I don’t usually dress like this. I don’t wear short black leather skirts and matching tops that most people would consider to be from the ‘sluts-are-us’ store. I don’t wear heels that are so high that they add four inches to my five-four frame.
But, tonight is different.
Tonight, my friend Keri Henson and I are headed out to a bar. I just broke up with my boyfriend—trust me, no great loss, but still; it’s made me a little down. Okay, I’m a lot down, but I’ll get over it.
Keri had insisted that I wash my hair and leave it to fall in dark sable waves to my waist. Her “You have sexy hair, Hailey” had actually made me blush. I always control the wavy mess with a French braid, but to keep her happy, and to keep her from harping on me, I let it flow freely.
We took a cab. Neither of us was going to risk a DUI, and we both figured the least we could do is drink—a lot. Of course, Keri had fond hopes of finding a man to take her home. I wasn’t so sure that was my plan for the evening. In fact, I was pretty darn sure it wasn’t. One night stands? Just not my thing.
Now, here we sat in a bar named Low Down. What kind of a name is that for a bar? Oh well, I guess it beats sitting at home or going to McDonald’s again. Keri looks hot. There was no other word to describe it. She has gorgeous black hair, and to complement it, she decided to wear a red mini-skirt and a leather halter top. Her breasts, at least a cup bigger than mine, are damn near spilling out at the sides. Definitely a ‘sluts-are-us’ outfit, but what the hell.
“So, what do we do now?” I asked.
Keri gave me a look that only a best friend could interpret. “We sit here until one of the hunks across the bar buys us a drink,” she explained patiently, as if she were speaking to a five-year-old. “And we smile.”
I rolled my hazel eyes, but I did put a patently fake smile on my face. “If you say so,” I muttered, not at all convinced. I just wasn’t into the bar scene and never had been. I’d met my ex-boyfriend Kevin in high school. Lord that was ten long years ago. Where had the time gone? We’d been living together for eight years—until I came home from work sick one day and found him screwing my friend Felecia. Make that ex-friend. She’s welcome to him, I thought grimly. He sucked in bed anyway. Well, at least things I’d read said that he’d sucked in bed. He’s the only one I’d ever gone to bed with. I’m not exactly the party-girl type, although no one would guess that by looking at the outfit Keri talked me into tonight.
So, here we sat in a loud dark bar, with lousy rock music, and way too much cigarette smoke. Smoke is hell on my asthma. I mentally did a check, trying to remember if I’d remembered my inhaler. I couldn’t remember, so I glanced in my purse. Damn it, I’d forgotten it. Why did women change perfectly normal purses for the hot little sexy ones? “Keri, I forgot my inhaler,” I said tiredly.
Keri laughed, a rich tinkling sound. I wished I could laugh like that. “You’re not going to need it. When was the last time you even used it?” she demanded.
I gave her a pointed look. “The last time you dragged me to a smoke-filled bar.”
Keri gave a long-suffering sigh. “Do we have to go back and get it?”
I shook my head. I wasn’t going to ruin her evening just because I’d been stupid. To be honest, I really didn’t want to be here anyway. “No, I’ll grab a cab and go get it. It shouldn’t take me more than half an hour.” We only lived a few miles from the bar. Keri had let me stay with her after I’d left Kevin. I stood up and glanced around. “Don’t leave,” I said. “I don’t want to come back here and be by myself.”
Keri nodded, her hair glistening in the dim lights. “I don’t plan on it. But, if Mr. Right-For-The-Night shows up, I’ll call your cell.”
“That works.” Hell, with luck, she’d find Mr. Right and I could just go home, get out of these killer heels, and watch reruns of Stargate. Wasn’t that how most women spent their Friday night?
I walked to the payphone and frowned when I saw the out of order sign on it. And, of course, there wasn’t a phonebook in sight. I didn’t have the first clue what the number was for the cab company. With any luck, there would be one around outside. I made my way to the front of the bar, wiggling through tons of people, and opened the door. I saw a few sets of eyes on me as I made my way to the door, and made a point to ignore them all. I didn’t want to pick up anyone for the night. I’d had no intentions of going home with anyone, even though I’d half toyed with the idea earlier.
The wind was cold on my bare arms and I shivered, but at least the air was fresh. I hadn’t even remembered to bring a damn wrap with me. God, this entire night was a disaster from the get-go. I really just wanted to go home and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.
Just as I was sure I’d end up having to go back in and ask for a taxi cab’s phone number, I felt a warm jacket go around my shoulders. Surprised, I looked over my shoulder.
I’m sure my mouth gaped open at the sight. Behind me stood the most beautiful specimen of man I’d seen in a long time. He was at least a foot taller than my five-four and all of it solid muscle. His grin showed a lot of even white teeth. Not a smoker, I thought idly. He had a dimple in his chin—of course, men called them clefts, but they were really dimples. “Thanks,” I said huskily in a voice I didn’t even recognize.
His eyes twinkled. “Anytime, darlin’. Who are you waiting on?”
“A cab,” I replied. “I forgot something at home.”
He studied me for a long moment. “Live far?”
I shook my head. God, he had a damn sexy voice. One of those voices that was whiskey and honey all at once. It reminded me of Rob Thomas, the singer. He has a song out called Damn, and he just purrs in it. This guy purred. Anyone who has ever heard that song would know exactly what I’m talking about. This guy purred when he talked. I was getting turned on by a voice. That had never happened before in my entire life!
“Not far, no. My friend and I took a cab here, and I forgot my asthma inhaler,” I explained. Great, Hailey, I thought a little wildly. Why don’t you tell him your whole life story? I felt heat rise in my face.
The twinkle went out of his dark brown eyes. Teddy bear eyes, I decided. They were teddy bear eyes. “You’re asthmatic?” he asked.
“Yes. Especially when I’m around cigarette smoke,” I explained. “So, I figured I’d go home and get my inhaler.”
He seemed to ponder that for a moment. “I’ll give you a ride,” he decided.
I have him a dark look. I wasn’t about to get in a car with a complete and total stranger—even if he was sexy enough to make me damp! I had a sudden thought of him driving himself inside me, and shivered again; this time with desire, not cold. His bare chest would be rubbing against my breasts, and his hands would be in my hair, or on my breasts, or teasing my…no, I wasn’t going there. But still…maybe he’d suck my nipples. Stop it! “Um, no, that’s okay,” I said a little dejectedly. Part of me wanted to say yes. A big part of me, in fact.
He smiled gently. “You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked.
“Should I?” I asked, studying him closely. Hell, I’d remember if I’d seen this guy before.
He grinned, showing me those perfect teeth again. What can I say? I’m a dental hygienist. I appreciate a good set of teeth. “Bennett Wilmont. We went to high school together.”
My mouth dropped open. I remembered Bennett Wilmont. He was a tall geeky kid with braces and glasses. But, as I studied him, I realized that it really was Bennett. “Well, hi! Wow, you’ve changed.” Brilliant, Hailey, just brilliant. Talk about the understatement of the year, though!
“A little,” he admitted with a chuckle. “I was in the Service for a few years. I worked out a lot.”
And how, I thought. He was gorgeous. His tight jeans left very little to the imagination. He was built all right. “Oh,” I said, flushing again.
He smiled and touched my cheek. “You’re cute when you blush,” he teased.
I know I blushed hotter. “Stop teasing me,” I mumbled.
He tossed back his head and laughed, then crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Would it make you feel any safer if I told you I was a cop now?” he asked in that whiskey voice.
“Are you really?” I asked, surprised. I didn’t know any cops. It sounded exciting.
He nodded. “Yeah, for a few years now, actually. But I work in Monroe, not here in Sigler. “So, how bout it? Trust me to take you for that inhaler?”
I decided quickly. What could be safer than a cop? “Sure,” I said.
Wow, how wrong can a girl be!