Unfortunately, the only staring happening was on his part. Why did it have to be someone so hot who witnessed my face sucking of shame? And as if he could read my thoughts through my gaze, he laughed harder.

I tore myself away from Tamás and put my hand up to keep him from following me.

“Bathroom!” I blurted.

The word meant nothing to him, so he reached for me again.

“Eh-eh!” I gave him the Heisman and tried, “Toilet?”

His brow furrowed, and he held a hand to his ear. So I yelled louder, “Toilet!”

The volume didn’t help, but it did make a dozen or so people around us who obviously spoke English stop and gawk at me. And my traitorous eyes found the guy across the room. If he laughed any harder, he was going to pop a lung.

Damn it.

I guessed he didn’t have any issues understanding my English.

I turned and fled, probably only exponentially increasing the size of the scene I’d just made, but I was only focused on washing away the embarrassment with another drink.

I tried to walk over the rubble pile that led back to the bar, but the ground kept moving, and I felt a million miles tall in these heels. Tipsier than I realized, I blinked, trying to bring the world back into focus. I had to bend and balance my hand on a chunk of concrete to keep from toppling over.


“What? No more locals around to carry you?”

I turned my head to the side, and my worst fears came true.

Soldier Smolder. He was even more gorgeous up close, which was only magnified by his deep voice. And from the sound of it, he was American, too. The look on his face was part teasing–part condescending, but his eyes still had my organs doing somersaults.

Or . . . that could have been the alcohol.

Both. Let’s go with both.

“I don’t need anyone to carry me. I’m perfectly—whoa.”

I tried to straighten up, but my ankle twisted and the world went a little topsy-turvy. In what seemed like fast-forward, I went from standing to sitting on the rubble in the blink of an eye, the heels of my hands scraped raw from the rough concrete. I was still trying to figure out if I was moving at lightning speed, or if the world was moving really slowly, when suddenly—I was flying.

My vision filled with a strong jaw that gave way to soft, full lips. And then eyes so piercing, they reminded me of growing up in church and feeling certain that somewhere out there was a God that was watching, and could see everything I didn’t want him to see.

“You remind me of God, “I mumbled, then immediately wished I could suck those words back into my mouth.

He laughed. “Well, that’s a new one for me.”

“I meant . . .” I don’t know what I meant. God, I was drunk. “Let me down. I don’t need anyone to carry me.”

He spoke, and I felt his low voice vibrate from his chest into mine. “I don’t care what you think you need.”

Story of my life. I loved men as much as the next girl, but why was it that they always seemed to think they knew better?

I rolled my eyes and said, “Fine, carry me all night. Works for me.”

I leaned my head on his shoulder and snuggled up against his chest to get comfortable. I was just curling my hand around the back of his neck when he plopped my feet down on the ground, on the other side of the rubble. I winced, pain jolting up from my ankles to my knees from the hard landing.

Sigh. I should have kept my smart mouth shut. I pretended like I wasn’t disappointed, shrugged, and turned toward the bar. He appeared in front of me so fast, and my reflexes were so slow, that I barely managed to keep from face-planting into his pecs.

Wait . . . Why was I trying to keep from doing that?

He said, “What? No thank-you?”

I leveled him with a stare, feeling more sober than I had a few moments ago. “I’m not in the habit of thanking people who do things to me against my will. So, if you don’t mind—”

I pushed past him and flagged down the bartender, who thankfully spoke English. I asked for tequila and took a seat on a barstool.

“Give her a water, too,” my stalker added, sitting down beside me.

I eyed him. Hot, he was definitely hot. But I’d never met a guy in a bar who tried to get me less drunk. That somehow made it harder to trust him.

Twisted, I know. But I had learned a long time ago that if you didn’t figure out what people wanted from you at the beginning, it would come back to bite you in the ass later. Plus, if I was reading the tension in his jaw correctly, he was angry, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he was sitting there beside me if I annoyed him so much.

I said, “You’re awfully pushy, stranger.”

And kind of dangerous. Who knew stranger-danger could be so hot?

“You’re awfully drunk, princess.”

I laughed. “Honey, I’m barely getting started. When I start talking about how I can’t feel my cheeks and get a little touchy-feely, then you’ll know I’m awfully drunk.”

His eyebrow raised when I said touchy-feely, but he didn’t comment. My shot arrived, along with a cup of water. I glared at the latter, pushing it away from me, then grabbed my shot.

This trip was about adventure, about living life with no baggage and no strings and no thought. Only now. It definitely wasn’t about drinking water.

I tipped back the shot.


For a few seconds, the warmth settled in my middle, grounding me. I was beginning to get used to the lemon slices, sweeter than limes, but the sour taste still gave a tiny jolt on my tongue. I signaled for another, but my tagalong’s deep voice sliced through the lovely haze I was building.

“If you’re trying to drink away the memory of that kiss on the dance floor, I doubt it will work. That’s the kind of kiss that sticks with you.”

Cringing, I said, “You don’t have to tell me that.”

I wiped at my cheek again even though the slobber was long gone.

The cup of water slid back in front of me, pushed by his forefinger. I squinted up at him. His dark eyes were steel gray, hardened. But there was a hint of a smile in his gaze that was nowhere to be found on his mouth.

And a fascinating mouth it was.

I said, “You know, you could always help me find another way to erase the memory of that bad kiss.” He turned and leaned his back against the bar. His arm brushed mine, and I shivered. So, he was a bit on the aggravating side, but he was also big and warm and masculine, and, hell, I didn’t need to list anything else. I was already sold. My body didn’t so much care about what kind of tension was between us. Tension was tension.

He kept his eyes fixed coolly on the dance floor across the room. With that strong, stubbled jaw and those delicious muscles, he was the epitome of tall, dark, and dangerous.

My vocabulary narrowed to one word: yum.

He said, “I could do that . . . ,” glancing sideways at me.

Oh, please. Let’s please do that.

“But it’s so much more fun to keep picturing the look on your face as it was happening.”

Damn it.

His shoulders bounced in a silent chuckle. Great. Now he was laughing at me again.

I let my arm brush his and said, “I can think of a few things that would be more fun.”

He stopped laughing. His eyes broke away from the dance floor and trailed up my body, starting with my heels. I knew there was a reason I braved these stilettos. When his gaze reached my hips, he dragged a thumb across his bottom lip, and I was ready to jump him right then. I pushed my shoulders back, and like a charm his eyes settled on my chest.


Thanks for keeping my secrets, Victoria. The grin of victory was already climbing onto my face, and then he returned his gaze to the dance floor without a comment.

What the hell?

He didn’t look at my face. He didn’t even look at my body for that long.

I was kind of offended. My girls, Marilyn and Monroe, were definitely offended.

See! This was what I meant about not trusting a guy who wanted me sober. I’d been awake too long and had too many drinks to figure out what he wanted. And though he was gorgeous (of the drop-dead variety), he was also killing my buzz. Not to mention that alcohol and insecurity were a very bad combination.

I said, “Well, this has been interesting. I better get back—”

“To the dementor out on the dance floor? Really?”

I took a few steps and threw a smile over my shoulder.

“You got a better offer?”

I’d expected the same cool once-over. Instead, his eyes blazed, and his jaw tensed. He leaned away from the bar like he was going to follow me. My steps stuttered, and something fluttered in my belly. I almost threw myself at him. Almost.

He wasn’t nearly as uninterested as he wanted me to believe, and that was what made him interesting. I bit my lip and had the satisfaction of watching his eyes zone in on my mouth.

Smiling, I stepped back toward him and leaned in until our chests brushed. His head tipped down toward mine, and though his expression was carefully blank, I saw his Adam’s apple bob once and then again as he swallowed.

I braced a hand on his hard chest as I reached for the forgotten cup of water behind him. I bit my lip to keep from smiling too wide as I pulled the cup between us. Tilting my head to the side, I looked up at him as I wrapped my lips around the straw and took a long drink.

He cleared his throat, his gaze fixed on my mouth. Excitement seized low in my belly. “Let me know if you change your mind,” I said.

I turned and flounced back to the dance floor, my hips swinging a little more than usual. I made it over the rubble alone this time, though I had to be very cautious and careful about where I put my feet. It wasn’t until I was standing back on the dance floor and saw Tamás, the terrible kisser, that I regretted my killer exit.

So when I spotted István, I made a beeline.

Tamás was officially no longer on my to-do list.

I looped my arms around István’s neck and spun so that he was stationed between me and droolboy. I didn’t even make it a few seconds before I found my thoughts once again drawn to my friend at the bar. His eyes lanced through me.

Yeah, he was definitely interested.

I smiled and took another sip of my water.

Time for a little show.

With my eyes on Dark and Dangerous, I ran a hand down István’s chest. I shook out my fair curls and pressed myself closer to him. I twisted and wound my body around his, putting a little extra intensity into my movement for my audience.

From here, I could see the way his fist clenched on the bar.

I leaned my back against István’s chest and faced my real target. Running a hand down my body, I shot him a sly smile.

This was going to be a piece of cake.

One of István’s hands slid around my waist to my abdomen, and I dropped my head back on his shoulder. My eyes fluttered closed, and my lids were almost too heavy to lift again. My muscles tingled pleasantly.

There was that buzz again. Hallelujah. The tequila was kicking in.

This . . . this was how I wanted to feel all the time. Set adrift, no longer tethered to the earth and her demands and troubles. I wanted to float out to sea, drift out to space, forget who I was.

It was perfect.

But I could think of one way it could be better. I opened my eyes, and had to blink away the blur before I could focus on the bar.

Dark and Dangerous wasn’t there.

I looked back to the wall where I’d first spotted him, but he wasn’t there either. I searched for his broad shoulders and his olive skin, but couldn’t see him anywhere. He’d vanished into the crowd, taking tonight’s most interesting option with him.

Damn it. I’d played too hard to get. I should have just jumped him as soon as I saw his interest at the bar.

I frowned and fought off my disappointment. I tried to settle back against István, but suddenly the heat from his hands on my hips and his breath against my shoulder felt much less exciting. I took a deep breath, stretched my neck, and turned to face him.

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