Page 2 of The Other Man

He smiled; the first full smile I’d ever seen on him.

He liked me hostile.  It was twisted.

He indicated the sweats and running shoes he was wearing.  “I was jogging.  Imagine my surprise when I spotted you.  Nice dog.”

I supposed it kind of added up.  The store where I’d met him was pretty close by.

He must live nearby, I decided.

But to be sure . . . “Do you live around here?”

“Not too far,” he said, and didn’t elaborate.

’Tato returned with his slobbery tennis ball, and I threw it again.

“What’s your dog’s name?”

“’Tato.”  I caught his look.  “Short for couch potato.  My kids named him.”

“How many kids do you have?”

“Two.  Well, they aren’t kids anymore.  Now they’re grown men, but my youngest was twelve when we got ’Tato, and he named him.”

“Both boys?”

“Yes.”

“How old are they now?”

“Twenty-one and eighteen.”

Even his stoic face couldn’t hide his surprise.  “Did you have them when you were twelve?”

I laughed, flattered and a touch chagrined, though I got this a lot.  “No.  I had my oldest at twenty.  I’m forty-one.”

I laughed again when I saw his eyes widen.  “What, did you think you were hitting on someone closer to your own age?”

Something in his expression changed, something worrisome that made his nostrils flare.  “I never thought about it.”

I let him off the hook.  “Don’t worry.  I’m not a cougar.”

“Oh, trust me, I’m not worried.  Let me walk you home.”

What did that mean?  And how insane would it be if I let this strange man walk me home?

“I don’t know you that well,” I told him warily.

“So get to know me.  Let me walk you home, make me a cup of coffee, and we’ll talk.  I’m harmless.”  He smiled a sharp smile that clearly illustrated that he just might be the least harmless person I’d ever met.

Why did that harmful smile make me wet?

“You’re not harmless,” I pointed out wryly.

“To you, I am.  And look, ’Tato thinks I’m all right.”

As he spoke, my traitorous dog was nudging Heath’s hand with his nose.

I watched for a minute as he crouched down, petting my dog until he had him on his back, completely submissive.

That was when I decided to let him walk me home.  Why not?

Was it dangerous?  Yes.  But going by my suddenly throbbing body, my tingling thighs, my aching breasts, perhaps I needed a touch of danger in my life.

It had been so long since I’d felt desire like this.

It wasn’t something I wanted to disregard.

It was something I wanted to explore.  Thoroughly.

I put ’Tato on his leash and started to leave the park.

Heath took my arm like it was the most natural thing in the world.

It didn’t feel natural.  It did, however, feel good.

I found myself leaning into him.  Even with that small contact, the back of my arm against his chest, I noticed that he felt amazing, so hard and big.

I’d been married young and never in my life so much as considered having a one-night stand.  That seemed suddenly like an oversight.  Perhaps I needed to do it once, just to try it out.  And Heath was a man who seemed more than capable of making it worth my while.

Rough, dirty, sheet-clawing sex fairly radiated off him.

And I wasn’t forgetting for even one millisecond about those magnum condoms.

“Don’t make me regret this,” I told him quietly, stealing a glance at his face.

His mouth quirked up.  I was already learning things about him, and one was that he never smiled with his eyes.

They stayed cold, always.

I should have been more worried about that.

“You won’t,” he assured me, voice quiet and steady.  “And you won’t forget it, either.”

I took a deep breath, looking ahead, blinking rapidly.  He was arrogant.  Why did that turn me on so much?

“What do you do for a living?” I asked him, figuring I should know something about him.

“I work in security.”

That could have meant anything, really.  “Care to be more specific?” I prodded.

“Not particularly.”

Well, that was to the point.

“What do you do for a living?” he shot back.

“I’m a photographer.”

“Care to be more specific?”

I almost smiled.  “Specifically, I photograph everything.  People, places, things.  I’m freelance, and I basically work with whatever catches my eye.”

“You could say I’m freelance, as well.  See how much we have in common?”

Not one thing.  Still, it didn’t make me want to turn around.

Or if it did, the slow burn that had started low in my belly overshadowed it too completely for me to linger on it.

Hopefully this sudden desire I had for a bit of strange wouldn’t blow up in my face.

Something occurred to me.  “Maybe we should go to your place instead.”

It seemed wiser not to let him know where I lived.

Another humorless smile.  “It’s not big enough for that dog of yours.  Let’s drop him off at your house first.”

I chewed on that for a bit, but I decided that it didn’t really matter.

More than anything, he seemed like the kind of guy that you had to worry about never seeing again, the opposite of the kind you couldn’t keep from staying away.

“How long have you lived in Vegas?” I asked him, still grasping for a bit of common ground.

“Not long at all.  What about you?”

“I’ve always traveled a lot for work, but I’ve had a house here for over a decade.  I only started staying here fulltime in the last year or so, though.  Been taking a break from traveling, but it won’t last forever.”

I was babbling.  Why was I telling him so much?  He clearly wasn’t going to reciprocate, and he likely didn’t care about anything I was saying.

“Why were you taking a break?” he asked, as though he was interested.

I’d have figured he was just being polite, but I already knew him well enough to understand that he was never polite.

“I . . . went through an ugly divorce, over a year ago, and I decided to stay in one place for a bit, get my head on straight.”

“Vegas is an interesting place to stay to try to get your head on straight.”

That made me laugh because it was very true.  Still, somehow it worked for me.  “My boys enjoy it, and they enjoy staying in one place.  I took them everywhere with me when they were kids.”

“Do they live with you?”

“No, but they live close and visit often.”

“So now they hate to travel?”

“No, I think they still love it, I just think they’re more well-rounded than I am.  What about you?”

“I enjoy traveling, and I’ve done a fair amount of it.”

That was it, nothing else.  He wasn’t a sharer.

“Where did you live before Vegas?”

“Here and there.”

“Which was your favorite?  Here or there?”

I got a slightly bigger smile for that one.  “Here.  Right here.  Do you have any other pets?”

Hello, random.  “No.  Just ’Tator here.  How about you?”

“No pets.  No kids.”

I’d figured.  He didn’t seem the type to have any attachments at all, let alone dependents.

I turned my head slightly and found his eyes on me, full of a disconcerting razor-sharp focus.

It was so disconcerting, in fact, that I began to question what I was doing.  This wasn’t me.  I’d felt a surprising surge of lust and let it temporarily cloud my judgement.

“Knock it off,” he said lightly, or as lightly as he could with that gravelly, bar brawler voice of his.  “Quit thinking so hard.  I told you, you won’t regret this.  You might be too sore to walk without a limp tomorrow, but you’ll be happy about it.”

Something heady and electrifying shot through me.

My nostrils flared, and my breath grew short.

He’d guessed what I was thinking.  That, and all of the sexy, arrogant things he’d just spouted, had me back to being too turned on to think properly.

A man that knew how to read a woman.  That combined with his knockout body and those magnums, well, I couldn’t help it, expectations were getting very unrealistic.

This was not good.  It’d been too long for me, and it had just occurred to me that I was a bit desperate.

I missed penis.  I liked penis, and this sexy creature apparently had an impressive one.  The inner hussy that I never knew I had wanted badly to see it.  See it, and a lot of other things that flashed through my head quite vividly.

Beyond my impeccable instincts and against my better judgement, I kept right on walking with him, all the way to my front door.

I let him into my house, and he prowled inside.


Tags: R.K. Lilley Romance
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