Hooked Up_ Book 1(8)

By: Arianne Richmonde

She flicked her gaze at me but said nothing. I was right—she hadn’t answered my question, just continued to look at me, stunned, as if she really didn’t want to have a conversation at all.

I smiled at her. I felt like a jerk but dug myself in deeper. “Your nametag,” I said. “Were you at that conference around the corner?” I decided that she obviously thought I was a total jackass as her response was clipped, terse.

“Yes I was,” is all she said and then cast a glance at Sophie.

I realized that this woman—her nametag said Pearl Robinson—must have assumed that Sophie was my girlfriend—the perils of hanging out with my beautiful sister. Or maybe Pearl Robinson wasn’t smiling simply because she wanted me to shut the hell up and leave her alone.

But I didn’t back off. “I’ll pay for whatever the lady’s having too,” I told the girl serving our coffee. I wanted to say, ‘Whatever Pearl’s having,’ but thought Pearl would peg me for some kind of stalker. Why I continued to pursue her I wasn’t sure, since she was clearly not interested. But I couldn’t help myself. “For Pearl,” I added, wondering why I was not getting the response I was after. Not to be arrogant, but women did normally smile at me, if not give me the eye. They still do. Daily. But Pearl was not buying it. I wanted her to flirt, brighten up my dull day.

I went on, undeterred—for some reason I didn’t feel like giving up; she had really piqued my interest. “Pearl. What a beautiful name.” Jesus what did I sound like? A typical French gigolo type, no doubt. “I’ve never heard that before. As a name, I mean.”

In my peripheral vision, I caught Sophie rolling her eyes again, and she whispered in French, “Bet you anything you’ll have that woman on her back in no time.” Shut up, Sophie!

Pearl Robinson finally reciprocated with a beautiful big smile. Nice. Pretty teeth. Sexy, curvy lips. She told me about her parents being hippies or something—explaining her name. I wasn’t listening. I’d got her attention, that’s all I cared about. I could tell she liked me. Took long enough for her to warm up, though—all of forty seconds. I felt triumphant. Why? I met pretty women all the time. But there was something about this one that really captured my attention. She was poised and elegant, yet unsure of herself. There was a childish, vulnerable quality about her that I found disarming, even beguiling. She was rifling through her enormous handbag, trying to find her wallet. Why are American women so keen on paying for themselves? Was she embarrassed because I was buying her a coffee?

“What’s your name?” she asked, simultaneously staring at my nametag.

Good . . . ironic sense of humor, I thought. I laughed and introduced myself. Introduced Sophie too.

Pearl went to shake Sophie’s hand and her wristwatch caught on my T-shirt. I looked down at her other hand. No wedding ring. Good. I felt my heart quicken with the physical contact of her delicate wrist brushing against my chest—the intimacy—and I knew . . . in that nanosecond, I knew; I was going to have to fuck this girl.

The way she was looking at me was giving me the green light. Yet her big blue eyes were unsure of me. She looked down at the floor, and then up again at me. She may not have even known it herself at that point—women rarely do—but she wanted me to claim her. I could almost hear her screaming my name. I pictured myself pinning her up against a wall, all of me inside her.

I wanted her. And I was going to have her. You bet. Every last inch of her.

“Remember to use protection,” Sophie whispered in French, “she may look like an nice Upper East side WASP, but you never know.”

I retorted, also in French. “Get your coffee, or whatever you’re drinking, and leave because I’ve had enough of your snippy conversation for one day.”


THEY WERE CHATTING away in French to each other. Thank God eyes were off me. Damn, why did I take off my heels? I felt so insignificant—so low down. My jittery hand groped about in my monster bag again, and my fingers felt the sharp points of my shoes. The fingers wandered about some more. Ah, the wallet, phew, I could feel it. But my heart jumped a beat when, for all my fumbling, I couldn’t locate the keys to my apartment! Why was this man making me so nervous? I was a high-powered producer, a career woman, and yet the man was making me behave like an awestruck teenager. I needed to compose myself.

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