Starting up the PowerPoint deck, I cleared my throat, and reminded myself that I knew this material. I was prepared, organized, and all variables were accounted for. Any possible scenario that could disrupt the lecture had been thought of and a plan of action in place. From a student randomly vomiting to a surprise fire alarm, I had a solution for it all. Having control, or at least the illusion of it, gave me a sense of peace.
I began the lecture, feeling more confident by the minute. Midway through, I glanced up from the presentation to look at the crowd. My blood pressure spiked and my palms went sweaty.
Standing in the doorway of the upper corner entry was Mr. GQ.
With the lights off, it was hard to make out every detail of his handsome face, but those wild baby blues were bright against the darkness. He slid into the back row near the door and simply stared at me.
My throat went dry and my whole body shook. I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear—then untucked it. I forced myself to concentrate and continue.
Damn it. He was a variable I hadn’t counted on. Taking in a gulp of air, I prepared for the flood of anxiety to rush over me.
But it didn’t.
His eyes were intense, his demeanor so fluid and calming I could drink from it. What he made me feel wasn’t fear, it was awe. He radiated power and control and with every stolen glance at him, I felt stronger. Simply being in his presence made me feel secure, but the explanation for such a feeling was eluding me.
The next thirty minutes dragged by and though I didn’t have a nervous breakdown, my heart rate stayed above ninety. His eyes never left mine and I felt the heat behind every gaze. Ignoring him was a lesson in improbability—one I failed miserably.
When the students left, he walked down the steps toward the front of the room where I stood.
“Hi.” I smiled, trying not to sound overly anxious. “What are you doing here?” My tone was accidently harsh, but damn it, my whole body was buzzing like I had been running a marathon for the last hour.
His tone however didn’t falter. “I’m learning about sociology.”
His eyes skated over me and I fought the instinct to cross my arms over my chest and huddle into a ball. Appearing small and meek was a great way to avoid confrontation. But standing in front of this man, I found myself wanting to be noticed. Instead of cowering, I straightened my stance and smiled.
He was in a black suit and tie with a crisp white shirt underneath. Just as striking as I remembered. I grinned when I noticed his five o’clock shadow and couldn’t help glancing at the clock. It appeared I had been right about that.
“Is something amusing you?” he asked.
“Yes.” Maybe it was the adrenaline or the fact that I was coming down from it, but I couldn’t suppress the sheer joy that was rising in my gut. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had been certain I’d never see him again. But he was here. This was my chance. My makeover moment.
“Did you like the blouse?”
“Yes. Thank you. It really wasn’t necessary, though. I would have returned it to you—”
“Why would you give back something you like?”
The words caught in my throat. I stood there once again at a disadvantage, and I needed to rectify that. Licking my lips, I rallied my courage, and mentally chanted: Coffee dates aren’t scary. You can do this. Will do this. Just ask his name, then ask him out.
“What is your name?”
Damn. Even his name sounded sexy— “Wait. Kinkade? Like Kinkade Enterprises down the street?” I walked past the tall glass skyscraper every day on my way to and from the university.
Kinkade was a name associated with wealth and God knew what else, but I’d never imagined the man before me to be that Adam Kinkade. I was replaying how we’d met when reality hit hard. Every ounce of confidence I had called on instantly disappeared. He was a wealthy, well-known businessman, which was obviously why he was here: Business, not pleasure. Not a cup of coffee.
I glanced at my feet. “Look, you don’t have to worry about me suing you or insurance or anything, if that’s why you’re here.”
He cocked his head. “You walked in front of my car.”
“Well…yeah…but if that’s what you’re concerned about, then—”
“I’m not concerned. I have an excellent legal team.”
My heart raced. “So you’re suing me?”
“You seem really worried about this idea of a lawsuit.”
My eyes had to look like saucers. I might not be super rich or highbrow, but I wasn’t stupid and I knew when I was being jerked around. “Your cryptic answers are really starting to bother me.”
He smirked. “Cryptic?”
“Yes. Like repeating everything I say so you don’t have to answer a question.”
“I answered your questions. You just didn’t like my answers. I can hardly be blamed for that.”
The urge to scream became overwhelming. This infuriating—sexy—man was messing with my emotions and seemed to be entertained by it. “Why are you here, Adam?”
“To ask you to dinner.”
“But that’s an entire meal…” I mumbled, then clamped my hand over my lips, making a mental note to think before speaking.
The corner of his mouth turned up. “Indeed it is.”
“I just…I was thinking more along the lines of coffee.” Was I interested in dining with him? Maybe. Yes. Well…sort of. I just hadn’t mentally prepared myself for that. One warm beverage was a baby step while food was a frickin leap.
“We can get coffee after dinner.” The flicker of unease quickly dissipated when I got lost in Adam’s rough voice and contagious grin. Before I could say anything more, Brian and Megan walked in.
“Hey, Kate. How was your first day?” Megan’s words trailed off as she and Brian descended the steps toward me. Her stare zeroed in on Adam and she instantly flushed. I couldn’t really blame her for that, though. The man was a masterpiece.
Brian came to stand right next to me. He glared at Adam. But what concerned me more was the look Adam was giving Brian. His face appeared calm, but his eyes blazed like those of a poisonous snake ready to strike.
“I’m so sorry, we didn’t mean to interrupt,” Megan said, tugging on Brian’s arm. He didn’t move.
“Adam, this is Megan and Brian.” Apparently no one cared for my attempt at a polite introduction because neither man acknowledged the other. This must be was a pissing contest looked like. I just couldn’t figure out why the two men seemed to have a problem with each other. Brian was protective of me, but this was ridiculous.