Home > Beautifully Cruel(5)

Beautifully Cruel(5)
Author: J.T. Geissinger

I know desire when I see it. He kept it in check before, but he’s off leash now.

This wolf wants me.

More troublesome is that I want him, too, and I know I shouldn’t. Wolves might mate for life, but they’re still dangerous wild animals.

I’m as likely to get bitten as kissed.

I wordlessly gesture to the booth he normally sits in. He hesitates a moment longer, then runs a hand down the front of his suit jacket and sits. I pour coffee into his mug, feeling his gaze on me, feeling elated and nervous and a little bit scared.

“Can I get you anything else?”

His eyes flash. When he looks at my mouth and sinks his teeth into his lower lip, I almost topple over.

His voice low, he says, “I shouldn’t be here.”

I have no idea how to respond to that. “Um…okay?”

“I’m supposed to be on the other side of the city right now, taking care of business. Business I can’t afford to put aside. Instead, I’m here. You understand?”

I’m about to say no, but I rethink it. A dangerous kind of adrenaline has begun to work its way through my blood, weaving magic in my veins, making me feel like anything is possible.

Making me bold.

My heart pounding, I look him in the eye and say quietly, “Yes. You have important things to do, but you came here to see me, even though you wish you didn’t want to, and it’s against your better judgment. For the record, I like you, too.”

Jaw working, he stares at me in blistering silence.

I’ve surprised him. I like that I’ve surprised him. He doesn’t seem like a man who’s taken aback by much of anything.

“You don’t have a man, then.”

Wow. How he managed to make that sound like, “Bend over the table and lift up your skirt,” I’ll never know. Carla was right: the man is fire.

I clear my throat, shifting my weight from foot to foot, painfully aware of the flush of heat spreading down from my cheeks to my neck. “No. I’m single.” I glance at his left hand, at his bare ring finger. “You?”

He says gruffly, “I don’t…a relationship wouldn’t…fit my lifestyle.”

The boldness still flowing through me, I say tartly, “So you’re only into one night stands?”

“No. I’m not into anything. I mean, I wasn’t.”

He stares hungrily at me. I hear the unspoken Until you, and the flesh on my arms rises in goose bumps.

I set the coffee pot on the table, slide into the booth across from him, fold my hands in my lap, and say, “I think now might be a good time to tell me your name. I can’t keep calling you ‘the wolf’ in my head forever.”

A faint smile lifts the corners of his mouth. I’m amusing him.

But instead of playing along, he issues a startling command. “Take your hair down.”

I arch my brows. “Excuse me?”

“Your hair. Take it out of the bun.”

Okay, so he’s got the whole alpha male thing going on. He’s probably used to issuing orders and having his minions peep in terror and scatter to do his bidding. Unfortunately for him, I’m just as stubborn as I am hot-tempered and grudge-holding.

The only orders I take are for food.

“First things first. Tell me your name. Then maybe we’ll exchange phone numbers. Then maybe we’ll go on a date. You don’t really look like a guy who goes miniature golfing, so…dinner? Yes. Dinner. You’ll take me somewhere nice, I’ll laugh at all your jokes, we’ll get to know each other. Then maybe at some point down the line after a few more dates, I’ll take down my hair for you.

“But that’s something you earn. I don’t know what kind of women you’re used to, but my mother didn’t raise a worker bee. She raised a queen.” I stare at him without smiling. “And I don’t give away the honey for free.”

He’s silent for so long it gets uncomfortable. But then he leans over the table, threads his fingers together, and looks me in the eyes. His own are fierce and burning.

“And here I thought you were shy.”

“I am,” I say, nodding. “Especially with strangers. Tongue-tied and awkward, too. That doesn’t mean I’m a pushover. I live most of my life in my head, but the knives come out when necessary.”

The wolf stares at me. I have never, ever, been looked at with such intensity.

He says, “How old are you?”

“Twenty-four. How old are you?”

“Older than that.”

“By how much?”

“Enough to know I shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Doing what? Having a conversation in a shitty diner in the middle of the night?”

He licks his lips again. I imagine a lion smacking his chops over a fresh kill. His gaze drifts leisurely over my face. His voice comes out thick.

“Indulging myself.”

A little shiver goes through me. It’s my body’s acknowledgment that though this man I’m sitting across from is wearing a couture suit and a watch that could probably pay off my student loans, he’s anything but civilized.

My pulse flying, I whisper, “Why are you, then?”

For a moment, he’s all heat and hunger, so focused on me I think he’s about to lunge across the table and eat me whole. Nothing else in the world exists, just me and him and this crackle of attraction electrifying the air between us. This weird little bubble of wanting and need.

He opens his mouth to say something…but stops.

His full lips tighten. His mouth takes on a ruthless slant. The warmth leaches from his eyes until he’s staring back at me in flinty coldness. It’s like watching a door slam closed.

He stands abruptly and stares down at me, his gaze flat and dark. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Tru. I hope you have a nice life.”

Understanding that’s a goodbye, I sag back against the booth and stare up at him for a moment in disbelief. Then I huff out a small laugh. “You, too. It’s been real.”

He takes one long, final look at my face before he turns around and walks out.

 

 

4

 

 

Tru

 

 

As I rise from the table and make my way toward the counter, Diego watches from the kitchen with a frown. Before I get even halfway across the dining room, Carla rushes over.

The Spanish Inquisition begins.

“Holy shit, girl, what did he say to you? What did you say to him? What’s his name? Did he tell you why he’s been coming here so long without asking you out? Did you get his number? Did he get your number? Did you make a date? Why the hell aren’t you saying anything, I’m dying here!”

I snort. “Oh, is it my turn to talk now?”

Following me as I walk, Carla pinches my arm. “Quit being ugly. What did he say?”

Back at the counter, I shove the coffee pot into the machine and wipe my hands on my apron. “Cliff Notes version—he said hi, I shouldn’t be here, do you have a boyfriend, take down your hair, it’s been nice knowing you, so long. Then he left.”

She groans in exasperation. “Oh no. You talked about your family again, didn’t you?”

“Not even a little bit. He ran away all on his own.”

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