BREAKING ALL THE RULES
“My God, that guy is hung.”
Amused, Nina followed her friend’s gaze across the club to the man Ashley was gawking at. Tall and slim with wavy blond hair, he was wearing a black T-shirt and obscenely tight jeans. Not her type, but certainly not half bad to look at. “I doubt it.”
“Look at the size of that bulge. It couldn’t more obvious.”
Nina gave the bulge in question a passing glance. It was definitely impressive, straining against his fly so massively it was a wonder the zipper didn’t burst.
She shrugged and returned to her margarita. “I hate to break it to you, but he obviously stuffs. That’s not real.”
“How can you tell?”
“Please.” She started to tick off the reasons on her fingers. “First of all, the size of that thing is so exaggerated he looks like he was drawn by a dirty caricaturist. There’s no way it’s real. Second, if it were real, he wouldn’t be wearing pants that tight. He would be in physical pain and the jeans would be cutting off his circulation so much he wouldn’t have that thing he’s so proud of for long. And third, he wouldn’t even feel the need to wear those jeans if he was really packing. Trust me, the men who have it show it in other ways. They’re confident, cocky even, if you’ll pardon the pun. They know what they’ve got and they don’t need to prove it to anyone. The strut is proof enough. It’s the guys who don’t who feel like they have to bend over backwards proving they’ve got what it takes.”
“And how do you know all of that?”
Nina winced at the memory. “Personal experience.”
Ashley’s face drooped with disappointment. She gave the guy one last wistful look, then reached for her drink. “Boy, you really know how to take the fun out of girls’ night.”
“Hey, I paid for your drink, didn’t I?”
Ashley raised her glass in a silent toast. “I stand corrected. At the moment, this has been the most fun part of the evening. Of course, it would have been more fun if a guy had bought it for me.”
Nina couldn’t argue with her there. She sighed and took in the club with one sweeping glance. The dance floor in the middle of the room was swamped with couples. The music was fast, but most of the twosomes were moving slow, content to cling to one another, hands exploring each others’ bodies, instead of actually dancing. Along the sides of the room, everyone seemed pretty well paired up, either in lone couples or twosomes within larger groups. There didn’t seem to be an available man in sight. Even the stuffer was leering at a redhead in a miniskirt so short Nina wasn’t sure why she’d bothered with it at all.
She felt a twinge in her belly, the envy sharp and painful. She and Ashley had been so busy the last few months she’d barely had time to think straight, let alone date. They were going into business together, opening their own bake shop and café, Sweet Sensations. It had been Nina’s dream since she’d been a little girl, and now it was finally going to be a reality. Even the thought of it sent a little thrill through her. The past several months had been spent finalizing their business plan, finding a location, establishing relationships with vendors, making a thousand little decisions and dealing with all the unexpected issues that had popped up along the way.
Now everything was set. They were opening in two days. This was a night for celebrating, a chance to revel in their accomplishment before the truly hard work began. After so many sleepless nights, she should have been exhausted. Instead, she merely felt exhilarated, the adrenaline that had seen her through the last few days still pumping through her veins.
With her dream on the verge of coming true, she was ready to cut loose. This was the first chance she’d had for a night out in months—and probably her last in a while—and she’d wanted to make the most of it. It wasn’t until she got here and started witnessing all the mating rituals being enacted around her that she realized just how long it had been. Being around all these raging hormones wasn’t doing much to calm her own.
A few years back, she and Ashley might have taken to the dance floor themselves, not worried about hooking up with guys, just wanting to have fun. But that wouldn’t come close to satisfying the low ache she could feel throbbing through her. “This isn’t exactly our best night, is it?”
Ashley gave her head a rueful shake. “Why do you think I was staring at that guy? That’s about as much action as I’m going to get tonight. I was trying to enjoy it before you burst my bubble.”
“Sorry,” Nina said. “I just didn’t want to get your hopes up about somebody like that. Believe me, I’ve been there. You’re only setting yourself up for a bigger disappointment that way.”
“I don’t know why a guy would even bother to do that. He has to know it’s not something he could lie about for long. As soon as the pants come off, it’s going to be pretty obvious what he does or doesn’t have.”
Nina shrugged. “Men are foolish creatures with fragile egos. Nobody ever said they make sense.”
A loud, very male snort of derision cut her off before she could continue. More curious than annoyed, Nina turned to look behind her at the man who’d made the sound.
His closeness immediately caught her off guard. He was sitting right behind her at a table only a few feet away, close enough for her to feel his body heat. She was surprised she hadn’t felt him before. Now that she’d noticed him, his nearness was overwhelming. A rush of pure maleness filled her senses. He couldn’t have heard their conversation better if he’d been seated at their table with them. The smile curving his mouth left no doubt that he’d been listening.
She couldn’t help noticing that it was a nice smile on a very nice face, all hard angles and rugged planes. He was a big man, maybe in his mid to late twenties, with a large frame and a muscular physique. The short sleeves of his button-down shirt barely contained his biceps. Her fingers flexed of their own volition, and it was all she could do not to reach out and feel the packed muscle in just one of his arms. His dark hair was cut short, buzzed along the top and sides. He was clearly military, not exactly a rare sight in San Diego. Judging from the tattoo peeking out from his shirt sleeve, a Marine.
As she watched, his smile deepened, giving her a glimpse of perfect white teeth. She had to force herself not to return the gesture.
Instead, she arched a brow and speared him with a glare. “Were you eavesdropping on a private conversation?”
“Obviously,” he said without remorse. “I figured it wasn’t too private if you decided to have it in the middle of a bar with people sitting less than five feet away.”
The low sound of his deep voice sent a rumble through her body straight to her belly. Awareness sparked along her nerve endings. He was so unmistakably male her body couldn’t help but respond. Her recent celibacy only intensified the reaction.
She did her best to keep her response from showing on her face. “Do you often come to bars to listen in on other people’s not-so-private conversations?”
“Not usually, no, but your theories about men were so interesting I couldn’t help it.”
“I take it you have something to contribute to the conversation?”
“Just that women’s egos are more fragile than any man’s.”
Nina nearly snorted. “And how to do you figure that?”
“The way I see it, there are a lot more women walking around out there with padded bras than men with padded jocks. If anyone’s more foolish thinking they’re going to get away with tricking anyone, it’s women.”
“Women can get away with it because most of the time they don’t have to deliver the goods,” Nina retorted. “By the time a woman gets her bra off, most men are so dazzled by the sight of bare breasts it doesn’t matter what size they are. Women, on the other hand, are rarely struck dumb by a mere penis.”
“Then they obviously haven’t been looking at the right ones.”
“And I suppose you have one of those mind-blowing specimens?”
“That’s an awful personal question coming from a woman who hasn’t even given me her name.”
She hesitated only for a split second. “Nina.”
A laconic smile spread across his face, and damned if she didn’t feel a surge of heat low in her belly. Man, he had a great smile. “Bobby.”
She’d always thought that Bobby was a name for ten-year-olds with skinned knees and backward baseball caps, not a grown man like the impressive one seated next to her. But somehow it suited him. As soon as he said it, she couldn’t imagine him being called anything else.
“Would anyone care to introduce me?”
Ashley’s voice cut into Nina’s thoughts, reminding her of her friend’s presence for the first time since she’d laid eyes on the man in front of her.
“I wouldn’t mind an intro either,” another man said. Nina slid her gaze off of Bobby’s smile long enough to register that he wasn’t alone at his table either. Another military man sat on the other side, watching her with a supremely amused expression of his own. She’d been so caught up in their conversation she hadn’t even noticed him. Some part of her noted that he was good-looking, too, like a blonder, fairer version of Bobby, but he couldn’t begin to compare to his friend. Even as the thought crossed her mind, her eyes were already drifting back to Bobby.
To find that his attention had never wavered from her for a second.
The intensity in his stare sent another jolt through her and she nearly shivered.
When neither Nina nor Bobby said anything, Ashley reached across and offered her hand to the other man. “Since my friend can’t be bothered, I’ll introduce myself. I’m Ashley.”
“Matt,” he said, raising his voice to be heard above the music.
“Nice to meet you, Matt.” Ashley chuckled. “I think they’re ticked we interrupted their foreplay.”
“Then what do you say we get out of their way? You want to dance?”
“I’d love to.” She let him pull her from her seat and toward the dance floor.
Nina never took her eyes off of Bobby, though she felt a burst of relief as soon as their friends were gone. “Is that what this is?” she asked mildly. “Foreplay?”
“If we’re lucky,” he said, leaning close. “Are you feeling lucky tonight, Nina?”
“More so by the minute,” she returned with an easy grin. “So how long were you listening to our conversation anyway?”
“Long enough to know you had to pay for your own drink. Why don’t I get the next one?”
She pushed her glass away. “That’s okay. I’d better not. I have a feeling I’m going to need to stay on my toes around you.”
“I’d say the same thing about you, but I’m starting to wish I wasn’t the designated driver tonight. I think I could use something if you break out any more of your theories about men.”
“No one said you had to listen the first time.”
“I couldn’t help it. I heard the sound of your voice and I just had to know what a woman who sounded like that was saying.”
Nina rolled her eyes skyward. “Another thing I don’t like about men is that they always have some smooth line prepared that’s too corny to be believed.”
“It’s no line. I was almost scared to turn around in case you didn’t live up to your voice.”
In spite of herself, she felt herself respond to the words. “And do I?”
He lazily moved his gaze away from her face. His eyes trailed down her body, over her breasts, past her belly, and below. Little sparks shot up on her skin wherever he looked. It was all she could do not to squirm in her seat as a delicious warmth began to lick at her from the inside out.
He took his time returning that lingering gaze to her face. The appreciation darkening his eyes left no doubt to his sincerity. “You look even better than you sound.”
A little thrill shivered up her spine as she let the words wash over her. His eyes were the most amazing shade of green. She’d never seen anything like it. They sparkled like jewels in the dim light of the club. Nina suddenly felt like she could stare into them all night without getting bored, taking in everything she could read in their fascinating depths. The humor. The intelligence. The warmth.
The open, unmistakable interest. She felt another charge deep in her gut as the emotion registered, every instinct she had responding in kind.
Bobby leaned back slightly in his seat. “So tell me. Is there anything you do like about men?”
“Quite a few things actually,” she said when she managed to find her voice.
“That’s a relief. Anything you’d care to share?”
“Well…” She pretended to consider the question. “They can come in handy when I have a jar that won’t open.”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Anything else?”
She glanced down at the biceps bulging in his sleeves. “They’re also good at lifting heavy boxes.”
“Uh huh. Is that all?”
“I don’t know. I might be able to come up with a few more things if I really thought about it.”
“Maybe I could help you think of something.”
“Yes, I’m sure you could.”
This was what she’d come here for tonight. Some light flirting, a little fun. Nothing too serious. She certainly hadn’t been looking to go home with anyone.
But as she sat there staring into his eyes and felt the molten heat spreading through her body, she knew a little light flirting with this man wasn’t going to be enough.
He leaned closer, invading her space. He might as well have touched her. She felt his nearness that strongly. She took a long, deep breath. The scent of him filled her senses, heady and unmistakably male. Intoxicating. “While we’re both thinking about that, do you want to dance?”
“No,” she said automatically, without thinking, the sound little more than a whisper. Surprise flared in his eyes.
It might have been because she’d been working so hard the last few months and this was the first chance she’d had to cut loose with a guy in so long, or maybe he really was the hottest man she could ever remember meeting. Whatever the reason, he made her feel reckless and wild. Her whole body was buzzing with sensation. What she was feeling had nothing to do with logic and everything to do with pure instinct. She wanted him. No, more than that. At that moment, she needed him, perhaps more than she’d ever needed anything in her entire life.
She leaned forward in her seat, until her mouth brushed his ear. The urge to run her tongue along the outside of it was there, but the words were too important to delay. “Do you want to get out of here?”
He grinned slowly. His voice was warm and intimate, a caress she felt all the way down to her toes.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
Copyright © 2013 by Kerry Connor. All Rights Reserved.