Melt For Him(4)By: Lauren Blakely
“I could ask you the same.”
“Sure. Might as well start there.”
“I don’t like parties,” she admitted.
“I don’t like crowds.”
“Ah, so we have that in common.”
“And that’s why we find ourselves here in an alley.”
“Besides hanging out solo in alleys on a Friday night, what is it that you do, Mr. Becker?” She was surprised at how incredibly flirtatious she sounded when she said his name, almost like Marilyn breathily whispering, “Mr. President.” But then Becker was the opposite of what she’d been used to for the last year. He seemed both straightforward and completely lacking in pretenses, and there was little more appealing to Megan than that. Well, except perhaps for his body, all carved and broad, and his eyes, so dark and penetrating. She imagined being underneath him, looking into their depths, feeling the intensity of his stare as he moved in her, the kind of gaze that could blot out all the bad memories.
He tipped his head to the back entrance of the Panting Dog. “I own this place,” he said, and that tripped a switch in her memory. Jamie had once said that she wanted to hook up Megan with her boss, who was super hot. Jamie was right—Becker was smoking. “Speaking of, can I interest you in a beer? All locally brewed and all named after dog breeds. In addition to klutzes, I happen to be a big fan of dogs.”
She laughed. “Dogs are cool. So’s beer.”
“We have wine, too, if that’s your thing.”
“And why on earth would I drink wine when you have microbrews named for dogs? How about a Chihuahua?” she said with a smile. “I’ll take my chances even though I have no idea what kind of beer the Chihuahua gave its name to, but those are some seriously fine-looking little dogs.”
“One raspberry ale coming up for the woman who doesn’t like crowds, who thinks bras suck, and who believes owls have deeper meanings.”
Whoa. In five minutes he already knew more about her than most people did. And she’d been trying so hard to keep everyone out.
Perhaps retreat had its rewards after all. Look what it had brought tonight in the form of Megan. She was devastatingly beautiful and had a lush little body he could wrap his hands around, but looks alone had never done him in. The fact was, she had a dry sort of charm and a bit of an edge, like she was the kind of woman who didn’t take shit from anyone. And there was something else, too. Almost a distance, as if she had walls up.
He understood walls. They made sense to him. They protected him from getting too close.
That’s why he told Megan he owned the bar but said nothing of his work moonlighting as the local fire captain. It was the truth, but it also guaranteed she wouldn’t be into him for the whole stereotype. He’d been there, done that, had an ex in Chicago who’d been far too interested in the job title and parading around the fireman she’d nabbed, like he was some sort of trophy. With Megan, he was Becker the bar owner, and he liked the fact that she was new to town, so there was no history, no expectations. She wasn’t a local, so she thought of him only as maybe someone she wanted to spend the night with, because that’s what he wanted, too. The way she’d said “Mr. Becker” sure as hell made him think about lifting her up and hitching those legs around his waist.
He walked quietly into the noisy bar and poured the beers, including a porter—dubbed the Great Dane—for himself. He returned to the back porch, drinking in the view along the way. The glow of the streetlamp along with the crescent moon bathed her face in soft light as she swiped a finger across the screen of her phone. He could tell she was reading a book rather than texting, and there was something hot about a woman who didn’t need the distraction of checking her online status or sending emoticon-laden messages in a spare moment, but who instead chose the company of words to pass the time.
He joined her, and she tucked her phone away.
He handed her the beer. Their fingers touched, and she tilted her head, meeting his eyes. She didn’t look away, just held his stare head-on, without shyness, without fear, and so he leaned closer to her and said, “To anti-crowds.”