Okay, that was a total lie. She stood there pretending to get her bearings while her gaze sought out the bar and the guys behind it.
There were two of them working tonight. Twenty-two-year-old Sean was flipping bottles, juggling them to the catcalls and wild amusement of a group of women all belly up to the bar, wooing them with his wide smile and laughing eyes. But he wasn’t the one Pru’s gaze gravitated to like he was a rack of double-stuffed Oreo cookies.
Nope, that honor went to the guy who ran the place, Sean’s older brother. All lean muscle and easy confidence, Finn O’Riley wasn’t pandering to the crowd. He never did. He moved quickly and efficiently without show, quietly hustling to fill the orders, keeping an eye on the kitchen, as always steady as a rock under pressure, doing all the real work.
Pru could watch him all day. It was his hands, she’d decided, they were constantly moving with expert precision. He was busy, way too busy for her, of course, which was only one of the many reasons why she hadn’t allowed herself to fantasize about him doing deliciously naughty, wicked things to her in her bed.
Whoops. That was another big fat lie.
She’d totally fantasized about him doing deliciously naughty, wicked things to her in bed. And also out of it.
He was her unicorn.
He bent low behind the bar for something and an entire row of women seated on the barstools leaned in unison for a better view. Meerkats on parade.
When he straightened a few seconds later, he was hoisting a huge crate of something, maybe clean glasses, and not looking like he was straining too much either. This was in no doubt thanks to all that lean, hard muscle visible beneath his black tee and faded jeans. His biceps bulged as he turned, allowing her to see that his Levi’s fit him perfectly, front and back.
If he noticed his avid audience, he gave no hint of it. He merely set the crate down on the counter, and ignoring the women ogling him, nodded a silent hello in Pru’s direction.
She stilled and then craned her neck, looking behind her.
No one there. Just herself, dripping all over his floor.
She turned back and found Finn looking quietly amused. Their gazes locked and held for a long beat, like maybe he was taking her pulse from across the room, absorbing the fact that she was drenched and breathless. The corners of his mouth twitched. She’d amused him again.
People shifted between them. The place was crowded as always, but when the way was clear again, Finn was still looking at her, steady and unblinking, those dark green eyes flickering with something other than amusement now, something that began to warm her from the inside out.
Three weeks and it was the same every single time . . .
Pru considered herself fairly brave and maybe a little more than fairly adventurous—but not necessarily forward. It wasn’t easy for her to connect with people.
Which was the only excuse she had for jerking her gaze away, pretending to eye the room.
The pub itself was small and cozy. One half bar, the other half pub designated for dining, the décor was dark woods reminiscent of an old thatched inn. The tables were made from whiskey barrels and the bar itself had been crafted out of repurposed longhouse-style doors. The hanging brass lantern lights and stained-glass fixtures along with the horse-chewed, old-fence baseboards finished the look that said antique charm and friendly warmth.
Music drifted out of invisible speakers, casting a jovial mood, but not too loud so as to make conversation difficult. There was a wall of windows and also a rack of accordion wood and glass doors that opened the pub on both sides, one to the courtyard, the other to the street, giving a view down the hill to the beautiful Fort Mason Park and Marina Green, and the Golden Gate Bridge behind that.
All of which was fascinating, but not nearly as fascinating as Finn himself, which meant that her eyes, the traitors, swiveled right back to him.
He pointed at her.
“Me?” she asked, even though he couldn’t possibly hear her from across the place.
With a barely there smile, he gave her a finger crook.
Pru’s brain wondered what her mom would’ve said about going to a man who crooked his finger at her. But Pru’s feet didn’t care, they simply took her right to him.
He handed her a clean towel to dry off. Their fingers brushed, sending a tingle straight through her. While she enjoyed that—hey, it was the most action she’d gotten in a very long time—he cleared her a seat.
“What can I get you?” His voice was low and gravelly, bringing to mind all sorts of inappropriate responses to his question.