No wonder I couldn’t sleep. My brain went in endless circles, flitting from thought to thought like a butterfly in a field of wildflowers.

I thought of that glimpse of him I’d gotten. He had to be at least six-four, maybe taller. Every time I’d been around him, he’d moved almost silently, his footsteps light and quick. As I’d watched him round the corner, he’d moved easily, despite his height. He’d looked lean and muscular, but not burly. I mean, this was just conjecture based on a single split-second glance, but that was my impression.

And that too worked for me. I wasn’t impressed by guys who had muscles on muscles, twenty-inch biceps and pectoral muscles bigger than my own tits—which weren’t small, by the way. If a guy was that beefed up, he’d obviously spent hours and hours in the gym. Staying in that kind of shape took dedication. Good for them, sure, great, go for it. But I wanted the guy I dated to have time for me. If he set aside three or four hours every day just to go to the gym, then that was three to four hours he didn’t have for me. Call me selfish, but I expected my boyfriends to be more dedicated to me than to their weight bench. Plus, why do you need to be that big? Do you go around lifting heavy things all day? Do you routinely need to lift a four-hundred-pound…thing? Um, probably not. What even weighs four hundred pounds that you’d come across in everyday life? I couldn’t think of a single thing.

No, give me a guy who’s in decent shape, who can hold an interesting conversation any day of the week. Give me a guy who can show me a good time without having to flex his muscles six times a minute, just to make sure they’re still there. I would want to say, Yes, buddy, you’ve still got your muscles. They didn’t go away in the last five minutes. And, no, I’m still not impressed by how much you can bench. Can you carry me to bed? Can you last long enough to make me come? Those are the important things. Get me to bed, get me off. If you can manage those things, I’ll be impressed.

This was why, at twenty-six, I was still single. Most guys didn’t pass the first-date test, much less the long-term test of holding my interest for more than a month. SportsmoviesIworkOUTlookatmymusclesI’msobuff. Shut up, I DO NOT CARE. Use the muscle in your skull, and then the one in your pants. Impress me with your vocabulary, and then your sexual attentiveness. See, that was the other thing. I didn’t really need a guy to be able to go for hours and hours. That got boring real f**king fast. Heh, that’s punny. No, for real, though. I’d rather come fast and come hard than be f**ked for hours on end. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved sex. It was great. But hours of it? Probably not. Figure out what makes me moan, and do that until I come. I guarantee, if you did that, you’d come, too. That was just how it worked. Me, and probably most other women, I’d wager. Except, most guys didn’t seem to get that. They seemed to think harder, faster, and longer meant better when, in reality, that was very often not the case.

Mystery man?

Holy shit. He could turn me on with mere words. A whisper in my ear. A touch to my cheek. A kiss to my jaw. He had me squirming and wet and aching at dinner, and he only kissed me, fairly chaste kisses at that. No tongue, no heavy petting. My clothes stayed on, and in place. Shit, he turned me on more with a few kisses to my hand and arm than any other guy had managed in an entire night of full-on sex. It wasn’t hard to make me hot and horny, nor was it hard to make me come. I was…average, I’d think. I didn’t have a hair trigger, and I rarely came more than once. But if you paid attention to my signals, you could get me off pretty easily.

What happened at dinner?

Unreal. Just…totally unreal.

I got out of bed, dressed in a T-shirt and underwear, and paced the living room, my thoughts racing. I ached. Deep down, between my legs. He’d made me hot, and he’d left me hanging. I didn’t like that. I wasn’t in some kind of sexual frenzy, just…mildly frustrated. Left curious, wondering, needing more.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I left my room and wandered toward the kitchens. I didn’t bother dressing, since only Eliza would be around to see me, assuming she was still awake. Mystery Man—God, I really needed to find out his name—had said he’d be in his private quarters.


Really? Private quarters? Who says that anymore? The dirty-minded teenager in me wanted to make a joke about it. When faced with situations that I had a hard time dealing with, my go-to reaction was humor, usually bawdy and inappropriate.

After a few wrong turns, I found the industrial kitchen, gaping and echoing and dark. An eight-burner Wolf gas range with an expansive, gleaming hood vent, double Wolf ovens, an unlit stone pizza oven with a long-handled paddle leaning against the wall, a wide island with a white cutting board running in front of a bank of closed, silver-topped, refrigerated containers. This was a restaurant kitchen, done in luxury-grade. There was a walk-in refrigerator, a walk-in freezer, and a six-foot-tall wine cooler stocked with bottle after bottle of what I assumed was thousands of dollars in chilled wine. There was another freestanding refrigerator dedicated to nothing but beer: Stella Artois, Newcastle, Smithwicks, Guinness, Harp, Yuengling, Duvel, Chimay…every kind of beer you could imagine except cheap domestic. No Bud Light or Coors here. I probably shouldn’t tell him I rarely drank anything but Bud Light. That was due more to budgetary restrictions than taste preference, but still.

I chose a Harp, rummaged through half a dozen drawers until I found a bottle opener. I wandered, beer in hand, until I found the breakfast nook. I stood with my nose near the glass, staring out at the still-bustling city.

I smelled him before I heard him. Honestly, I don’t think I ever really did hear him approach. I smelled his cologne, felt him behind me.

“Don’t turn around,” he murmured.

“I won’t.” The room behind us was dark, so there was no reflection of him in the window. An admission burbled up and out; I had to know what he would do. This was my test for him. “I peeked, earlier. You were going around the corner. You’re really tall, and you have blond hair.”

There was a long, significant hesitation before he responded. “Why did you tell me? I wouldn’t have ever known.”

I shrugged, swallowed a mouthful of beer. “I don’t know.” A lie, but I couldn’t very well tell him my real reason for spilling the truth.

“Hmmm.” I heard liquid glug in a bottle neck, and deduced he was drinking beer as well. “You shouldn’t have peeked, Kyrie.”