A one-night stand only left you feeling empty when you expected more, and I wasn’t expecting anything beyond a really happy smile on my face from this. To be honest, I hadn’t once in my life wanted anything more from a guy except the required things, like mutual respect, safety, and sometimes, friendship.
I’d never been in love.
Not that I didn’t believe in it. Oh, I so did. But I wanted the kind of love my parents had shared for one another—that everlasting, to the end, kind of love, and I had yet to get anywhere close to experiencing it.
And until I did, I had no problem sampling along the way. I mean, would you buy a car without test-driving it? Didn’t think so. I giggled at myself.
I pulled the jeans back on, left my feet bare and settled on a cami with a built-in bra. Leaving my hair down, I padded back into the kitchen, snatching a lighter off the counter. I lit the candle I’d placed on the end table. Pumpkin spice filled the air as I walked back to the kitchen, placing the lighter in the basket.
A loud engine rumbled outside, and I whirled around, glancing at the clock on the stove. Fifteen past one. Could it be him already? I dashed over to the large window and oh so carefully peeled back the curtain and peered outside, like a total creeper.
“Hot damn,” I whispered.
It was Nick.
It was Nick on a motorcycle.
I remembered seeing it parked outside Thursday but had totally forgotten about it. He’d parked right outside, near the front, and as he stepped off the bike, he tugged his helmet off. One arm went up and he scrubbed his fingers through his hair. I watched as he turned to the back, behind the seat. He started to lift something and that’s when I forced myself to turn away from the window.
Pivoting around, I took a deep breath and waited while my heart rate kicked up, doing a tap dance in my chest. Less than a minute later there was a knock at the door. Slowing down my steps, I went to the door and peered out through the peephole just to make sure it was him before I opened it.
“Hey,” he greeted me, his lips curling up. A blue plastic bag dangled from one hand and a helmet was shoved under his other arm.
I stepped back. “You said twenty after.”
He followed me, nudging the door shut behind him with his booted foot. “Or less. You’re forgetting that part.”
“Ah, I am.”
Nick lifted the bag as he strode past me, into the kitchen. “Brought us something.” He placed the bag down on the counter and reached in, pulling out two bottles. “Got an opener?”
Flipping on the overhead lights, I went to the drawer near the stove and pulled out an opener. “Apple ale? I like that. How’d you guess?”
He took the opener from me and flipped off the lids with expertise. “I figured you’d like something sweet.” He offered a bottle.
The glass was cool against my palm. “I also like it hard. . . .” His gaze cut to me, and I grinned. “My drinks, that is.”
Nick chuckled. “You seriously just said that?”
“I seriously did.” I grinned as I lifted the bottle to my mouth, taking a small sip.
He shrugged off his leather jacket, tossing it on the counter beside the bag. “I think I like you.”
“You need to remove ‘think’ from that statement,” I told him. “For it to be accurate.”
Another rough chuckle rolled out of him as he picked up his bottle. “Well, since we’re being completely honest with one another, I wasn’t really hopeful when it came to you showing up at the bar.”
I raised a brow as I lowered my bottle. “Oh really?”
“Yep.” His throat worked on the drink he took. “I knew you’d show up. It was inevitable.”
“Inevitable?” I repeated. “That’s a pretty powerful word.”
His heavy gaze met mine, and the twisty motion in me returned with a vengeance. “It’s the truth.”
“You’re a cocky bastard, aren’t you?”
“And you’re a cocky chick?”
I laughed then as I leaned against the counter, across from him. “Maybe.”
“I like it. I can tell you’re the kind of person who doesn’t play games.”
Nursing my drink, I crossed my legs at the ankles. “And you can tell this already?”
He nodded. “The moment your eyes met mine yesterday, I could tell you were the type of girl who knows she fucking stops traffic just by walking outside. You own it. There isn’t a single bashful or coy bone or muscle in your body.”
“And you could tell that just by looking in my eyes?” I snorted.
“Actually, I could tell that by those tiny ass shorts you had on yesterday,” he remarked, surprising me. “There is not a single female out there with legs as long as yours who doesn’t know that every guy they come into contact with is picturing them wrapped around their waist.”
I blinked, knocked off my game once more with him. A moment passed before I recovered. “So, you like my shorts?”
“I fucking loved those shorts.” He grinned as he lifted the bottle to his mouth.
Perhaps I should have worn them instead. “Well, it seems like you got me all figured out after two brief conversations, and here I am, not nearly as observant as you. I don’t know anything about you.”
“Not true,” he chided softly. “You know my first and last name. And where I work.”
“Wow. I could totally do a bio on you now.” I watched his lips twitch into a half grin again. “How about we play a game? A question for a question.”
He tilted his head to the side, lips pursed. “I think I can do that. Ladies first.”
Brushing my hair off my shoulder, I took another drink. “How old are you?”
“You’re still a baby then.”
He frowned. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-three,” I replied.
“What?” he laughed, the skin crinkling around his eyes. “That makes no sense.” He paused. “Unless older guys are normally your thing or something?”
I tsked softly. “It’s not your turn to ask a question. It’s mine. Have you lived here your whole life?”
“On and off. I was born near here.” His eyes glittered. “Answer my question.”
“Older guys aren’t typically my thing, but I don’t think I have a ‘thing,’ to be honest.”
“Equal opportunity player then?”
“I don’t think you understand how this game works, Nick.”
He smirked. “My bad.”
“Did you go to college or are you in college?” I asked.
Nick arched a brow. “Isn’t that two questions?”
“Oh, you got me. Pick one then.”
His chin dipped. “I did go to college. Is this your first time living away from home?”
I took a drink as I watched his thumb move along the bottle. “I lived in the dorm while I was at school, but this is the first time I’ve lived out of state. So, did you graduate?”
He nodded. “I did.”
The question formed on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to know why he was bartending. I was curious, but not in a judgy way, because there was nothing wrong with bartending. He’d probably made more money than I did, but I pushed the question down. That was too . . . personal for me. Tapping my finger on the bottle, I searched for a good one. “What’s your favorite hobby?”