“I’m not frigid!” the lovely woman mumbled, sliding her adorable, tweed-clad bottom onto the leather barstool.
Pierce Danilov watched, fascinated as the woman whipped her brown tweed jacket off, bundled it into a ball and stuffed it into her enormous leather tote bag. He grinned at the way she was trembling with anger. She was cute, but…also a distraction. He wasn’t here in this bar to watch lovely ladies, even if the lady in question was adorable and with a very sexy, very enticing derriere.
Unfortunately, the conversation at his table was far less interesting.
“A dirty martini,” the beautiful woman snapped to the bartender. The woman’s order caught his attention and he turned, admiring her profile. He would have thought she was more of a sedate, white wine kind of woman. The fact that she’d ordered such a strong drink intrigued him further. Her profile was stunning, he thought. Her cute chin looked like it could be stubborn but her button nose diminished the effect. It was small and cute with a hint of a curl at the tip. He wished she’d look over at him, wanting to see her eyes. He’d wager she had incredible eyes.
“I’m not frigid,” she asserted again in a furious whisper. “I’m cautious! With my history, caution is important! Smart people learn from their past! Smart people are cautious!” Her spine had been straight when she’d sat down at the bar, but as she muttered, her spine stiffened further.
He could hear her words, but they didn’t make a lot of sense, although, obviously, someone had told her that she was frigid. His eyes moved lower, taking in all of her. Frigid? With that body? He doubted it!
Unfortunately, she stared down at the drink the bartender placed in front of her, so he didn’t get a glimpse of her eyes. She didn’t take a sip of her martini. For long moments she simply stared down at drink. If looks could kill, that martini glass would shatter.
All that trembling energy, he thought, his body reacting and his thoughts unable to focus on the conversation going on around him. Thankfully, his executive vice president was sitting next to him, doing a capable job of handling the discussion, so Pierce leaned back, sipping his own scotch, and watching the woman at the bar.
She looked out of place, he thought. She definitely wasn’t a barfly. The women who regularly hung out in bars had a harder edge to them, a look that revealed their disappointment with the world but a desperate hope that things wouldn’t always be as bad as their past experience might indicate.
No, this woman didn’t have any hard edges. She was all soft curves, cute nose, and full, enticing breasts pressing against the conservative, cream silk blouse. Her outfit didn’t match the barfly persona either. Brown tweed and cream silk screamed “teacher” or something along those lines. It was the kind of suit that a woman wore to a job interview. The look was conservative, implying that the person was steady and dependable. Nothing that screamed daring and adventurous. Everything about the woman was polished and conservative but with no style, nothing to draw the eye.
Except for her figure. It was glorious. Tiny waist, slender legs, full hips, and lush breasts. She was amazing.
And she still wasn’t drinking her martini.
Why this particular woman caught his eye, Pierce couldn’t define exactly. But she had. She was enticing and entrancing.
And damn it, he wanted to see her eyes!
He shifted slightly and the movement caught her eye and her head swiveled towards him. That’s when he froze!
Damn! Her eyes were amazing! They were a shocking, crystal green. No, not crystal. Crystal sounded too hard. They were soft, clear and amazing. Like wet moss.
She was beautiful. Not in an actress or model sort of way. But a refreshing, natural type of beautiful. She brought springtime to mind. Her eyes whispered of that first warm day after a miserable winter, when all of the windows were thrown open and the soft breeze wafted through the house, washing out the dust and mustiness developed over the harsh winter months.
Pierce blinked, wondering where the hell he’d gotten all of that romantic drivel. Describing a woman’s eyes as a “fresh breeze” or “wet moss”?
He tried to shake off the feeling, to pull his eyes away. He needed to focus on the meeting, not on a pair of stunning green eyes surrounded by thick, dark lashes.
Instead, he allowed his eyes to move lower, taking in every luscious, delectable detail about her figure, moving down to her conservative, brown shoes with tiny, two inch heels before moving back up, including the way her nipples pressed against that silk, revealing much to his hungry eyes.
He realized he’d rattled her when he looked back up to her face. Those red lips were open, forming a small “o” and her eyes were softer, as if his gaze had affected her as much as it had affected himself. He wanted to see her breasts, to rip away the silk, discard the lace bra holding them captive. Pierce wanted to know this woman with a surge of lust so strong and powerful, he was almost reeling with his need.
Never had lust for a woman hit him so hard and so fast. He wanted her. He wanted to know everything there was about her. The business discussion swirled around him, but he ignored it. For the first time in his life, business took second place.
He might have resented the woman for being such a distraction, but he couldn’t build up enough steam for resentment. He was completely focused on the lust, the desire to pull her into his arms and carry her off to a private place where he could make love to her for the next twelve hours. Maybe longer.
Naya had come to the bar to meet with her friends, get over the harsh words of her now-ex-boyfriend. She’d needed a break, a moment out of the insanity her life had become. Unfortunately, this entire day had gotten out of control.
Now she was staring at a man, a man that impacted her on a purely elemental, primal level. Her ex-boyfriend’s harsh, demeaning words vanished from her mind while the dark haired man at the table next to the bar moved his dark gaze down her body, then back up again. With every inch his eyes traveled, her body reacted. His gaze felt like a caress. A naughty, wicked caress. In the past, men had looked at her with lust, but they’d been boys. Obnoxious, disgusting humanoids with no respect for personal boundaries.
This man wasn’t a boy. He was like a ferocious, teeth-gnashing wolf. The kind of beast one watched with increasing terror while searching for a tree to climb for protection. The other men she’d known were more like cocker spaniel puppies who needed their bellies rubbed.
Naya couldn’t imagine rubbing this man’s belly.
Well, she could, actually. It would be dangerous. It could be lethal!
But she’d like to try!
Naya blinked, and shook her head as she realized where her mind had gone. She wasn’t the kind of woman who fantasized about having wicked sexual encounters with strangers! She was the conservative type. The kind of woman who flirted with a guy for months before she would go on a date with him!
Good grief, Kevin had broken up with her earlier today because she wouldn’t have sex with him! He’d called her frigid and yet, she was sitting here in a fancy hotel bar, ogling a feral, dangerous stranger. And worse, he was ogling her back!
With extreme effort, Naya pulled her eyes away and checked her phone. Where were her friends? Ella and Cassy should be here! They should be right here next to her. The three of them should be talking and laughing about their days. If they were here, she wouldn’t be ogling a stranger, and she definitely wouldn’t be feeling this strange heat surging through her.
Naya looked in front of her, surprised to find the martini she’d ordered. Why had she ordered a martini? Oh yeah, because Kevin had said she was frigid and she was trying to break out of her uber conservative demeanor. No more white wine for her!
She lifted her hand, surprised that her fingers were shaking. She peeked over at the man again, stuffing her hand back onto her lap, not wanting him to see how his gaze had affected her.
But he was still watching her!
She turned back to her cell phone, praying that Ella and Cassy would arrive quickly. She needed them!
Unfortunately, no messages. Nothing!
She was going to tear into them when they finally showed up. They never should have left her here alone.
Well, if she were being perfectly honest, she hadn’t anticipated finding a terrifying wolf, who was staring at her as if she would be his next dinner.
The idea perked her interest and she glanced over at the man again. Sure enough, he was still watching her. She wasn’t sure how to handle a man like that. Especially when he looked at her with such…interest. Naya didn’t think of herself as the kind of woman who would attract the interest of a man like that! But…her body warmed at this man’s look.
Now, why did the idea of this man doing things to her –wicked, naughty, lusty things–not make her run away or cringe with revulsion? Just the opposite, in fact. Her whole body was tingling with awareness as her mind remembered all of those wicked, naughty and lusty options she’d read about over the years.
Goodness, was it warm in here?
She looked around, wondering if the air conditioning was broken. Where were her friends?!
Of course, if she hadn’t told them to meet her here and if they weren’t probably still in transit, then she would just pay for her drink and get out of here. That man alarmed her in ways that she didn’t fully understand. He was so completely out of her league, they weren’t even playing the same game!
Why hadn’t she suggested their usual hangout?
Oh yeah, the “grumpy leprechauns” were there now. Her company had hired five new college hires and Naya had been assigned to train them on the marketing systems. As a junior member of the marketing team, she’d initially been excited about the assignment, thinking it would be a good way to showcase her skills, get a good raise this year. Or maybe even a promotion!
But she hadn’t anticipated the new batch of college hires to be short, obnoxious men masquerading in adult bodies. The group of new marketing “experts” were annoying man-children who thought they had all of the answers, preferring to lean back in their chairs during marketing meetings so that they could scoff at everyone else’s ideas, without offering any ideas themselves.
She glanced over at the man, and shivered when she found him still watching her. Naya could tell that the man over at that table wouldn’t be short. No, long, muscular legs were stretched out in front of him, indicating that he was tall. With broad shoulders and eyes that conveyed silent, delicious messages.
She certainly wasn’t going to translate those messages!
Glancing down at her phone, there still weren’t any messages from Ella and Cassy. She wasn’t surprised. Ella was a reporter that tended to get lost in her world of mysterious wrongdoings. She normally traveled the globe, ferreting out breaking news and conveying everything to her loyal readership. She was a bouncy, energetic woman with short, dark curls and eyes that saw everything. Cassy was the opposite. She was a serious lawyer with long, dark, straight hair and could sit still for hours, listening to people drone on about complicated legal issues, always with a stern, professional expression. Naya knew her own personality was in between those of her friends. She wasn’t tall or short. She wasn’t fat or skinny. She was just an average woman, working at an average job. All she wanted from life was a cozy house, a gentle husband, and a house filled with kids and laughter. Things she hadn’t had growing up.
Checking her phone yet again, she prayed her friends were on the way.
Ugh! She should just leave, she thought.
Glancing over at the man, she placed her hands on the bar, prepared to stand up and leave, but then she caught his eyes. The silent message was there in his dark eyes and her body reacted to it almost automatically.
Don’t leave, his eyes whispered.
Naya ignored his silent command and told herself that she should leave. She should get off this bar stool and go home, put the entire night behind her, and grab the special carton of cherry vanilla ice cream that was stashed in the back of her freezer, behind the smaller cartons of theoretically healthier frozen yogurt that she’d bought so that she would eat that instead of the more fattening ice cream.
Shaking her head, she pushed the man’s silent order out of her mind. He might be handsome and powerful looking, but he didn’t control her! She’d leave when she wanted to! No man was going to give her orders. She didn’t care how much bliss his eyes promised, she would not be controlled by a man! Ever!
Ignoring the tingling sensations that told her that he was still watching her, she lifted her martini to her lips and took a long sip, needing the liquid courage. She would just…
Die! The burning sensation singed the mucous membranes in her throat. She was going to die! Coughing and clutching the edge of the bar, she gasped for breath as the heat of the martini poured through her. It took several moments for her to get her breath back. When she could open her eyes, wiping the tears from her lashes, she looked around, refusing to glance at the man at the table. She was certain he was laughing at her.
She wasn’t going to look. No way was she looking! She was finished with men judging her and finding her lacking. She wasn’t frigid and she was fully capable of drinking a sophisticated martini.
With a gulp of air and a defiant lift of her chin, Naya brought the glass to her lips again. This time, she took a smaller sip. Thankfully, the burn was only painful, not death-inducing.
She could do this! She could manage drinking the martini and be sophisticated!
No man was going to laugh at her!
The bartender placed a glass of white wine in front of her and she blinked. It took her a moment to realize that the wine was for her and she glanced up.
“I didn’t order that,” she told him, suspecting that the wine was of a much better quality than anything she was used to. Just the color of the wine looked expensive.
“The gentleman at that table ordered it for you, ma’am,” the bartender explained and walked away.
Naya peeked at the man, her shoulders relaxing when she noticed no amusement in his handsome, rugged features.
Defiantly, she lifted the martini glass to her lips and took another sip. She wanted to cough again, but refused to give him the satisfaction. And when he simply lifted a dark eyebrow higher, questioning her stubbornness, she felt a small, silly victory.
Once again, she turned away from him and glanced down at her phone. Still no word from her friends. Boy, they were going to get an earful from her about tonight!
She should just leave, she thought.
At that moment, her phone buzzed. “On my way! Almost there. It will be nice to try out a different place.”
Naya’s shoulders slumped. So much for her speedy escape. If Ella was on her way, Naya couldn’t leave now. She typed out a reply. “Let me know when you are close and I’ll order you a drink.”
She set her phone on the bar beside her martini and took another sip. This time it wasn’t as bad. Smooth, she thought with surprise. She wouldn’t look at him, she reminded herself, placing the glass down on the granite countertop carefully, as if all of her focus was required to get the bottom of the glass perfectly centered on the small, white napkin.
Ella would arrive any minute and they would laugh over this, she told herself. They would make up silly stories about who the man was and why he was watching them. They would…
A message from Cassy came in and she looked at her phone eagerly, hoping for additional reinforcements. Alas, Cassy needed to work late. She couldn’t make it.
That’s okay, she thought. She and Ella would have a good time. Everything would be okay.
She took another long sip of her martini, still ignoring the subtle call of the refined white wine. She wasn’t giving in. She was going to be sophisticated and casual. Like she drank martinis all the time. And choked on the first sip. Yep, that was her. Just her normal routine.
The men at the table were standing up and shaking hands all around.
Unfortunately, the one man she wanted to stand up and go away, didn’t. He continued to sit there. Watching her. Now that the others had walked away, The Wolf wasn’t even trying to be subtle about watching her!
She looked over at him, the martini giving her courage, warming her from the inside out. She stared right back, boldly accepting the silent challenge in his eyes. She could handle this because Ella was close by, ready to save her and they would walk away, go have a burger somewhere, and Naya could tell her friend the whole story. Ella would clap her hands enthusiastically, because Ella did everything with an exuberance that would exhaust a normal human being, and Ella would tell Naya that she handled the situation perfectly.
In the meantime, Naya would simply stare at the man and convey that he didn’t intimidate her.
She watched as his lips curled ever so slightly. Amusement?
Oh no! She was not a joke! No way!
She lifted her glass again and took a longer sip, watching as his eyes moved from her gaze to her hand.
She put the glass back down, while keeping her gaze locked on him. Ella would be here. Any moment now. Ella would save her. All was okay because Ella would walk in at any moment and the man would know that Naya was off limits. She would come out the winner and he would walk away with his tail between his legs.
The man accepted her challenge.
Wait! No! That wasn’t the way this was supposed to play out!
Naya’s throat constricted as he stood up. Goodness, what was she supposed to do now? Where was Ella? Where was her savior? This wasn’t how this scene was supposed to play out! Ella was supposed to arrive and the two of them would…
He wasn’t supposed to pick up his own drink and walk over to her! Umm…why was he coming closer? He wasn’t playing the game properly!