Home > Floored (Frenched #3)(11)

Floored (Frenched #3)(11)
Author: Melanie Harlow

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As if he were a gentleman, Charlie held the door open for me and stood behind me in line. “Your hair smells good.”

I looked at him over my shoulder, eyes narrowed. “Thank you.”

“What’s with the suspicious face?”

“The manners. The compliment. So unlike you.”

He laughed. “You knew Charlie Dwyer, the boy, Erin. You don’t know Charlie Dwyer, the man.”

“Ha. Charlie Dwyer, the man, is a nice guy, then?”

He hesitated. “Sometimes.”

Why that made my core muscles clench, I had no idea—well, I had an idea, but it wasn’t anything I wanted to advertise, so I turned around and faced the counter again before Charlie could see me blush.

Charlie insisted on paying for my pumpkin spice latte, for which I was grateful, since I was down to my last couple dollars. As always on a Saturday afternoon, Starbucks was crowded, and there were no available tables inside. “You want to sit outside?” he asked.

“I guess we could. If it’s not too cold.” I didn’t have a coat on, just a navy blue Detroit Tigers hoodie.

“You a baseball fan?” Charlie asked once we’d settled at our sidewalk table. It was cool and windy, temperatures in the low fifties, but the crisp air smelled like dead leaves, which sounds weird but is a scent I love.

“Yeah. I guess so. My dad used to take my brother and me to games when we were kids.” I took the lid off my cup so it would cool off faster. “What about you?”

“I like the Tigers. I’m a bigger Wings fan, though.”

“That’s right. You played hockey as a kid, didn’t you?”

He nodded, picking up his plain black coffee and taking a long swallow. “Yep. I still play, just for fun. And for exercise.”

I warmed my hands on the outside of my cup. “I’m a terrible skater but I know it’s really good for your legs. Your endurance too.”

“I haven’t had anyone complain about my endurance so far.”

I rolled my eyes but felt that little kick of excitement in my belly again. “Of course not.”

“You’re a terrible skater?”

“Yeah. I mean, I haven’t been on the ice in years, but I remember being pretty bad. As a dancer, I like feeling sure of my feet on the floor, you know? Ice is too slippery!” I laughed. “But it’s OK. I’m sure a lot of good skaters wouldn’t be good dancers.”

“Oh, I’m an awesome dancer.” Charlie took another sip of his coffee, so I couldn’t read his face, but I gaped at him. Was he really that conceited?

“Shut up. Are you serious?”

He lowered the cup to the table and I saw the teasing smile. “No. I’m not a dancer. But I’ve got good rhythm.”

My neck warmed, and I hoped the flush wasn’t showing above my hoodie. “I’m sure you do.”

He leaned forward. “Are you? Maybe you should test it.”

I crossed my legs. “No.”

Sighing, he leaned back in his chair. “Suit yourself.”

God, that slow smile. It was starting to get to me. “But you could come to my adult class sometime.”

“You teach adults too?”

“Yes. You live around here?”

“About half an hour away.”

“Well, my studio is in St. Clair Shores. And I have a Wednesday night social dance class every week in November and December.”

“Social dance? Like with a partner?”

“Yes, but you don’t have to have a partner. There are usually extra women there.” And wouldn’t they love to see Charlie walking in the door!

“Do I get to dance with you?”

Sure, how about a hot, sweaty, naked horizontal mambo? I lifted my shoulders. “Maybe.” Bringing my cup to my lips, I took a sip, scalding my tongue. In fact, I was feeling hot all over. Better move to a safer topic. Guys liked to talk about themselves, right? And Charlie Dwyer struck me as the kind of guy whose favorite topic of discussion was Charlie Dwyer. I’ll try that. “So how long have you been a cop?”

“About seven years. You have whipped cream on your nose.”

I wiped my nose with my napkin. “Gone?”

He grinned. “I’m not telling. It’s sort of cute.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Do you like police work?”

“Mostly. It’s not exactly what I thought I’d do, but I needed a steady job and I’d studied criminal justice for a few years at Purdue.”

“Really? Did you graduate from there?”

“No, I never finished my degree. I had some…personal issues and had to drop out.” He fiddled with the plastic lid of his cup. “Anyway, I needed work and didn’t want a desk job. Police work suits me in that way.” He didn’t elaborate on the personal issues, and I didn’t feel like I should press him, although I was crazy curious. “But I’d always thought about moving back up here. Then last year, my grandfather had some health problems, so the timing seemed right. Your family still in the area?”

“Yes. But my parents are divorced now.”

“Really?” Charlie seemed genuinely surprised. “I guess you never know what’s going on in anyone’s house, but your family always seemed really happy.”

“We were, in a way. Most of the time.” I hesitated before opening up a little more. “My dad has always been very charming and outgoing, but he’s sort of a functioning alcoholic. He was a great dad, but he was awful to my mother in private.”

   
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