Melt For Him

By: Lauren Blakely

Chapter One

She had killer legs.

Strong, shapely—the kind that should never be covered up with pants or jeans. Yeah, the woman who’d just walked into the alley behind his bar, as if she were hunting for a bit of peace and quiet, too, should be legally required to wear short skirts and boots every single day.

He’d happily sign that edict.

She headed in his direction, tapping away on her phone, and Becker saw no reason not to check her out from his post at a table on the back porch of the Panting Dog, the microbrewery he owned and operated. Considering the way the crowds inside had felt constricting, wanting to toast him and his good buddy Travis for simply doing their job—as volunteer firemen, they’d answered the call and saved two kids from a fast-moving midnight fire a few weeks ago—he’d had to get away for a bit. The quiet porch had much more appeal than the scene inside, which threatened to bring other memories careening back, too—memories with different endings. But here in the dark of the warm May night that surrounded him, he was trained on the present, only the present—and on those legs.

He raked his eyes over the rest of the woman.

The gorgeous brunette looked like she put a premium on fitness—maybe woke up early for hikes or a five-mile run as the sun rose, just as he did. She was toned all over, and he offered a silent thanks to the genius who invented strappy little tanks, because they’d clearly been designed with this woman in mind. On her wrist she had a gray leather band, like a bracelet, and that, coupled with a small tattoo on her shoulder, seemed to scream “tough chick.” As she neared him, she stopped texting, tucked her phone into her purse, and tugged at the neckline of her shirt.

“Fuck it,” she said and looked to the left, then to the right. She hadn’t seen him. She reached a hand up the back of her shirt, and seconds later she’d unhooked a lacy white bra and was stuffing it into her purse alongside the phone.

The knowledge that her breasts were riding bareback against the tight tank made him instantly hard. The shadows were his friends, though, and the dark corner he’d set up camp in was far enough away from the nearby streetlamps, or she might have seen his jaw drop. She was an even greater sight to behold now, and he could barely take his eyes off the way the fabric hugged her breasts. A triple threat from the legs, to the breasts, to the face. He hoped to God she had all the other assets he liked, too, namely the ones upstairs.

He cycled through opening lines that wouldn’t earn a roll of the eyes. But he didn’t need lines, because she was making a beeline for the table, eyeing the chair across from him.

Maybe fate was in his favor tonight. Maybe she was what he needed to take his mind away from the noise and the chatter—both from inside his bar and from those damn memories that taunted him of all that had gone wrong in Chicago and sent him far away from the Windy City to set up a new home here in Hidden Oaks, California, deep in the heart of wine country. New life, new department, new friends. A new chance.

She wobbled.

She was a few feet away from the table, and she must have caught a rock or a pebble, because she lunged unevenly, starting to reach for the back of a chair. Reflexes kicking in, he rose quickly and steadied her with a sure hand on her elbow. She looked straight at him. There was the slightest touch of embarrassment in her face, but then it was quickly replaced by an amused determination.

She gave a quick wave, then smoothed over her skirt. “Nice to meet you. I’m Megan. I’m kind of a klutz sometimes,” she said, owning it. She was both utterly adorable and unbelievably hot with the way she turned her stumble into a confident introduction.

“I’m Becker. I happen to be a big fan of klutzes.”

She gave him an appreciative nod, as if to say, Well played. He pulled out the chair for her, and she sat down, crossing the bare legs that he longed to touch. If she went commando on top, did she downstairs as well?

A man could dream. A man could hope. A man could thank the lucky stars a claustrophobic evening had just turned into a night of possibility. He sat down quickly, because it was already getting tighter inside his jeans.

Hidden Oaks was just as Megan remembered when she left more than a year ago. All the shops were the same, that statue of the guy on a horse in the town square was the same, even the window displays at the olive oil specialty shop were the same. The only thing different was the bar where she’d planned to meet her friend Jamie before she’d taken the detour to the alley. The Panting Dog wasn’t here a year ago, nor was this man.