Authors: Octavia Wildwood
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Fiction
HIS FOR ONE NIGHT
Part 1 of the HIS Series
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved
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“What can I get you?”
young, spiky-haired bartender stared at me expectantly and I froze. I racked my brain and tried to think of something that people who know their way around bars order…something that wouldn’t make me sound like an idiot who spent most of her time on campus. The truth was I was completely out of place, but I didn’t want to let on. It was too embarrassing.
“I, uh…I’ll have a rum and coke?” I ended the sentence on an upward intonation that made it difficult to tell whether I was ordering or asking a question. When the bartender merely nodded at me and went to work
pouring it, I breathed a sigh of relief.
As I waited
for the drink I looked around at my surroundings, mostly just because I was feeling fidgety – probably a result of being horny and angry and humiliated. It was either fidget or cry and I didn’t care to do the latter. I’d never been much of a crier and I’d be damned if I was going to start now.
It was a small, quaint place down in the shopping district, the kind that’s charming and folksy to tourists. But tourist season was over and the twenty-something locals had claimed the joint as their own. It was Friday night and the bar was full of young co-eds. That’s what happens when you live in a college
town and Burlington, Vermont is certainly one of those.
“Do you come here often?” a man’s deep voice asked, startling me from my thoughts.
Well if that wasn’t the most cliché pickup line I’d ever heard...
I whirled around
preparing to do a slow, sarcastic clap. I saw a tall, dark haired man in an expensive suit had taken a seat at the bar, only one stool away from me. He had broad shoulders, a day’s worth of scruff on his chiseled jaw and the corners of his mouth turned upward ever so slightly. So much for the slow clap – for a moment I may have forgotten I even had hands.
His steely blue-grey eyes searched mine, waiting expectantly for an answer.
I cleared my throat. “Actually no,” I told him. “It’s my first time.”
“Oh, so you’re not from around here either, I take it?”
I hesitated and then confessed, “I am. I mean, I’m not from Burlington originally – I grew up in New Hampshire. But I’ve lived here since I graduated high school.” I wasn’t sure why I was offering so much information, but then again, I did have a tendency to babble incoherently when I was feeling anxious.
Something about the guy made me nervous. Maybe it was the glimmer in his eye, or the way he looked at me like I was an ice cream cone he wanted to lick.
(Or was I imagining that? It could have been wishful thinking.) On second thought, it was probably the way he’d made heat spread to my face – and other places – that had me flustered. I was pretty sure there was a picture of him in the dictionary next to “seductive” –
holy shit he was hot.
“How long might that be?”
he asked, casually taking a sip of his drink. Even then, his eyes never left mine. It was intense, but not creepy. There was something magnetic about him. I was oddly jealous of his glass, wishing that his lips were on me instead of it.
I did the mental calculation
, noting as I counted on my fingers that my manicure could really use some touching up. My life of research, course planning and office hours didn’t necessitate having perfectly maintained fingernails, but I couldn’t stand when the polish started chipping. It looked so cheap. “It’s almost ten years,” I told him even as I wondered where the past decade had gone.
Though he recovered quickly, the man looked a bit surprised
. I knew why. I was twenty-eight years old but I didn’t look it. My creamy, pale skin and long, honey colored hair gave me the appearance of being younger than my true age. In fact, I’d been carded within moments of arriving at the bar.
I knew most women were dying to look youthful but lately
I was feeling like it worked to my disadvantage. Youthfulness doesn’t do a damn thing in the classroom, but getting one’s students to sit still and pay attention does. It was difficult to get my rowdy first year college students to take me seriously when I didn’t exactly look like an authority figure.
“What brought you to
Burlington?” the sexy stranger wanted to know. He had a way of looking at me that made me think he was genuinely interested in the answer. That was ridiculous, of course; I was a stranger so what did he care? But there was nonetheless something about the way he tilted his head to the side and studied my face intently that made me think he did.
“I came here for college,” I told him
, remembering how young and optimistic I’d been back then. Some might say I’d been naïve – and in some ways, I supposed I still was. “Then I went on to grad school…well, long story short I teach Sociology at the college now.”
He whistled under his breath, a sound of amazement and admiration. “You must be a very ambitious woman,” he said, looking
genuinely impressed. “Did you always know you wanted to be a professor?”
“Well I’m not a professor yet,” I corrected him. “I’m just a
sessional instructor working on contract. That’s academic politics for you,” I said with a roll of my eyes. “A PhD isn’t good enough; you have to kiss ass to work your way up. Who knew? It’s kind of pathetic but it’s the way it’s been probably since, well, probably forever. So I guess I just need to pucker up.”
“Oh, is that how it works?” he asked with a touch of amusement. “I’d always heard about sleeping one’s way to the top, but then I’m not as educated as you so what do I know?”
I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not, so I didn’t reply. Instead I gulped down the drink the bartender had set down in front of me, grimacing as I set the empty glass down and the strong taste of alcohol rudely assaulted my taste buds.
The stranger watched with
quiet interest, a small smile playing over his lips. Then he leaned over and knowingly murmured, “I think I know what you’d like.” There was nothing overtly sexual about what he’d said but I nonetheless felt my body tremble in excitement.
But of course, he hadn’t been talking about anything dirty.
As I watched, he got up and walked over to the bartender who’d moved down to the other end of the bar. A moment later, he returned to my side holding a drink that was an interesting shade of pink. Upon closer inspection, I saw it had small chunks of red fruit in it.
“Here you go,
” he said, extending his arm and holding the glass out to me. “You won’t be disappointed,” he promised confidently, giving me a subtle wink.
“What is it?”
“It’s a strawberry daiquiri.”
I eyed it – and him – suspiciously. “No offence,” I told him, “but I don’t accept drinks from strangers at bars.” I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I remembered hearing about the douchebags who slipped drugs into unsuspecting women’s drinks at bars. Just because I’d stepped out of my comfort zone and come to a bar didn’t mean I was going to throw all caution to the wind. No way was I drinking that.
“My name is Hayden Slate,” he said, extending his hand. “And you are…?”
“I’m Daniella. Daniella James,” I replied.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Daniella,” he told me, his eyes twinkling. “There, now we’re no longer strangers. But I can still appreciate that you don’t want to accept a drink from me. I’ll have the bartender make you up a new one and hand it to you directly,” he said with a smile.
have to do that,” I interjected.
“I want to.”
His tone, although perfectly cordial, told me he wasn’t used to being told no.
I didn’t protest. There was something nice about a handsome man in a nice suit buy
ing me a drink – probably, I supposed, because it was novel. I wasn’t used to the attention and it was sort of flattering. It wasn’t that I’d never dated because over the years, I had. I guess the guys I went out with just hadn’t been the type who’d act all chivalrous toward a woman.
Well, as chivalrous as a guy can be when trying to get into my pants, anyway. Eventually the charade would have to end and I’d be obliged to tell him I wasn’t that sort of girl, but for now it was kind of nice to have someone to talk to. Before he’d come along I’d never known I could feel so alone in a room full of people.
Hayden sat back down after speaking with the bartender again, this time on the stool right beside mine. Once he was right next to me like that I became very aware of his physical stature. He was tall…and muscular. His biceps were probably twice the size of my arms! “So what is there to do for fun here in Burlington?” he asked. “I’m only here on business for a few days but I expect to have some free time to fill.”
I racked my brain
, trying to come up with some suggestions that wouldn’t sound totally stupid. “Um, well some people like to go to the state park to hike,” I said even though hiking wasn’t my thing. He looked like he might be the type who actually enjoyed exercise. “They say it’s peaceful out there…scenic. And I’ve heard the winery tours are nice, too, though I’ve never been on one myself.” He looked like he might be the type to enjoy fine wines, as well.
Hayden smiled at me, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he did. I guessed he must be in his late thirties, probably ten or so years my senior. “So you’ve told me what other people like to do for fun,” he
observed. “But what do
like to do for fun, Daniella?”
…Fun?” I joked, feeling my face redden. “What’s that?” The last few years had been all about research, thesis writing, functions at the college and trying to build my career. That didn’t leave me with a lot of free time. “I guess when I’m not busy at the college I like to read,” I offered lamely. The truth was, I was a bit of a bookworm – always had been. It wasn’t exciting but it was what made me happy.
well-read woman,” he replied with no hint of judgment. “That’s refreshing. Women of substance are hard to come by these days, it seems.” His long, masculine fingers rested lightly on the countertop in front of us and as I stared at them, I couldn’t help but wonder what they’d feel like caressing my body.
The bartender brought me a fresh strawberry daiquiri, which I accepted gratefully.
It was a good distraction from the amorous thoughts that had suddenly and inexplicably decided to invade my brain. Hayden watched me intently as I drank it as though he was trying to enjoy it vicariously through me. Or maybe he was just enjoying the sight of my pleasure as the creamy, fruity drink hit my tongue, arousing my taste buds.
“How is it?”
he asked as though he already knew the answer. I couldn’t decide if his attitude was presumptuous or merely confident. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him.
“It’s delicious,” I replied, and it was. It was certainly tastier than the rum and coke I’d been drinking earlier. There was, in fact, no comparison.
Hayden, it seemed, had good intuition when it came to ordering women drinks in bars.
In retrospect, that
should have been the first warning sign.
“What brings you here tonight?” he asked, looking around as a group of boisterous college students on a pub crawl came stumbling in. Thanks to them, the noise level instantly doubled.
It was clear this bar wasn’t their first top of the night…more like fifth or sixth. “It doesn’t exactly seem like your kind of crowd.”
“What would you know about my kind of crowd?” I retorted, having to raise my voice to be heard over the background noise. “We’ve only just met.” Maybe I was being rude but I was already on edge and I hated when people made assumptions about me.
“That’s true,” he agreed, backing down with a touch of amusement. “I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly like having to raise my voice to have a conversation. I know a great little café just down the street. Will you join me for a bite to eat?”
Suddenly to my left, a drunken young woman let out an ear-splitting shriek. Then she began gyrating against an equally intoxicated guy, her arms in the air and her skirt hiked up so high she was practically flashing the entire bar. I wasn’t so sure she was wearing panties, either. That settled it. I didn’t want to stick around to watch her make an idiot of herself. That would only embarrass us both.
“I’m not going to sleep with you,” I blurted out, blushing as soon as the words left my lips.
Hayden laughed then. “Maybe you misheard me over the noise,” he said although we both knew that wasn’t the case. “I didn’t ask you to sleep with me. I asked you to join me for dinner. It wasn’t code for anything, I promise.”
I felt a little dumb.
“Okay,” I said, grabbing my purse. “Let’s go.” Come to think of it, I was pretty hungry and escaping the noisy bar before I got a headache sounded like a good idea.
I didn’t miss the way Hayden’s
hand lingered on the small of my back as he held the door for me on our way out. It wasn’t presumptive or invasive. In fact, it was rather gentlemanly. Maybe the alcohol was to blame, but a shiver of excitement shot through my body when he touched me.
I tried to push the butterflies
aside as we made our way down the quaint, tree-lined street. I liked to think I was a cautious, intelligent woman, but it was an unseasonably warm night and there were enough people sitting out on bar and restaurant patios that I felt comfortable leaving with Hayden. And we were just going to a café down the street – it wasn’t like I was taking him home or anything!