It’s his job, her brain reminded her body. But it felt like more.
From the other side of the pub came a sound of a plate hitting the floor. Finn’s eyes tracked over there.
One of his waitresses had dropped a dish, and the table she’d been serving—a rowdy group of young guys—were cheering, embarrassing her further.
Finn easily hopped over the bar and strode over there. Pru couldn’t hear what he said but the guys at the table immediately straightened up, losing their frat boy antics mentality.
Finn then turned, crouched low next to his waitress, helped her clean up, and was back to the bar in less than sixty seconds.
“You’ve got an interesting job,” he said, coming back to their conversation like nothing had happened.
“Yes,” she said, watching as the waitress moved to the kitchen with a grateful glance in Finn’s direction. “Interesting. And fun too.” Which was incredibly important to her because . . . well, there’d been a very long stretch of time when her life hadn’t been anything close to resembling a good time.
“Fun.” Finn repeated the word like it didn’t compute. “Now there’s something I haven’t had in a while.”
Something else she already knew about him, and the thought caused a slash of regret to cut through her.
Sean came up alongside Finn. The brothers looked alike; same dark hair, same dark green eyes and smiles. Finn was taller, which didn’t stop Sean from slinging an arm around his older brother’s neck as he winked at Pru. “You’ll have to excuse grandpa here. He doesn’t do fun. You’d do better to go out with me.”
Sean O’Riley, master flirt.
But Pru was a master too, by necessity. She’d had to become well versed in dealing with charming flirts at work. It didn’t matter if it was vacationers, tourists, or college kids . . . they all got a kick out of having a female boat captain, and since she was passable in the looks department and a smartass to boot, she got hit on a lot. She always declined, even the marriage proposals. Especially the marriage proposals. “I’m flattered,” she said with an easy smile. “But I couldn’t possibly break the hearts of all the women waiting for their cocktail fantasies to come true.”
“Damn.” Sean mimed a dagger to the heart but laughed good-naturedly. “Do me a favor then, would ya? If you’re going to take this one for a spin”—he elbowed Finn—“Show him how to live a little and maybe take him for a walk on the wild side while you’re at it.”
Pru slid her gaze to Finn, which was how she caught the quick flash of irritation as Sean sauntered off. “You need help living a little?” she asked him lightly. Not easy to do since her heart had started pounding, her pulse racing, because what was she doing? Was she really playing with him? It was a bad idea, the worst of all her bad ideas put together, and she’d had some real doozies over the years.
Don’t be stupid. Back away from the cute hottie. You can’t have him and you know why.
But the troubling train of thought stopped on a dime when Finn laughed all rumbly and sexy, like maybe he saved it for special occasions.
“Actually,” he said, “I’ve lived plenty. And as for taking a walk on the wild side, I wrote the book on it.” He leaned on the bar, which brought him up close and personal. Eyes locked on hers, he stroked a strand of wet hair from her temple.
She went still, like a puppy waiting for a belly rub, staring up at him, her heart still pounding, but for another reason entirely now. “What changed?” she asked, whispered really, because she was pretty sure she knew what the catalyst had been and it was going to kill her to hear him say it.
He shrugged. “Life.”
Oh how she hated that for him. Hated it, and felt guilty for it. And not for the first time when she felt overwhelmed and out of her league, she opened her mouth and put her foot in it. “You know, in some circles I’m known as the Fun Whisperer.”
He arched a brow. “Is that right?”
“Yep,” she said, apparently no longer in control of her mouth. “The fun starts right here with me. I specialize in people not living their lives, the ones letting their life live them. It’s about letting stuff go, you see.” Seriously. Why wasn’t her mouth attached to a shut-the-hell-up filter?
Finn smiled and blew half her brain cells. “You going to teach me how to have fun, Pru?” he asked in that low, husky voice.
Good God, the way her name rolled off his tongue had her knees wobbling. She could see now that his eyes weren’t a solid dark green, but had swirls of gold and brown and even some blue in them in the mix as well. She was playing with fire and all her inner alarms were going off.