I decided against opening up, though. I barely knew this girl, and the last thing I wanted was to bare my soul to a sexy stranger passing through. A subject change was needed.
“So . . . how exactly did you end up here?”
“Long story,” she said with a sigh.
“I’ve got no place to be.”
“Well . . .”
I could see her hesitation in revealing her reasons, which only made me want to know more.
“I’m on my way to LA,” she finally said. “I’m moving in with a friend.”
“A girl that’s a friend. Valentina.”
“Okay.” I could hear the relief in my own voice. “New York girl moves to LA. That’s a big move. You running from something?”
“The law,” she said plainly, causing me to nearly choke on the water I’d just drank.
Her lips twitched. “I shot a man in Reno.”
When I realized she was yanking my chain, I was relieved and more than a little turned on by the girl’s wit. New Yorkers were pegged as being street smart, but this one didn’t miss a beat, so I played along.
“Just to watch him die?”
“You know my story?” She chuckled, and I laughed along with her.
“I’m familiar. Johnny Cash is a favorite around here. I’m surprised you know who he is.”
She grinned. “Even New York isn’t immune to a little country charm.”
That’s what I was hoping. She wanted country charm, and I had it in spades. Hell, truckloads. I’d turn it up and get exactly what I wanted from her.
“I just need a fresh start,” she said, confessing as much as I thought I was going to get out of her that night.
Whatever she was leaving behind in New York wasn’t something she was ready to talk about, which was fine by me. When I’d walked over here, I was aiming for simple and easy. Too much talk of the past might lead someplace I didn’t think either of us were looking to end up.
“Fresh starts are good. I’ve needed a couple in my life.” The urge to clear up the bad blood between us was weighing on me. Seemed like as good a time as any. “Maybe we get one? I might not have made the best first impression.”
“Me either,” she admitted. “I was a jerk too. I promise I’m not a complete asshole.”
“Same here. All is forgiven.”
The truth was, seeing her sitting there with her kissable lips and a look of vulnerability that I hadn’t seen from her yet, I would have pardoned her for actually shooting a man in Reno.
“To fresh starts,” she said, raising her glass of water.
“To fresh starts.” I nodded and clinked my glass against hers, grinning back at her. “So, about what you mentioned yesterday, a marketing degree from Yale.”
“What about it?”
“Any chance I could convince you to use it to help me out?”
The cutest little line formed between her brows as she processed what I was saying.
“See, I’ve got this fantastic whiskey that needs selling, and I’m about as useless as tits on a nun when it comes to social media and all that shit.”
She giggled. “Are you asking me to help you market your whiskey, Luke?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“What do you want?” I teased, letting our stare linger for a few seconds. I would have given my left arm for her to say something along the lines of I want you to fuck my brains out. Especially when she ran the tip of her tongue over her lips as she thought.
“What do you have to offer?” she said, shifting a little in her seat.
As much as she was getting to me, I could see that she was feeling it too. The sexual tension. The heat. The chemistry. It was undeniable.
“I can think of a few things.” I rested my forearms on the table and leaned closer. The sweet smell of her expensive perfume was intoxicating.
“Well . . .” She leaned forward, mirroring my position, and it took a lot of willpower not to toss the table between us across the room. “I can think of one thing,” she said softly, drawing me in even more. “I’d really like that car part you said your buddy could ship from Austin.”
“You got it,” I mustered up, drowning out the lust that was about to rip me in two. Never in my life had a woman riled me up the way this one did. My dick was so hard, I could have used it to pound nails, and all we’d done was sit here and talk tonight.
“Good,” she said with a huge grin. “You’ve got a deal.”
Two hours later, Luke and I stood in the parking lot of the bar. I leaned against the side of his big black truck as I watched him, my lips turned up in a smile.
“Turns out you’re not so bad,” he said, his mouth twitching as he watched me.
“That so?” I placed a hand on my hip.
Leaning closer, he tucked a stray lock of hair behind my ear and shrugged. “When you’re not running your mouth, you can be downright tolerable.”
When his full lips blossomed into a wide smile, something inside me zinged. Laughing, I shook my head.
We’d spent the evening talking, eating pizza, and sipping on whiskey. I felt relaxed and loose. All my worries had taken a back seat to this gorgeous man with his cocky personality and mega-white smile.
Luke couldn’t seem to stop touching me—his hand at my lower back as he led me from the bar, the way he rose to his feet and helped me from my bar stool when I needed to use the restroom, and now, his fingertips grazing my bare arms and then touching my hair. His attention was dizzying, because I wasn’t used to forward men.
Well, that wasn’t true. I was used to men who were forward with their self-accolades. Bragging about how much money they’d made in the stock market, about their Fifth Avenue address or their job title. Those were things I was used to.
Luke was the complete opposite. I wasn’t used to a man who had nothing to offer but himself and yet gave it so freely—letting his interest be known, to hell with the consequences. Because the two of us? We made absolutely no sense. I would be leaving soon, and I had a feeling he would live out his life here and die in the same place he’d been born.
We couldn’t be more different, but our bodies didn’t care. The chemistry zipping between us fueled an attraction that grew with every barb we lobbed at each other. He was fun and challenging in a way that was entirely new.
“When you feed me whiskey all night, what did you expect? I tend to lose my filter,” I said, lifting my chin.
“I did feed you more than whiskey. I wasn’t a complete asshole tonight.”
I nodded, remembering the pizza we’d shared. “For once.”
His mouth twitched again. “I kinda like you when you’re full of whiskey, duchess.”
That damn nickname again.
He winked at me, and I almost melted into a puddle right there in the dusty gravel parking lot. For the longest time, we stayed like that—our eyes locked together, our hips lined up, his hand at my waist . . .
Are you gonna kiss me, or what?
I didn’t have to wonder any longer. Luke’s gaze darkened and he lowered his head toward mine. I lifted onto my toes, needing to close the distance between us fast. He took my mouth with a soft kiss and I immediately responded, parting my lips. His tongue moved against mine in deep, drugging kisses that made my toes curl in my sneakers.
Damn, the man could kiss.
Turned out his truck wasn’t his only big possession. To my whiskey-soaked brain, it felt like a massive steel rod was tucked inside his jeans. Jesus, he was hung.
Come to Mama.
An older man headed to his car whistled at us. “Looks like somebody’s gettin’ lucky tonight.”
Luke cursed under his breath and grabbed my hand. “People in this town are fuckin’ nosy. Come on.”
Inside the cab of his truck, the scent of oil, leather, and whiskey created a warm, cozy atmosphere.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“I’m driving you back to the inn.”
Disappointment flashed through me. Damn. So, we weren’t going back to his place for wild sex.