Page 18 of The Other Man

I had to squint and do a double take when I saw the size of the weights he used for a long round of surrenders.

At one point, a very hot young brunette approached him, smiling, flirting from across the room.

Oh wow.  I was jealous, and it was awful.

I was not the jealous type.  I’d always been very confident in myself, had felt secure even with my cheating husband, until of course I found out he was a cheat and my best friend was a home-wrecking whore.

But even then, rather than getting jealous, I’d gotten rid of the dead weight that was my loser of a husband.  I’d known it was he that was flawed, not me, and I’d moved the hell on with my life.

I was not a jealous soul.

Or so I had thought.

But then Heath did something that I found made me feel kind of wonderful.

He blew the girl off rather aggressively, with a less than friendly go away motion of his hand, and a sharp, short shake of his head.

She went away, looking baffled.

It was hard not to smile about that.

I wrapped up my cardio at the fifty-minute mark, and he was still going strong, so I hit some of the lighter weight machines, doing lower body reps and mourning the loss of my perfect view of him.

I only had two machines left in my rotation when he showed up at my side, looking oiled up with sweat and good enough to eat.

“You finished?” I asked him on an exhale.

He jerked his shoulder up in a half shrug.  “Whenever you are.”  He was studying me intently.  “We’ve been at this for hours.  How do you never sweat?”  As he spoke, his eyes raked over me.

I did sweat, it was just minimal, and what was there was hard to see, but there were a few spots:  Into my hair, but the dark color hid it well.  And strangely, the outsides of my elbows.

I showed him said elbows.  He traced a finger over the slight bit of moisture there.

“That’s it?” he asked.

I nodded.

He opened his mouth to say something, I’ll never know what, because he was interrupted by another hot young thing brushing up beside him.

“I saw you working out,” she told him, smacking her gum.  She had one of those Kardashian accents that made me cringe, and she was acting like I wasn’t even there or like she assumed he wasn’t with me.  It was infuriating, and I felt another hot stab of awful jealousy.

But his focus was so sharply on me that the feeling went as quickly as it came.  He didn’t even notice, let alone care about all of the attention and admiration being sent blatantly his way.

“Do you mind backing up?” he said tersely, not so much as glancing at her.  “You’re in my personal space, and I don’t even fucking know you.”

She sent him a dirty look and stalked away.

I covered my mouth to stifle a laugh.  He was brutal.

“I hate your gym,” he told me.  “It’s a fucking meat market.  I don’t know how you can stand it.”

I bit my lip, again to stifle a laugh.  I couldn’t really blame him.  I got more than my fair share of male attention on a pretty regular basis, but it was never anywhere approaching what he’d been put through in a few short hours.

“Let’s get out of here,” I responded.

We went for coffee next door to my gym.

“What kind of music do you like?” I asked him.

Of course he turned it on me.  How very Heath.  “What kind do you like?  I bet I can guess.”

It struck me at that moment how we were looking at each other, with near twin expressions, if you could discount his broken, lifeless eyes.  We were smiling at each other like old friends, neither of us hiding our obvious affection for the other.

What strange things we brought out in each other.  Strange, wonderful things.

“Go ahead,” I told him.  “Guess.”

“You like everything.  You’re a moody listener.  Whatever strikes your fancy.”

Dammit.  “It’s like you know me.”

One of his big, rough fingers stroked feather light over my cheekbone.  “I want that.  To know you.  I really want that.”

Sweet, strange man.  “My turn.”

His smile widened, and it nearly took my breath away.  I’d never seen him do anything quite like it, all of his inherent meanness gone from his face, the ever present tough guy gone for one brief moment.

He looked happy.  God, he was gorgeous.  And so young.  It was easy to forget.

“Go for it,” he prompted.  “I can’t wait to hear what you’ll come up with.”

“Death metal.  You’re a metal head.”

He laughed, threw back his head and laughed.

I can’t deny, just seeing it had me falling just a little bit harder for him.

I knew this was precious, a rare showing for Heath, and all I wanted to do was devote my time and energy into bringing this out of him, to cultivating his softer side.

I was a chronic fixer.  Hopeless, really.

“No,” he said finally.  “Not even a little.  That sort of music gets on my nerves.  Too loud and disorderly.”




Another laugh, and I fell a little deeper, damn him.




“Um . . . pop?” I was running out of options.

He leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead.  “Not likely.”

“Okay, I give up.”

“Classical music is the only stuff I listen to by choice.  It’s . . . peaceful.  The rest is just chaos to me.”

I never would have guessed.

He was so complicated, and God was I a sucker for a complicated man.

I had kind of assumed (and hoped) that we’d mess around before getting ready to go out, but no such luck.  Heath left me at my front door with an obligatory goodbye and a warning that he’d be back in an hour.

Eek, I thought.  I wanted more than an hour.  I was pretty sure I needed more.

This was, after all, our very first date.

I’d never even gotten a chance to dress up for him.  He’d seen me sans makeup/sans clothes more than anything else.

I hopped in the shower in a rush, washing my hair, though I knew it took nearly an hour just to get the thick masses dry.

I had my wet hair wrapped in a towel as I perused my closet.  Dinner and a movie was the strangest kind of date to dress for, but this was Vegas.  Just a few days ago, I’d seen someone in a full out ball gown at the grocery store.  Anything went here.  It was one of my favorite things about this town.

I loved clothes.  Shopping was an enduring obsession of mine, but I was dressing for a man who I knew would not appreciate anything about the latest trends.

So I went for sexy and flirty with my favorite little black dress.  I hadn’t worn the thing in ages, but nothing flattered my figure more.  It showed off my legs and just enough cleavage to turn some heads.  The stretchy jersey material hugged my chest and waist, dipping in to accentuate my curves, then flowed out in a short, A-line skirt.

I left my hair wavy, which saved time, but went all out with the makeup, going for a smoky eye and red lips, so I was still pushing it to the very last minute.

I slipped into my favorite black Lady Peep Louboutins.  They were sky high, but Heath was tall enough that I could get away with it.

I grabbed a light jacket since I always got cold at the show.

I was ready almost to the second, which was a good thing, because Heath was at my door exactly on time.


His reaction to my efforts was gratifying.  His eyes were indecent as they took me in head to toe.

He was wearing a dark polo and dark wash jeans, and he looked good enough to eat in tiny, savoring bites.

“You sure you want to go anywhere tonight?” he asked.

In answer, I shut and locked my door.

He cursed under his breath.

He led me to his car, a Jaguar F-type that I knew had to cost upwards of a hundred grand.

“Is this your car?” I asked him as I slid into the passenger’s seat.  I was back to wondering again if he was a criminal.

“I’m borrowing it,” he said after he got behind the wheel.  And of course he didn’t elaborate.

I picked a gourmet burger place for dinner.  I didn’t imagine Heath would appreciate gourmet French cuisine the way I did, so I settled on my second favorite—a perfect burger.

“So if they leave out the e, it makes it gourmet?” Heath asked as we approached the restaurant Burgr.

I sent him a sideways smile.  He did have a sense of humor, I was finding out.  It was just very dry.  “Do you like burgers?”

“Yeah.  I have to say, I was worried you’d pick someplace with frog legs or something.”

“I found a compromise.”

The restaurant was crowded, and I wasn’t imagining it, people were definitely staring at me, then him, then back at me as we were shown to our table.

“People are staring at us,” I said quietly.

Heath glanced around and stared at some people until they looked away.  “So?”

“They’re staring at us because I’m sixteen years older than you.”

Tags: R.K. Lilley Romance