Like a magnet, Kevin found himself drawn back to the little beauty supply store. He wasn’t particularly in the market for bath oils or bubbles, but he wasn’t in the market for those items yesterday, either, yet they made their way into his basket. And, quite frankly, they were the best purchase he had made in recent memory.
His brain had been filled with images of his encounter the previous evening. The gorgeous strawberry blonde working at the beauty supply shop had come around the corner, and as if the heavens had opened up and shined a spotlight upon her, he couldn’t tear his eyes from hers. Her plump lips begged to be kissed, her electric blue eyes bore into his nearly as a reflection of his own longing, and her strawberry blonde hair was a shade he had only imagines angels having. She was amazing.
But, honestly, he had assumed she’d be some bimbo, some stereotypical blonde bimbo working at a beauty shop to enhance her looks and have nothing for brains, but boy was he wrong. He was sooo wrong. She was witty, and smart, and she didn’t let him intimidate her. She stood her ground and had enough hold of herself that she actually had the nerve to tease him, to toy with him.
He was the one that was generally in control. He was usually the one making the ladies drop their jaws, chase after him, and blush at his frank observations. Last night, the beautiful lady behind the desk had dropped his jaw, made him blush at her comments, and made him want to chase after her. Perplexing, really, but he couldn’t resist.
It was now an hour before the sign said the shop would close, and he was parked alongside the building, thrumming his fingers on his steering wheel. His mom had been thrilled to receive her birthday gift earlier today, and he would have to remember to thank the blonde. He would also have to remember to get her name, he thought as he opened the car door and started down the dark street to her shop. It was dark already, and the streets were empty. He wondered why she stayed open so late.
When he approached the clear glass door, he stopped dead in his tracks. The blonde was on the top rung of a ten foot ladder, reaching up to change a light bulb in the ceiling. He would have offered to help under normal circumstances, but he was afraid the buzz of the front door would scare her, and he definitely didn’t need her falling off the tall ladder because of him.
He watched her through the window. Her back was to him, and he got a delightful eye full of her fanny, filling out her khaki shorts in the greatest way possible. Her shirt was pulled to the side in a knot, and when she reached up, he got a peek of her deliciously creamy skin. Her legs went for days, and even her dainty calves made him want to run his hand over them. Her calves, for heaven’s sake. He was turned on by everything about this woman. She clasped the top of the ladder as she put the final twist on the light bulb, and her incredible hair fell across her shoulder. He wanted to feel it, to see if it was as soft as it looked, or smelled as good as he imagined.
Maybe she smelled like eucalyptus? Or passion fruit? or maybe her own magical potion that would cast its spell back on him.
As Julie finished the last light bulb in this hundred year old building, she heard the front door buzz. Thank goodness. Heights were not her thing, and if it had rung while she was shaking ten feet up, she might have tipped right over in fright, her nerves already on edge.
It was also a good thing she had made it safely to the floor before she saw who had just entered. Her heart stopped for a second before picking up its pace, pounding in her chest like a giant drum. She felt a flush creep up her cheek, but she reminded herself that there was no way Kevin had read her mind or all the daydreams she had imagined today on the floor. She couldn’t walk down the bath aisle without imagining him naked, waiting for her. She couldn’t look at the oils without imagining him slick and willing. She couldn’t even walk through women’s wear without devious thoughts crossing her mind.
When he saw her, he gave a friendly smile. OK, good. She hadn’t scared him off at least, that was a start. And he must not have told his mother what a dirty mouth she had, which was another good thing. She was all about being a lady on the street and a freak in the bed, and she was glad he let his mama think she was a lady.
“Hey” she said, trying to be confident and cheery but her voice betrayed her, sounding more like her voice in her dreams last night than the friendly cashier. “How did your mom like her gift?”
“She loved it,” he said, a mischievous smile crossing his face. “You were exactly right, and it earned me some brownie points. Thank you very much.”
Excellent! She had gotten that part right at least. “That makes me happy. I am glad.” Her innocent words darkened his eyes. Maybe he was still thinking about last night’s purchase, too?
She wanted to take the heat off, to distract him. She also wanted him to keep the heat as it was warming her belly with each passing second. She managed a few more words, “Is there anything I can help you with?”
He smiled again, and a small chuckle came from his lips. Actually from his chest, up his muscled neck and then out his sexy lips. The small chuckle made his hair dance, just a bit, and again she had to wrench her hands together to keep from reaching out and running them through his blonde locks.
“I’d like to take you out for dinner,” he said matter of factually. “Think you could help me with that?” She felt her eyes widen and the pulse quicken at her wrist. She loosened the grip on her hands and massaged her wrist, trying to calm her nervous excitement. This perfection of a man had asked her to dinner. Hell yes.
“Well, I am still open for another hour, but after that I’m free, if you take me as I am. Otherwise I’ll need to go home first and…” His eyes sparkled and he interrupted her, “Just as you are, please. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Ok then. That was settled. “There’s usually not too much action this last hour,” she said, wishing there would be. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to just sit around and not want to jump his bones. “I just use it to tidy up and such. Have a seat if you’d like.”
“I’d like to look around a bit, if that’s all right.”
“Of course,” she said with a nervous giggle. She watched him as he strolled the aisles, picking up a few items here and there. She tried to be nonchalant, but her curiosity got the best of her. She found herself peeking through shelves, and finding excuses to walk by him. She watched him put a black, silk sleep mask in his basket. Oh, that had possibilities. She imagined wearing it herself as he teased her, running a feather down her stomach, tickling her….
She watched him put a tingling lotion in the basket. Yep. That could be fun. and a couple of candles, Mr. Obvious.
She had to stop this. She forced herself to wrap up in the back and wait patiently behind the till.
She couldn’t sit still. He already had her revved up. When he finally made it up front, she rang up the items she had seen, plus a black scarf and his/hers chap stick. So high school. Or not? All last night she imagined what his lips would feel like on hers, and if they added in the spice of a chemical reaction on top of their chemistry, it would be phenomenal.
Her throat was dry and she tried to swallow. She tried to peek up at him through her bangs to see if he had noticed her. Yes, he was watching her with those ice blue eyes, penetrating her. He knew she was thinking dirty, but she kept her lips shut.
At least for the time being.
Kevin loved her curiosity. She tried to be discreet, but there was nothing discreet about this woman. Her glances brought out the rebel in him, and he took extra time perusing the aisles and studying the items before places them in his basket.
Her face went from pink to red as she rang up the items, the items he had never thought of in a dirty fashion before entering this store last night. But she had, and it inspired a bit of creativity in him. She held up the sleep mask, dangling it from her sweet little fingers while her eyes gave him a teasing look. And then she smiled again. He knew he would walk a thousand miles just to put a smile on her face. It not only did something to his body, but it did something to his heart, softened him somehow.
They made small talk until the clock struck eight, and then she shut the place down. “Where to?” she asked as she locked the door.
“The Middle Fork” he said, the edgy new restaurant down the street. She hadn’t had a chance to try it, with her hours being so insane and all, and she was intrigued. She took his arm, and down the street they went.
It really was a lovely time of night. The way the street lights glowed, accenting the shape of the brick in the buildings. Sometimes she hated that they were all literally a hundred years old and changing light bulbs was a chore she despised, but there was something romantic and magical walking down the sidewalk. The shadows didn’t scare her when she had his arm. Instead they seemed to dance across the street, playing with one another as the cars passed by.
They passed the alley that freaked her out. She never parked this way because walking down that alley to get to her car felt like a death sentence. Sensing her distress, he just held her a little more tightly. She appreciated the momentary sense of protection and wished it would last just a bit longer. They turned down to main street, and she saw the bridge. There was this dainty little bridge that was restored to look like it was straight from the early 1900s, except it was clean and beautiful and its street lights danced out on the water.
She didn’t realize her feet had stopped moving, but she did notice when he wrapped his arms around her from the back. She was looking out over the water that was running just a mere ten feet under her. She could hear it flowing through the bridge, making its own magical music. She saw the ducks nested up on the grass along the edge near the street with not a care in the world, their beaks tucked into their wings as if this form of yoga was the trick to a good night’s sleep.
She felt his arms wrap around her just a little tighter, and she felt his cheek in her hair and his breath on her ear. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked.
More than beautiful. “Yeah. I feel like there is a better word for it, but I can’t think of what it could be,” she said, relaxing into his hold. She could smell his cologne and knew she wouldn’t soon forget it. He had his arms just under her breasts, and when she relaxed she felt them rest of his arm. It sent a shock of awareness through her body, straight to her lady parts, again causing her breathing to catch.
She knew he must have felt it, too, but he didn’t pull away. She took one last look over the gently flowing waters and turned in his embrace, coming nose to nose with him. Well, almost, she was still too short to just reach him. She’d have to tippy toe.
As if reading her mind, he spoke, “I am on best behavior tonight, and my mama raised me to never kiss on the first date. But I want you to know I want to. I have thought about kissing that delectable mouth of yours for twenty four hours straight, but I won’t. Not tonight.”
She felt the air spill out of her lungs. What?!? No! She more than wanted it, she needed it! She heard him chuckle again as he pulled away and took her hand, the reverberations only increasing her need. She felt herself pout a bit as they crossed the bridge and neared the entrance. They entered the brightly lit doorway and made their way to the hostess. He announced his reservation and they were immediately seated at a booth for two near the back.
“I don’t remember you making the reservation tonight,” she goaded.
He looked down at her with that sparkle in his eyes and replied, “Wishful thinking. I made the reservation earlier today hoping you felt the spark last night as keenly as I.”
He saw the look in her eye. He had known last night that she would say yes. Their bodies were magnetized in an undeniable way, and he was right. When they reached the booth, he regretted the decision for moment. If he had chosen a larger booth he could sit beside her, but this one clearly had him sitting across from her, but what a joy that would be any how.
They sat and she ordered a margarita. He smiled inwardly. It would be fun to let her lips loosen again, entertaining at the least, and arousing at its best. He sipped his water and watched her body become just a little more relaxed, much as she was in his arms just a few minutes ago. He was amazed at how quickly she trusted him, and their conversation quickly went from lighthearted talk about the weather to deep, intriguing thoughts that went so much more than skin deep. He found himself enjoying this conversation more than any other in his life.
When she excused herself to the ladies room, he sat back in his booth and pondered how lucky he had become. Taking his mother’s advice to shop at the beauty supply store was the best advice he ever took. When she some day learned he had asked her out, she would lecture him about being a gentleman, opening doors, no kissing on the first date cuz if it’s true love she’ll still be there for the second, and on and on.
He used to hate her advice and did what he wanted with willing women, but something about Julia made him want to be the kind of man his mother had told him about. He wanted to hold her hand and open doors for her. He wanted to be patient and thoughtful instead of laughing at the chivalry, and he knew she would be his for a second date, and the kiss would be so very worth the wait.
If he could last that long. His body had been thrumming all night, but he wanted to give her the respect she deserved but still leave her thinking about him tonight, in bed.
She arrived back at the table the same time as their food. She slid in and ordered another margarita and he ordered a fresh water. When her eyes saw her plate, they widened and a smile just as wide crossed her face. “This. Looks. Amazing!” she said with childish delight. She looked up at him, and he was glad he could provide this for her. She looked at his plate and the smile widened impossibly further, “And so does yours!”
He knew at that moment he would give her the world. He slid his plate towards her, “it’s all yours,” he found himself saying.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that. This is, just, well this is just great,” she said as she waved her fork over their plates. Then he heard her say under her breath, “You have no idea how long it’s been.” He wondered what she meant by that.
Julia ate until she was stuffed. It was the best meal she had consumed in a long time, and she was thankful for the carbs to soak up her alcohol a bit. She hadn’t drank in ages, and it made her feel a bit tipsy. She tried to behave herself, but she knew he could see right through it so she gave up. She would just be herself for once, and it he didn’t like it too bad. She would go back to being her lonely self and he would go back to looking handsome for someone else.
Only she didn’t want him to look handsome for anyone else. Maybe it was the tequila talking, but she found herself rambling. “So, have you found a lover yet for your massage oils?” She was kind of surprised that had slipped out, but she had drank away her filter and if it was on her brain it came out her lips. Whoops.
His eyes darkened to a dark blue, a stormy blue before he answered. “I was kind of hoping it would be you.”
“Yeah, well my boyfriend won’t even kiss me, so I’m not sure that would really work out….” she said before she stopped herself. Boyfriend? Heck, they had barely just met!
His eyes smiled in a genuine fashion. Thank goodness he wasn’t offended by her slip. “I have a present for you,” he rasped out, his voice mischievous. He dug into his bag he had tucked into his jacket and pulled out the black scarf.
“I bought this for you today, but I have to admit I had been thinking about this particular scarf far longer.” He reached over and placed it in her hands, running the soft fabric over her wrist, up her arm, and down through her fingers.
“I’m not sure your girlfriend would want to get all tied up if there was no kissing involved,” she teased. His grinned in a self assured fashion.
“I promise you would still pant my name if I used it tonight.” She felt her eyes widen at the possibility. “But I won’t. I want you to have it, and when you wear it, maybe on our third date or so, I will take it as a sign you trust me enough to do just that. But with the kissing, and stroking, and licking.
She licked her lips as they had gone dry. Her thoughts were so hot her lips dried up like the Sahara desert. She tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come.
Kevin had wanted to tie her up right there, to pull her to him and have his way with her. He wanted to ravage her body, but he wanted to do it when she was sober. He wanted her to want it as much as he, though the waiting just might kill him.
“Maybe, now this is just hypothetical,” be began, “but maybe it’s time you tried some of those products for yourself. Maybe I could strip you, piece by piece, and feel your incredible skin on my lips. Maybe, just maybe, I could get you talked into lying on my bed wearing nothing but that silk sleep mask and let me oil your body, top to bottom. Clearly with the multi pack as you suggested. I’d use the calming oils on your arms and legs, the heating oil on your stomach, and the cooling oil on your nipples. I’d make you beg for the cinnamon oil, though you wouldn’t need it. Of course, hypothetically, if you tried to take things into your own hands, so to speak, I might have to use that black scarf and deny you, so that my lips could bring you to new heights.”
He heard her moan, ever so slightly, and the sound went straight to his cock. He felt it jerk in his jeans and he regretted his chivalrous intentions. He might not make it. If she made that sound again he would be unable to stop himself from hauling her out of the booth and kissing her soundly on the lips. His tongue begged to taste her sweet lips and feel her warm skin on his. She felt her foot slide up his leg in the booth, and she settled it right in his groin.
It was his turn to groan, “Baby, you’re playing with fire.”
She wiggled her bare toes ever so slightly, and the provocative touch nearly sent him over the edge. He motioned for the waitress, “Check, please.”
He quickly paid, her mink-like smile smoldering him everywhere. They ducked out of the restaurant and she giggled again, the sound music to his ear. She took his arm, and her nearness had every single one of his nerves standing on edge. He was wound tight, but with a determination to do things right for the first time in his life.
When they reached the alley, he remembered she had tensed the last time they had passed it. He tucked her in ever more tightly into his side, and she wrapped her deliciously languid arm around him, his nose buried in her strawberry blonde hair that did in fact smell like fresh fruit. They made it to the bridge and she slowed again, so he paid extra close attention. When they had first crossed it, her body suddenly became dreamy. She looked out over the water as if it was the first time she had seen this particular river. She was transfixed and in total awe, and he didn’t want to ever take that look of innocence off her face. He let her look, eventually joining her in the observation, only he could only think about the weight of her breasts as they pressed against his arm. She was seductive, even in her innocence.
He felt his hand strumming her spine at the small of her back . She stopped suddenly, looked up at him, and said without abandon, “This is where I want our first kiss. Right here on the bridge, with the water flowing and the street lights and the magic.”
“I think that can be arranged,” he promised her. She smiled again.
“And I want to be kissed on my lips,” she said passively.
“That’s a promise.”
“And right here,” she said, pointing to a spot halfway down her jaw.
“That too can be arranged,” he managed to get out, though a bit gruffly.
“And right here,” she said, her finger sliding down her neck. He could only nod his head. “And here” she said, moving her finger across her collar bone, trailing it over her chest, down between her breasts and stopped at the inch of skin that showed between her shirt and her shorts. His mouth had suddenly gone dry.
“And how about you?” she purred, stepping closer to him, within millimeters of his face. “Where do you want your first kiss?” she asked.
Oh shit, this was getting to be a hard game to play. He ran his forefinger over her lips. “Here,” he whispered. She opened her lips and brought his finger into her mouth, sucking just enough to make it unbearable before he retracted it. Lord help him.
He drew his fingers down her jaw line, “then here,” he mumbled, tracing his fingers down her perfectly creamy neck. “And here,” he continued, tracing her collar bones, watching her eyes. Keeping his eyes locked on hers, he trailed his fingers across her chest much the way she had. “And here,” he said, impressed at his fortitude. She had let her head fall back, just an inch, allowing him clear access, her strawberry hair brushing his arm on her other side. He trailed his fingers down, between the swell of her breasts, across her stomach, and settled it on her hip, letting his thumb caress that sweet inch of skin that was bared to the night sky.
“Please,” she whispered, need etching into her voice.
He brought his hand to her back and splayed his hand under her shirt. “Wish I could, but rules are rules” he uttered. She moaned again, and he nearly exploded. He strengthened his resolve, he pulled back, and finished escorting her back to her shop.
Heaven help him, he just realized she was wearing the scarf.