Home > Still Waters(4)

Still Waters(4)
Author: Anne Malcom

I’d gone from a bumbling idiot who spoke in single words to a bumbling idiot who didn’t know when to stop talking.

His eyes swept down my black, skintight leather pants that I’d saved for six months to buy on sale. A reason why I could never gain weight for the rest of my life, they molded to my legs perfectly. And went with my strappy Guccis. I had a tight black cami on, which dipped way low, showing off my less-than-ample assets. I’d compensated with a chunky necklace that took up half my chest and weighed a ton. My midnight-black hair was piled into a messy bun, though it was rebelling and falling in tendrils around my face.

That’s where he finished. Keltan. At my face. That was after he set my entire body aflame with that singular look.

I was actually breathing heavily.

From a look.

You’d think I hadn’t lost my virginity to Justin Ample, the quarterback, in the back seat of his mom’s Challenger.

That I’d been saving myself for a hulking man with eyes I could drown in and a body that pagans would sacrifice to if he was in ancient Greece.

“No, babe. You don’t look like a princess,” he agreed, voice smooth. “But you do look like fuckin’ royalty.”

His words filtered through my mind, and my gaze went to the thick cords of his neck as he spoke, watching the muscles in it move.

I snapped my eyes back up to the beautiful foreign man who I gathered to be a friend of Gwen’s, considering he arrived with her, and his accent was almost identical to hers, if a lot more manly.

A lot.

“You’re from New Zealand,” I said. It wasn’t a question, more of an accusation. Plus, what did someone really say to a statement like he just said? To pretty much a complete stranger?

It was insane.

And even more insane how much it curled into my stomach, making me feel a fluttering feeling that I would never admit, out loud at least, felt a fuck of a lot like butterflies.

He grinned again, folding his arms so the designs on them moved as though they were alive. “Guilty as charged. Think the accent gave me away? Or the rugged good looks that your Yank men can only dream of possessing? You are surrounded by some seriously ugly men. Thank God I’m here to give you something nice to look at.” He gave Cade and Lucky pointed looks.

I pursed my lips against my smile.

He could not be attractive, tall, and funny with an accent to boot. Not possible. And he could not be all of those, plus be… interesting to me.

No.

“Keltan,” he continued, his eyes on me, losing their teasing glint.

I wanted to squirm under the gaze, but I squared my shoulders and forced myself to paint a bored expression on my face. I leisurely sipped my martini, the heat of the alcohol nothing compared to the burn of his gaze. “I know,” I said by response.

His grin deepened, not at all perturbed by my lack of manners.

My mother would likely be having a heart attack if she could see me now.

And not just at his hotness, though she’d probably be drooling. She brought me up to be polite to everyone, unless they’d done something to deserve a swift tongue lashing.

“Kindness is indeed an important trait in this world, Pea, but you’re not going to be a pushover either. If someone mistakes that kindness for weakness, then you’re duty bound to correct that stupidity. We don’t suffer fools. We slap them. With sharp words first, and then a hand if need be.”

And here Keltan was being nothing but polite—dripping pheromones all over the place—and I was being more than rude. But I’d rather him decide I was a raging bitch and melt back into the party than give him any cause to continue this conversation and endanger my carefully constructed walls.

“You know,” he repeated my previous words.

The way his eyes focused on me, and only me, with their twinkling depths had my walls trembling.

I nodded once, curtly, swallowing hard.

“I get your name, or do I have to make up one of my own?” he asked. He stepped forward, eyes roving over my face. “Despite your protests against being a princess, you do look like one my sister was obsessed with until she was sixteen.” He leaned in, staring past my shoulders, looking for something. I glanced back—only men in leather and women in less than nothing. And a forlorn-looking Amy downing her drink like her life depended on it. I frowned at that but didn’t have time to inspect it, considering Keltan commanded my attention. “Nope, no seven little men following you. But I’m still thinkin’ Snow, ‘cause of that skin, and those fuckin’ lips,” he murmured, his proximity far too close for strangers.

Yet we didn’t feel like that.

Strangers.

I wanted to punch myself for saying, or even thinking it, but it was like we’d known each other for much longer. Or we recognized something in each other.

Or maybe it was my body recognizing that I’d had too much vodka and Hollywood rom-coms.

Slasher movies from now on.

Snow.

The way he looked at my lips, the pure hunger in his gaze, the kind of hunger I thought myself immune to, now rivaled anything I’d felt when on one of the many crazy diets I’d done over the years. It was like I hadn’t had carbs in seventeen years and he was a big bowl of pasta.

I licked my lips without knowing, until his eyes flared in a way that had my panties dampening.

More drink was needed to weather this storm. Much more. I fastened my hands around the stem of my now empty glass. “Martini,” I said by answer, lifting my empty glass.

He raised a brow, eyes flickering with amusement. “Martini? Strange name, but you seem like you’re one of a kind, and you Americans do like your weird names. Can I get you a drink, Martini? Perhaps a beer?”

Again, I pursed my lips in battle with my smile. “I’m quite capable of getting my own,” I replied icily. “How about you go try to charm the panties off a girl who might actually fall for a man like you.” I gestured to his body with my empty glass.

He shifted on his feet, clad in what looked like those borderline cowboy boots that offended me greatly, even on cowboys. Though they also looked like motorcycle boots. Some sort of hybrid that should have looked stupid. But on him?

Drool.

“And a man like me would be?” he probed, eyes twinkling.

“Arrogant.” I held up a finger, preparing for a long list.

“Confident,” he countered.

“Pushy,” I continued, thinking my list was not as long as I had originally planned. Finding shortcomings in the Greek god with an accent, who I’d just met and had an unnatural need for, was proving harder than necessary.

And I was meant to be a writer, of a sort. You’d think I could at least embellish.

His eyes twinkled. “Sure of what I want. And not afraid to do whatever it takes to get it.” The way he said it, with that look in his eyes, with that distance that was too close and too far at the same time, stirred some kind of intuition in me that this man meant trouble.

And not the good kind.

My face didn’t flicker from the blank expression I’d schooled on it, but my eyes narrowed. “A man like you is too reliant on his outward physical characteristics, a couple of muscles, a nice face shape and a cheeky smile. Throw in the accent, and I’m sure you’re used to it. This—” I waved my hand between us. “—walking up to girls and saying a couple of lines and then sliding that tight ass right into bed with them. Problem here is, I’m not a girl. I’m a woman. And I stopped being wowed by all of those things around the time I stopped putting Johnny Depp posters on my walls.” I nodded to the sweet butts. “They’ll be all over this, though. Remember, herpes is for life.”

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