I blinked up—and up—at the man pressed close to me at the crowded bar. He was roughly the size of a redwood, and nodded toward the bartender to indicate his meaning. “You never yell at a bartender, Petal. Especially not with what you’re going to order: Pete hates making girly drinks.”
Of course. It would be just my luck to meet a gorgeous man just days after swearing off men forever. A man with a British accent to boot. The universe was a hilarious bitch.
“How do you know what I was going to order?” My grin grew wider, hopefully matching his, but most likely looking a lot tipsier. I was grateful for the drinks I’d already had, because sober Sara would give him monosyllables and an awkward nod and be done with it. “Maybe I was going to get a pint of Guinness. You never know.”
“Unlikely. I’ve seen you ordering tiny purple drinks all night.”
He’d been watching me all night? I couldn’t decide if that was fantastic, or a little creepy.
I shifted on my feet and he followed my movements. He had angled features with a sharp jaw and a carved hollow beneath his cheekbones, eyes that seemed backlit and heavy, dark brows, a deep dimple on his left cheek when the grin spread down to his lips. This man had to be well over six feet, with a torso it would take my hands many moons to explore.
The bartender returned, then looked at the man beside me expectantly. My beautiful stranger barely raised his voice, but it was so deep it carried without effort: “Three fingers of Macallan’s, Pete, and whatever this lady is having. She’s been waiting a spell, yeah?” He turned to me, wearing a smile that made something dormant warm deep in my belly. “How many fingers would you like?”
His words exploded in my brain and my veins filled with adrenaline. “What did you just say?”
Innocence. He tried it on, smoothing it over his features. Somehow he made it work, but I could see from the way his eyes narrowed that there wasn’t an innocent cell in his body.
“Did you really just offer me three fingers?” I asked.
He laughed, spreading out the biggest hand I’d ever seen on the bar just between us. His fingers were the kind that could curl around a basketball and dwarf it. “Petal, you’d best start with two.”
I looked more closely at him. Friendly eyes, standing not too close, but close enough that I knew he had come to this part of the bar specifically to talk to me. “You give good innuendo.”
The bartender rapped the bar with his knuckles and asked for my order. I cleared my throat, steeling myself. “Three bl*w j*bs.” I ignored his irritated huff and turned back to my stranger.
“You don’t sound like a New Yorker,” he said, grin fading slightly but never leaving his constantly smiling eyes.
“Touché. Born in Leeds, worked in London, and moved here six years ago.”
“Five days,” I admitted, pointing to my chest. “From Chicago. The company I used to work for opened an office here and brought me back on to head up Finance.”
Whoa, Sara. Too much information. Way to enable stalkers.
It had been so long since I’d even looked at another man. Clearly Andy had been a master in this kind of situation, but unfortunately I had no idea how to flirt anymore. I glanced back to where I expected to see Julia and Chloe dancing, but I couldn’t find them in the tangle of bodies on the floor. I was so rusty in this ritual I was practically revirginized.
“Finance? I’m a numbers man myself,” he said, and waited until I looked back at him before turning the smile up a few notches. “Nice to see women doing it. Too many grouchy men in trousers having meetings just to hear themselves say the same thing over and over.”
Smiling, I said, “I’m grouchy sometimes. I also wear trousers sometimes, too.”
I narrowed my eyes. “That means something else in British, doesn’t it? Are you giving me innuendo again?”
His laugh spread warm across my skin. “Pants are what you Americans so blandly call ‘underwear.’?” When he said this, the “un” sounded like a noise he might make during sex, and something inside me melted. While I gaped at him, my stranger tilted his head, looking me over. “You’re rather sweet. You don’t look like you come to these kinds of establishments very often.”
He was right, but was it that obvious? “I’m really not sure how to take that.”
“Take it as a compliment. You’re the freshest thing in this place.” He cleared his throat and looked to where Pete was returning with my shots. “Why are you carrying all these sticky drinks out to the dance floor?”
“My friend just got engaged. We’re doing the girls’ night out thing.”
“So then you’re unlikely to leave here with me.”
I blinked, and then blinked again, hard. With this frank suggestion, I was officially out of my depth. Way out of my depth. “I . . . what? No.”
“You’re serious? You just met me.”
“And already I have a strong urge to devour you.” His words were delivered slowly, almost a whisper, but they rang through my head like a cymbal crash. It was obvious he wasn’t new to this kind of interaction—the proposition of no-strings-attached sex—and although I was, when he looked at me like that I knew I was bound to follow him anywhere.
Every shot I’d had seemed to hit me all at once and I weaved a little in front of him. He steadied me with his hand on my elbow, grinning down at me.
I blinked back into awareness, feeling my head clear slightly. “Okay, when you smile at me like that, I want to climb you. And God knows it’s been forever since I’ve been properly manhandled.” I looked him up and down, all pretense of polite society apparently gone. “And something tells me you could more than do the job—I mean, holy hell, look at you.”
And I did. Again. I took a steadying breath and was met with his amused grin. “But I’ve never just randomly hooked up with some stranger at a bar, and I’m here with friends, celebrating the awesome marriage they’re going to have, and so”—I gathered up my shots—“we’re going to do these.”
He nodded once, slowly, his smile turning a little brighter, as if he’d just accepted a challenge. “Okay.”