Page 16

 Lauren Layne

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I jerk my head in the direction of the passenger side and move my purse to the backseat as he comes around the side of the car.
“Okay, but I get something in return,” I say.
“You’re not going to make a hooker out of me, are you?” he asks, dropping his duffel into the backseat before sitting beside me. He moves the seat all the way back to accommodate his long legs.
“Tempting,” I say. “It has been a while since I’ve felt the crispy texture of the male body.”
Michael stares at me. “Crispy?”
I wave my hand in the vicinity of his long torso. “Body hair.”
Actually, it’s been sort of like ever since I’ve put my hands on a guy in that way, but I’m not about to tell a guy who probably lost his virginity before the rest of his grade hit puberty.
With dark, moody eyes like that, I bet something as simple as a wink from St. Claire makes panties just melt right off.
Too late, I realize I’ve said all that out loud, and instead of clamming up like I expect him to whenever I try to engage him in conversation for more than two straight minutes, Michael grins at me. “Want to find out?”
For a second I’m dazzled, because damn if he doesn’t have a little dimple in his left cheek. “Find out what?” I ask.
“If my winking makes panties fall off.”
“Don’t bother,” I say, pulling out of the parking spot and heading out of the Cambridge lot. “I’m not wearing any.”
Michael makes a choking sound, and I give him a nervous look out of the corner of my eye. “Sorry,” I say. “These things just sort of come out…. I forget that what’s sexy from other girls doesn’t always translate.”
Beefcake stares straight ahead and opens his mouth like he wants to say something, but then he shuts it and remains silent.
I tell myself I’m not disappointed that he clammed up. I mean, Michael’s not a friend; he’s just my personal trainer and probably a total womanizer, and yet …
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
He moves his eyes to me without actually turning his head. “Tell me you’re not asking me on a date.”
“Yeah,” I reply, stopping at a light and turning my head to face him. “I’m feeling real sexy in these here man shorts with dried sweat on my face, and I was thinking now would be the perfect time to seduce you. Is it working?”
Michael’s eyes crinkle a little at the corners. “You really going commando in those shorts?”
I wiggle my eyebrows. “Wouldn’t you like to know? Also, hurry up and decide. I’m starving.”
His top teeth dig into his bottom lip for a half second, and holy crap is that a sexy move.
If you like that type of thing, of course.
“Okay,” he says. “But only because it’ll give me a chance to see if you’re eating habits are as bad as your exercise habits.”
“Oh, you’re in for a treat,” I say, making a U-turn and heading toward my favorite hole-in-the-wall BBQ place.
And Michael actually brings up a good point about watching me eat. As hideous as the prospect is, there’s nothing like a ripped, zero-body-fat personal trainer to help you limit yourself to one piece of cornbread instead of the usual four.
And that’ll help distract me from the real reason I asked if he wanted to go to dinner.
Because he’d looked lonely.
Or the real real reason.
Because I’m lonely, too.
Chapter 7
I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this, but watching a woman enjoy food—really enjoy food—is surprisingly sexy.
Not that Chloe Bellamy is sexy.
She’s a mess, and I don’t just mean her horribly ugly shorts or out-of-control hair, or the fact that she has BBQ sauce on her chin.
Mentally, she’s a cluttered train wreck, and emotionally … I don’t even know.
But when she takes a tiny nibble of cornbread like it’s better than sex?
I shift in the uncomfortable booth seat and try to think of something else.
I try to think of the way Kristin felt in my arms for that brief minute when I’d helped her with her swing.
Chloe licks a bit of BBQ sauce off her full top lip, and my thoughts of Kristin and her tiny tennis skirt scatter.
“So what’s your story, Beefcake?”
I sigh and give up on thinking about Kristin.
It’s damn hard to think about anything other than the girl who’s currently helping herself to one of my ribs.
I let her have the rib, but pull my cornbread closer, because it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted, and that includes dishes from every fancy restaurant in New York you’ve ever heard of.
“My story?” I ask warily.
She waves her rib in my direction. “Well, you’re not from around here. You’re all Yank. Boston?”
“New York. Boston accents are a whole different thing.”
She shrugs. “Sounds the same to us.”
I lean forward a little. “Well, having driven through all of the South on my way here, I can say that you Texans sound an awful lot like the folks in Atlanta, and sort of like all of Louisiana, and you Texans sound just like—”
“Stop!” she shrieks in her Texan accent, which is very distinct, by the way. “You wound me. And what do you mean, on your way here? You drove to Texas? From New York? Just for kicks?”
I take a sip of beer and look at my plate.