Enjoy a small excerpt from the best selling story, "Charmed"! (BEST introduction EVER!)
“This seat taken?”
Skye looked up from her computer, mentally rolling her eyes at the over-used pick up line. Blinking, she stared at the man standing beside her table waiting for a response. He was big, handsome, and had a vibe that screamed, “I’m a badass”. Or maybe it was just that he was confident. On the one hand, she admired that level of confidence. On the other hand, she was pressed for time and didn’t want to waste energy battling an overly confident alpha male. He might look delicious, but she was on a deadline.
“I’m sorry, are you asking to flirt with me? Or do you need that particular chair?”
Normally, when Skye called out a man, they backed away, which was exactly her intention. But not this guy. Nope. He simply sat down across from her, stretching his very long legs out, and rested his hands on his stomach. His shockingly flat stomach, she noticed.
He grinned and, despite her cynicism, her heart fluttered slightly.
“I’m trying to flirt with you. Now that the initial trivialities are over, how about if you introduce yourself? Then, I can tell you my name, you can ignore me, we can pretend we’re not attracted to each other, and you can slap me across the face and I’ll leave.”
She couldn’t help it, the laugh escaped before she could stop it. “Um…what if I…?”
“Nope. Don’t falter from the plan,” he insisted, interrupting her before she could offer her name. “It will throw off the rest of the guys. I have a bet going with them that I can get you to slap my face in three minutes or less.”
A challenge! Hmmm…to flirt or to slap. The temptations were shocking! But…which way should she go? Glancing over the guy’s shoulder…very broad shoulders, she noticed…Skye saw five burly guys sitting at the bar, watching avidly, beers in hand. Turning back to the guy, she shook her head slightly. “You’re kidding, right? You bet them to see how fast you could get my number?”
He chuckled. “Nah, that would be too easy.”
Skye stiffened, offended and ready to slap him. But glancing over at the guys, she noticed that several of them leaned forward. One of them nudged another’s shoulder and slapped more money on the counter. Turning back to the devilishly handsome man, she shook her head. “Okay, let me get this straight. You’re an idiot who bet your friends that you could come over here, introduce yourself, and get me to slap you in no more than three minutes. Did I sum up the situation correctly?”
He shrugged one of those big shoulders. Skye tried not to notice, but they were pretty muscular. Deliciously so.
“That’s close enough to the situation that I’ll call it accurate.”
Closing her laptop, she leaned her forearms against the table and stared at him. “Are you crazy?”
“Nope.” He grinned and mirrored her pose, bracing his arms against the table. Now that he was closer, Skye noticed the sparkle of mischief in his eyes. Despite every feminine instinct inside of her, she was unexplainably drawn to that sparkle. Had she somehow reverted to needing a bad boy in her life? She’d always dated solid, steady men who…were boring. This man…she doubted he would be boring!
Trying to focus on the situation instead of his distractingly attractive features, she tilted her head slightly, working through the puzzle. “Are your friends those annoying rich boys that wander the streets looking for stupid bets so they can lose Daddy’s money?”
He guffawed, throwing his head back. Skye focused on trying to avoid noticing the laugh lines around his eyes or those lips... He was probably a dreamy kisser, she thought.
“No,” he finally replied. “Not a single trust fund kid among my peers.”
Once again, she glanced over the man’s shoulder at the group of men, still trying to understand the ploy. “Then I don’t get it. Why would you want me to slap you?”
He leaned closer as well. “Because there’s fifty bucks on the line. Come on,” he urged. “Just a simple slap.” To make it more convincing, he glanced at his watch. “I have less than ninety seconds.”
Skye wasn’t sure what was going on. She picked up her martini and took a long sip, watching the man over the rim. “Tell you what, I’ll slap you in,” she glanced at his watch, “eighty seconds, if you give me half.”
The mischievous grin widened. “No deal. If I have to be slapped, I want the whole fifty bucks.” He looked at her arms. “I’m guessing you pack a good wallop. I’m going to need the whole amount to ease my pain and sorrow.”
She shrugged dismissively and leaned back. “Fine. No slap.”
He shifted slightly and Skye suspected that she’d just challenged him. “What if I told you that…?”
She lifted a warning finger. “Mention a body part and I walk over there and kiss every one of your friends.”
He stopped, the grin dissolving, obviously shocked by her threat.
She leaned forward again. “With tongue.”
Mark was so turned on, he knew that he would be walking funny for a week! Damn, this woman was hot! All she’d had to do was slap him and walk away, which most women did after the first comment. But she wasn’t playing along.
Damn. He was in so much trouble! Beautiful and daring. That was so hot!
He leaned forward. More to see into her blue eyes…okay, to peer surreptitiously down her blouse but…
“I’m wearing a sports bra,” she stated firmly. “It’s not going to thrill you, so keep your eyes up here.”
Mark thought about it for half a second, but he couldn’t resist. His eyes flashed downward, then back up. It was a fraction of a second, but he’d been caught. Nabbed!
“Why?” he asked softly. She’d caught his eye the moment he’d walked into the bar, thinking she had a body to die for.
She smirked. “Because sports bras are so much more comfortable than those lace things that barely cover up my nipples when doing yoga,” she whispered.
Instant hard on!
She smirked as she pulled back slightly. “And also, it’s fun to watch a man deflate in disappointment.”
She leaned down and grabbed her purse, a huge leather affair.
Mark couldn’t stand up, not with the way his body had reacted. She wasn’t a pushover and she certainly didn’t react like every other woman he’d known. He was in lust! “Leaving so soon?”
“Alas, some people in this world work for a living,” she told him as she stuffed her laptop into the giant leather tote.
“But you’ve barely touched your drink.”
She looked at her martini, then lifted it to her lips and drained it in one swallow, setting it back down on the table with a click. “Any last words?” she asked.
Mark could barely think and she was asking for him to speak? She’d downed a vodka martini in one swallow. His body was ready to explode.
“Apparently not,” she smirked and stood up, slinging the leather straps over her shoulder.
Mark ignored the obvious state of his arousal and stood as well, watching her for one last moment while she walked away. “You’ve got a great ass,” he announced.
That did it. She turned around and, he noticed the sparkle of amusement in her eyes. But she still didn’t slap him. So for the first time in his life, he caved. “Half,” he agreed.
The next thing he knew, his cheek was stinging slightly. She had pulled her slap and he was so turned on, he would definitely be walking funny. It was made worse when she sauntered…and there was no other word for it…to the bar, slapped her hand over the stack of money, and walked out of the bar. There was a moment when she glanced over her shoulder at him, and Mark could have sworn that she winked at him, but he was still too stunned. And hell, too turned on.
Skye sipped her coffee, glancing at her watch impatiently, then at the door. Her blind date was late and that really irritated her. Punctuality was huge in her opinion. It showed that one respected the other person. When someone was late, it told her that they thought their time were more important than her own.
She glanced at her cell phone. Not even a text to tell her that he was running late. Ugh!
She thought about the guy from the other night, smiling at the memory of his poleaxed expression when she’d turned to wink at him. With a chuckle, she banished him from her mind, again. He wasn’t her type and she most definitely wasn’t his type. So why was she…?
A huge, male body sat down in the chair opposite her and she looked into the laughing eyes of…him!
“That seat is taken,” she told him automatically, firmly ignoring her nerve endings, which were doing the happy dance.
“You were waiting for me,” the big guy leaned back in his chair as he lifted his hand to flag down the waitress, who appeared by his side as if by magic, eager to take his order. And who wouldn’t? He was tall, well built, and from their previous interlude at the bar two days ago, incredibly charming.
She swallowed the laughter that flared to life inside of her. “No. I’m waiting for someone, but it definitely isn’t you.”
Those big shoulders shrugged slightly, dismissing her assertion. “It could be me.”
She smirked, trying not to fall for his charm. At least, not so that he would notice. “His name is Tom.”
“How do you know I’m not Tom?”
She gave him an appraising look. “Because you are definitely not an accountant, and you are definitely not looking for me.”
Darn it, that sparkle was back! It was hard to resist a handsome, confident man with a sparkle to his attractive eyes.
“How do you know I’m not looking for you?”
She leaned forward, allowing her eyes to drift over his broad shoulders and what looked to be incredibly tight abs. Abs that any woman would drool over. And lick. And…
Focus! This man was…not for her. He was a player and dangerous. “Because you’re not the kind of man that needs online dating sites to find a date. I imagine that a large percentage of the female population is looking for you.”
He chuckled slightly and she wasn’t sure if he was laughing at her comment, or the fact that she used online dating sites to find dates. “There you go! You’re female. You were looking for me.”
Skye blinked, not exactly sure how the conversation had turned around so completely. “Yes, well, if your name is Tom, then we’re in business. Otherwise, I’m …”
“Tom’s late. Tom doesn’t deserve a gorgeous woman like you if he’s going to be late.”
She agreed, but didn’t admit that. “Traffic.”
He shook his head and she noticed the sun glinting off his brown hair.
“No excuse,” he interrupted. “You need a man who can anticipate problems and arrive on time, even before you to make sure things are safe.”
Despite her feminist instincts, she still felt that warm tingling inside. “I ensure my own safety,” she insisted, trying not to react to the slight upturn of his firm lips.
“Think you’re pretty tough, huh?”
She pulled back, still amused but trying to hide it. This man was trouble. “You’re laughing at me, but that’s fine. I know I look tame, but I’m not as wimpy as I appear.”
“A regular tiger, huh?”
She rolled her eyes and took a sip of her coffee. “Now you’re just mocking me. And you might be hot and hunky-sexy, but I don’t like to be mocked.” She put her coffee down and gathered her purse. “Good night, ‘Tom’.”
She stood up, prepared to leave despite the intense desire to dive back into the chair and talk to him some more. But no, that wouldn’t be a good move. Not for anyone. She slapped some money down on the table.
Stepping away, she couldn’t help turning to glance back at him. Sure enough, he was still watching her and Skye couldn’t stop that shiver of excitement. Awareness.
And then he winked at her. The burst of laughter escaped as she turned and walked away.
Mark watched the sexy woman walk down the street, again leaving his body aching with lust. Just from a laugh? That seemed impossible, but the evidence was obvious. The waitress arrived to deliver his coffee…along with an inviting smile, but he wasn’t interested.
Someone else had captured his mind, he realized.
“Do you need anything else?” the pretty waitress asked leadingly.
Mark looked down the street where the saucy wench had disappeared into the busy crowds. “No. I’m good,” he told her, ignoring the obvious offer in her eyes.
He looked at the coffee, then noticed the money sitting on the table and muttered a curse. His beautiful stranger had paid for his coffee as well as hers!
A less confident man might back down from the challenge…he suddenly realized that he still didn’t know her name. Nor did she know his! He threw back his head and laughed, amazed that, even after two interactions, they still hadn’t gotten that far.
He sipped his coffee and planned out his next move. As second in command of one of the best New York City SWAT teams, it was his job to plan and anticipate. He was good at it and knew that this challenge would be won by tenacity and cleverness.