Home > Man Candy(9)

Man Candy(9)
Author: Melanie Harlow

“Oh, that’s right. You did tell me that. And is this something you announce on the first date?”

“No, smartass, it isn’t. But I don’t think it hurts anyone to be honest up front about where dating me can and cannot go. So I lay it all out there.”

I nodded, setting my wine glass aside. “OK, then. Lay it on me.”

“Why?”

“Maybe I want to take you on a date.”

She made a face. “I’m not going on a date with you.”

“Why not? My mom said I’m a good catch.”

“I don’t trust you.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

“I don’t want a boyfriend.”

“I said one date.”

Her head tilted and she gave me a sassy look. “Maybe I’m not attracted to you.”

Liar. There’s something here and you know it. I gave her a slow smile. “Maybe.”

“So I’m sure you’re not used to hearing this, but you keep your hands to yourself. Got it?”

It was a bluff, and I couldn’t resist calling it.

I moved slowly, closing the space between us in three steps and caging her against the fridge with a hand on either side of her face. My upper body barely brushed against hers. I stared her down hard, felt the quick rise and fall of her chest. “Got it, sweet pea.”

She hesitated, but then lifted her chin slightly, daring me to kiss her. We stood like that a few more seconds, each of us waiting for the other to back down or give in.

A game of chicken—just like the old days.

But despite her tempting mouth, I quickly strategized that kissing her now would be a mistake. The little minx had just told me she wasn’t attracted to me—I couldn’t give her what she wanted yet. I hadn’t missed what she said about no-strings sex (and believe me, my dick had taken that as an invitation and went looking for his party hat), but I didn’t want that from her.

I backed off. “Well, thanks for the drink. This was nice.”

She blinked, her icy facade in a puddle at her feet. “You’re leaving?”

“Yeah, I should get back downstairs and finish unpacking.”

“Oh. OK.” She cleared her throat. “Yeah, that’s good. I actually have some work to do tonight.”

I walked out of the kitchen, glad she was behind me and couldn’t see the grin on my face. In the living room, she shouldered past me and pulled open the door. Then she stood behind it like it was some sort of shield, making it impossible to even hug her.

“Thanks for the wine. Don’t drink too much, now.” I gave her ponytail a tug before heading out the door, like I used to when she was just Alex’s little sister, gratified at the annoyed expression it put on her face.

“You’re welcome,” she snapped, letting me know I was anything but.

The sound of her door slamming behind me made me smile even bigger.

She was something else. Feisty as she was back then and ten times hotter.

I bet she’s a firecracker in bed. I bet she likes to be on top and call the shots, which I’d happily allow her to do, but that also means it would be an even bigger challenge—and maybe even more fun—to subdue her.

For a moment my mind wandered to a place where I had her restrained, blindfolded, and on her knees.

Jesus.

I had to stop halfway down the stairs and adjust my pants again.

Back in my apartment, I finished unpacking and tried to study, but it was useless—I couldn’t stop thinking about her. And not just sexual stuff, either.

OK yeah, mostly sexual stuff.

But I didn’t want to just fuck her. She wasn’t some random girl at a bar in Prague I’d never see again (although we had fun that night, didn’t we, Veronika?). She was someone from my past I felt a connection with. Someone I wanted to know better now. Someone who mattered to me.

Eventually my stomach started growling, so I went to the store for a few groceries, and when I got home, I noticed her living room lights were still on. I thought about knocking on her door, inviting her down for chicken Caesar salad. (“You have heard of salad before, right? It’s, like, lettuce and a few other delicious, healthy things in a bowl?”)

But I didn’t do it, because I knew she’d have turned me down. I was pretty good at reading people, and I had the feeling Jaime was a woman who liked things on her own terms, and if you weren’t willing to meet her terms, you could fuck right off—especially if your name was Quinn Rusek.

It made me smile.

I mean, she’d clearly wanted me to kiss her in the kitchen, if only to prove that I was the kind of guy who couldn’t keep my hands to myself.

But the more I thought about it, the more I was glad I’d backed away. I could play the long game with her, especially if the game was chicken.

When I kissed her—and I was going to kiss her—it was going to be on my terms.

I wanted her to come to me and admit she felt that spark. I wanted her to give me another chance. I wanted to do things differently with her.

But first, I wanted to make her sweat a little.

Then I wanted to make her sweat a lot.

Five

JAIME

I was fuming.

The nerve.

The fucking nerve of the guy.

He’d wanted to kiss me, I knew he had—so why didn’t he do it? Or had I misread him again? God, why was Quinn Rusek so hard for me to figure out? For crying out loud, I had degrees in psychology and marketing! I made a living out of studying people and strategizing how to make them behave a certain way. I was good at it. How did he have me so off my game?

   
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