There he is Lyla thought to herself. She had watched his broad form enter this bar earlier in the night from across the street from her second floor apartment.
Yeah, people watching was her thing. Yeah, it was maybe a little weird. Yeah, tonight she just didn’t care.
She watched his leather jacket cling to his shoulders, his ass doing that thing she loved so much. She saw his dark hair styled in a way she knew she could run her fingers through, but not long enough to compete with her locks.
She dreamed about those features from behind closed curtains. Then she decided to do something about it.
The bar scene wasn’t her thing. She didn’t like the cat calls, the ass grabs, the loud music, the drunk attempts at flirting. She wasn’t into the smell of stale beer and sweat. And she most definitely wasn’t into slimy peanuts they offered at the bar.
But she was into him.
Or, better yet, she wanted him into her.
Oh jeez. There she went again. Every time she thought of him her fingers trailed to her nipples, and this time even lower. Just the thought of this man turned her on, she wondered what it would be like to meet him in real life.
She decided to find out.
She tossed on some cutoff shorts, grabbed a tank that showed off her body without showing too much skin, and she tied up her shoes. A hand through her hair, a dab of lip stick and she was out the door.
When she crossed the street and entered Tellys Tavern, she tried to remember why she quit coming here.
She felt that old smile cross her face as she made her way to the bar. Telly himself was manning the station tonight, and she was uber relieved.
“Telly! How have you been! I missed you!” she said, really meaning it. He was happily married with two kids, and it showed in the way he genuinely greeted his customers – as if a happy heart was so fully it had enough to share with everyone around him.
“Ay! Me Lyla, how are you today?” he asked as he started mixing her old favorite drink.
“Better than I deserve” she said with a wink as he brought her drink up over the bar.
“Lil Lyla, you deserve the world,” he said, bracing his hands on the bar as if he was bracing himself for a fight. One she didn’t feel like battling.
She found the straw, brought it to her lips, and turned in her chair, eagerly searching for a distraction.
“You have a new dart board” she stated, scanning the room for someone to challenge.
She loved a challenge. She hated losing, but she hated being given the game even more. It took about a millisecond for Denny to find her.
He kind of made her skin crawl, but she wanted out of the Telly conversation more than she wanted away from Denny.
“Want a rematch?” he challenged, knowing her all too well.
“Darts? Yes. You? No,” she said flatly, clearly stating her intentions with him.
“Game on. Drinks on the loser.”
He watched her from across the room. She had a smooth finesse despite the dank surroundings. She maneuvered through the crowds with ease, she won two quick drinks on the doofus at the dart board, and she had this booming smile for nearly everyone she encountered.
She was captivating. Let’s be honest, her long lean legs, tight tank and swirling blonde hair made his body pay attention. As much as he tried to focus on his undercover assignment, he found his eyes trailing in the wrong direction.
After the third round of darts, the pair made their way to the bar, delight dancing in her eyes, dejection stinking like a cloud around him.
His target had not showed up as planned that evening, but he wasn’t quite ready to pack it up.
He headed for the bar, choosing the stool next to hers. She grabbed her straw, wrapped those beautiful lips around it and took a swig. Spiced lemonade. It fit.
He ordered a beer.
She turned to get up, but turned right into his lap. She stopped, held her breath for a second, and slowly trailed her eyes up his body without fear. When she reached his face, her smile was contagious. He felt his lips curling up, too.
“Hey, cowboy,” she said coyly. There was nothing about him that said cowboy. No hat, no belt buckle, no plaid shirt. He was taken back a bit. He cocked his head, waiting for explanation.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to saddle up into your lap there. But actually not sorry. What’s your name?” she asked.
“Damien” he said without hesitation, the name rehearsed so often lately that it came out more natural than his own.
She took his baseball cap and tossed it over her beautiful locks. It fit her look to a T. “Well, Damien, if you want your hat back, you’re going to have to catch me,” she said with a wink as she spun and disappeared into the crowd.
If only she knew how good he was at this game.
Lyla tried her best to dodge him. He was patient, always keeping her within eye sight, but never really pursuing her, either. She liked the chase. She liked the thrill of the game.
She liked how good he smelled. She liked the way his dark brown eyes bore into her at the bar. She liked the feel of his thighs on hers when she crashed into him.
She liked the way his arm protectively wrapped around her for a moment before she found her footing.
She liked the way her heart beat a little bit faster in his presence.
But she didn’t like winning this game. She wanted him to catch her.
She decided to call it a night. Dancing by yourself was only fun for so long, and dancing with men that weren’t Damien was no fun.
She liked the jealous look in Damien’s eye when someone else wrapped their arms around her, giving her hope that he maybe had interest. But he wasn’t wrapping his arms around her.
Stupid game. She should just go kiss him.
Or not. She had pretty bad luck with men in general. Maybe she should just cut her losses.
But she was keeping the hat.
Damien turned to pay for his drink, and she took his disadvantage an jutted out the door, waving at Telly as she passed.
She stood outside the door a second, breathing in the night air. She had always loved the way the moon played the sky, as if it was his deal and he arranged the stars to shine in a winning display. She felt that familiar smile cross her face and into her heart as she remembered her dad’s words, and then she crossed the street to her apartment.
“Hey, gorgeous, I didn’t get your name.” She heard Damien’s voice, and it sent shivers to all the right places. Usually cat calls made her sick to her stomach, but this one tickled much further south.
“Is that all you’re forgetting?” she asked, tucking the hat deeper into her hair.
He caught her just outside the brick building she called home, his long strides making easy work of the distance.
“I’m not forgetting anything,” he said, those chocolate eyes doing their thing, the thing that made her insides melt.
He boxed her into the side of the building, the kind of way that says he’s interested but also restrained enough to allow her to leave should she decide.
She ran her finger down his chest, appreciating everything about him. She wanted so much more, she felt her lips magnetized to his.
But no. She had rules. Rules she had to follow.
She watched his head lower to hers, appreciating his height, but then deciding for once in her life to exercise some self control.
She bobbed out from under his arms before his lips reached hers. “No kissing til the first date. Rule number one,” she said in nearly a whisper, her body betraying her desire to be good.
She skipped through the door, letting it lock behind her, and raced up the stairs to her apartment.