Read Third Degree Online

Authors: Julie Cross

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Fiction

Third Degree (40 page)

BOOK: Third Degree
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Wherever I start, I know exactly where I want to end up. But now I’m just torturing myself, and by the time I get to the counter, I’m grateful I’m still in my thick snowboarding pants. Otherwise, my interest would be obvious to everyone in the damn room.

“What can I get you?” she asks, her fingers poised over the register. For the first time I realize her nails are painted a funky green that almost exactly matches her eyes—not what I was expecting from her with all those tough-girl vibes she throws out. I like the color, though, almost as much as I like knowing there’s more to her than I thought.

Not that it really matters, I remind myself. I want to fuck her, not get to know all her twists and turns.

“I don’t know.” I let my voice go a little huskier than normal, give her the half smile that usually gets me whatever I want. “What’s good?”

“That depends on what you like.” She mimics my tone exactly, but when I search her face there’s nothing but polite professional interest there. It’s my second clue that I might be in for more than I bargained for here.

Interested despite my less than honorable intentions, I lean against the counter and contemplate my choices. The answer I want to give her has nothing to do with coffee and everything to do with what I’ve spent the last five minutes fantasizing about. But something tells me that kind of approach won’t work with her, not this girl with the deliberately bland face, kick-ass voice, and—I glance down at the hands she still has poised over the register—trembling, green-tipped fingers.

I barely bite back a grin. Looks like I make her nervous, after all. It’s the best news I’ve had all day. “I like just about anything,” I finally tell her.

“Yeah, I’ve heard that about you,” she answers dryly, sounding less than impressed.

“Oh, really? And what exactly have you heard”—I glance down at the black-and-silver name tag pinned to her shirt—“Ophelia?”

She rolls her eyes. “I think you’ve got a pretty good idea what people say about you, Z. Now are you going to stand there all night batting your eyes at me or are you actually going to order something for your harem?”

“My
harem
?”

She nods toward Lila and her friends, and this time the look on her face lets me know just how unimpressed she is. Damn. Looks like my reputation really has preceded me. Or Lila’s has. She’s one of the winter regulars who have a lot more money than sense. Somehow I doubt she’s got the intelligence—or basic good manners—to be nice to the barista. Which means I really
might be screwed here.

It matters more than it should. Normally I don’t give a shit what people say about me—and they say a lot, especially since Luc, Ash, and I turned pro—but something about the way Ophelia’s looking at me is making my palms sweat. It’s a first for me, and one I’m not all that happy about.

“I barely know those girls.”

“Like that’s supposed to impress me?”

“I don’t know.” It’s the most honest thing I’ve said all day. “What
would
impress you?”

She eyes me disdainfully. “Way more than what you’ve got to offer.”

So much for honesty. That’s why I work so hard not to put myself out there—it always bites you in the ass. Determined to get control of the situation, I rest my hands on the counter and lean in toward her. Then I turn it on, the look that’s gotten me every girl I’ve tried for since I lost my virginity at the age of thirteen.

Ophelia’s eyes go wide and she bobbles the cup she reached for seconds ago. This time I don’t even try to hide my smile.

“Why don’t you give me something sweet,” I suggest after she’s stared at me for a few long seconds.

“Something … sweet?” Her voice sounds strangled.

“Yeah.” A few strands of hair have escaped her bun, and I reach out to stroke an errant curl before winding it around my finger. “And hot. It’s pretty cold outside.”

“You want—” Her voice breaks. She’s breathless now, and I know this is it. I’ve got her. I feel a little twinge deep inside—one that I might identify as disappointment if I ever let myself hope for anything—but I ignore it. This is exactly what I wanted, after all. “You want something sweet and hot?”

“That is how I like my coffee.”
Among other things
, my look tells her. Not that I’m cheesy enough to say shit like that. But I can imply with the best of them.

Ophelia’s eyes are a little hazy now, a little unfocused, but she nods jerkily. Then, before I can say anything else, she heads over to the espresso machines and fumbles around for a minute or two. She doesn’t look toward me once, and when she comes back, she’s carrying a large glass of iced coffee.

Confused, I look back and forth between her and the drink. “That doesn’t look very warm,” I finally tell her.

“Yeah, well, I made an executive decision. It looked like you needed something to cool yourself down with.” And then it’s her turn to lean over the counter. I have a quick second to curse the turtleneck—I’d really love to see what this girl’s tits look like—right before she dumps the coffee all over the front of my pants.

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