me a little softball. That doesn’t mean anything more will come of it.
He’s just a man.
An insanely smooth-talking man with a fantastic laugh and a tempting beard.
A man that, unless I want to spend the weekend scrubbing walls, I have to resist.
On the roof, we grab the bat and balls ourselves, since this is a do-it-yourself setup, then head to the makeshift lane and its home plate. Maybe thirty or forty feet away, there are nets to catch the balls, so they don’t pelt the Londoners on the street. Very considerate.
It’s quiet up here, except for the whir of the bar down below.
I pick up the bat and swing it once for practice. “Easy.”
“Easy and fun, right?”
“Sure. It’s easy and fun,” I repeat, and the weight of my words fully registers.
Something about being with Fitz is easy. Everything about being with Fitz is fun.
I bet getting him naked would be easy and fun too.
And in a filthy heartbeat, my threadbare resistance starts to unravel.
Intense concentration etches on his brow. Dean swings the bat again with the same grace and power he used when he was mixing drinks.
“Your grip’s all wrong,” I say and because sports are second nature to me, I move in behind him, my arms over his, adjusting. Damn, he smells good. Like soap and pine and the man I want my hands on, my mouth on. The man I want to have my way with.
I take a breath. I have to make this count.
Something tells me it’s now or never if I’m going to win Dean over.
And this is a match I don’t intend to lose.
“There,” I say, shifting his right hand one more inch. “You want to put your hands like that. Hold on to it. The power comes from the stance.”