Authors: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff


9.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Carlos, you’ve never trained me to work with those knives. Do you really want me bleeding all over the customers?” She was a regular waitress, the one who served wine, side dishes, and anything else that was not meat roasted on a giant skewer and then sliced off in little strips right at the table. It required a steady hand used to working with a sharp knife and the ability to balance what was basically a sizzling hot sword stacked with meat in the other.

“You are an actress,” Carlos said, “so act.” He headed into the back office to start calling every waitperson on the roster, but it was Friday night in L.A. He wouldn’t get anyone. That meant she and the two other waiters would have to cover the entire restaurant on the busiest damned night of the week. Not that the place was huge—about twenty-five tables total—but they were going to be swamped.

I hope the guests are into finger food, ’cause one of them will be getting mine on their plate tonight.
She headed to the kitchen locker room to find a costume and put on her

Ten minutes later, she emerged into the dining room, tucking her white blouse into her black gaucho pants—kind of like capris with some serious flare. She’d tied up her long brown hair into a tight bun for safety reasons, and then used a red scarf to hide the scratch marks on her neck. She’d been waking up with them all over her body lately, the results of stress and nightmares, she guessed.

She turned the corner and slammed right into something warm that smelled like sinful manly deliciousness—leather and freshly cut wood and some other floral notes she couldn’t pinpoint.

When her gaze traveled up, up, up, two bright turquoise-blue eyes stared down at her with amusement.

“Oh God,” she said. “I’m so sorry.” She jerked her hands back from the man and watched a devilish smile form on his two sexy lips. With the short black beard he sported, his mouth looked like a sexual centerpiece, created for serious adoration.

“No worries,” he said, with a slightly accented voice as deep as the ocean and as silky as her black panties.

Panties? What panties?
Hers had just melted off.

Sadie tried to pull her eyes away, but looking at his face was addictive.
He’s so goddamned beautiful.
Slightly high cheekbones, square jaw, straight nose with a faded scar across the bridge. That short dark hair was kind of a mess, like he’d just showered and dried it with a towel, but the rest of him looked like sleek sex in a dark suit—tall, lean, and muscular, with an air of old-world sophistication. Or maybe not sophistication as much as it was…well, she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“Eh-hem,” a woman nearby cleared her throat, knocking Sadie back to reality.

Reluctantly, Sadie peeled her eyes from the gorgeous, tall, godlike man and found a slender brunette with long hair, bulgy eyes—sort of like a reptile might have—wearing a skimpy black dress, and hanging on his arm.

How embarrassing
. She’d totally been caught drooling over this woman’s date.

“Can we be seated now?” the woman said in a bitchy tone.

“Oh. Uh…” Sadie looked around the crowded restaurant. The hostess was busy serving water. Everyone was doing three jobs tonight. “Right this way.”

She turned to show them to a table and caught the man not so subtly looking her over and smirking.
Thanks, buddy. Like the outfit? Just wait until you see me with the sword
. It would only get better.

As she weaved through the tables, she tried not to pay too much attention to the tower of hot man oozing sex and raw male virility behind her. But something about the way he carried himself made it hard not to sneak a few peeks. He wore a very expensive-looking suit over that muscular frame, but he definitely didn’t act like some nouveau riche, superficial Beverly Hills douche bag that were a dime a dozen in this city.
This guy even smelled different. And he definitely made her womanly bits perk up their little ears like a pack of tiny crotch wolves who scented something delicious in the air.

Crotch wolves? Seriously, Sadie.

“Here you go.” She gestured toward the small empty table, trying her best not to make eye contact with the man and his smoldering turquoise gaze.

The woman’s face twisted with disgust. “I’m not sitting there. It’s too close to the kitchen. It’s all smoky.”

It wasn’t smoky, but Sadie didn’t want to argue with a customer, and after drooling over the woman’s date, she kind of felt bad, too.

“Not a problem,” Sadie said, “uh…”
The only other table was across the restaurant in her section.
Just great.
Now I have to try not to drool on the guy while I serve his food.
“Right this way.”

While she walked them to the table, she felt his eyes on her the entire time, the air between them growing sexually electric. Or was she imagining it?

“I’ll be right back with menus,” Sadie said nervously, once they reached the empty table in the corner. As she turned away, she noticed the reptile-eyed woman waiting for the huge, magnificent man to pull out her chair. Instead, he sat himself down, continuing to keep his eyes locked hungrily on Sadie.

Oh, my god. That man is so hot. And he so should not be looking at me.
Just like she should not be looking at him. The customer. On a date with a woman.

When Sadie returned with menus, the woman was snarling at her date, who seemed too occupied to give a crap, his cold, fierce gaze scanning the restaurant almost like he sensed some sort of threat. It instantly put her on edge.

“Here are your menus,” Sadie said. “Have either of you had
before?” Sadie clasped her hands together to keep them from trembling.

The man looked up at her with those shockingly icy blue-green eyes, which he then slid down her body, slowly sweeping her from head to toe before settling on her breasts for a few seconds too long.

“Yes,” he finally replied, in a deep sensual voice laced with an ominous vibe. “However, I like the sound of your voice. Continue talking.”

Thinking he’d made a joke, Sadie laughed anxiously.

He didn’t laugh with her. “Do I amuse you, woman?”

She blinked. Had he really called her “woman,” like some medieval barbarian? “Uh, no sir. Sorry, sir. I was just thinking of a joke someone told me earlier.”

He gave a cool nod. “Go on.”

“Oh, yes. Well, we serve the meat here straight from the kitchen’s fire pit, right at your table. If you prefer, however, we also have menu items—a selection of vegetarian or fish entrees. The side dishes are also listed there. May I start you off with a salad?”

He flashed her a stern look. “I meant the joke. I want to hear what is so damned funny.”

“Andrus,” his date snapped, “let the woman get back to work.”

His name was Andrus. Funny how it suited him—strong, classic, masculine.
With a pinch of jerk.

He slowly peeled his eyes off of Sadie and moved them to his date. “Silence, Alexis.”

Oh. Make that a side helping of jerk. She never would put up with that kind of crap from a man no matter how hot and mysterious. On the other hand, something about this guy screamed dark and dangerous, like the sort of guy you should stay away from if you valued your life.

“Umm…I’ll be back with those salads.” Sadie scurried away, feeling the man’s eyes locked onto her until she reached the sanctuary of the kitchen, where she let out a long breath and tried to calm her heart. He literally made her quake in her sensible black flats. At the same time, he was so beautiful, looking at him provoked this gnawing need to look again.

I definitely shouldn’t be serving that guy

She quickly went to work making ten plates of salads for several tables and laying them out on a huge tray while the other waiters rushed in and out. She grabbed Steve, a sandy blond preppy type, as he headed for the drink machine.

“Hey, can you switch sections with me?” she asked.

“No way, man. I have a party of ten and the tip is mandatory.”

She didn’t want to wait on Mr. Hottie and his date, Snapping Turtle.

She took a quick breath, propped the tray on her shoulder, and set out to the dining room. When she left the salads for the giant, scary, sexy, rude man, he and his date were thankfully busy bickering. Something about demigods being bigger badasses than vampires.

Okay. Weird convo. Keep moving.

After the salads were out, she made the rounds with bar drinks and water. When she got to the last table, her heart made a little flip. The man was staring at her with that hard, sensual gaze. And now he sat alone.

She tried to smile politely, but her mouth didn’t want to seem to go in that direction. “Do you know what your date would like to drink, si-si-sir?” Her hand shook violently as she reached to fill his water glass.

He snagged her wrist. “Who are you?” he asked, but his tone felt like more of an accusation.

She froze with the glass in her trembling hand, the pitcher of water in the other. “I’m s-sorry?” she stuttered.

His thumb made soft little circles on the inside of her wrist. “Why are you shaking?”

“Let me go,” she whispered, liking the feel of his touch way more than she should.

He grinned devilishly and dipped his head, his eyes never leaving her face. “As you like. But tell me your name first.”

“Sadie,” she said.

He released her, leaving behind sharp little tingles over her wrist. She slapped her hand over the spot.

“Andrus,” said the man’s date, returning to the table, her big eyes twitching with anger, “did you order my wine?”

Still staring at Sadie, his grin grew large and cocky. “I would like two fingers of whatever sad excuse for scotch your bar stocks, and please bring my
a glass of Merlot. Thank you, Sadie.” Her name rolled off his tongue like a sexual innuendo.

Dear Lord. What is it with this guy?
The way he looked at her made her want to get naked with him. And run away.
So weird.

“Be right back.” She went to the bar toward the front of the restaurant, placed their order, and grabbed a glass filled with ice water to roll across her forehead. She’d never in her life felt like this before.
But this guy…this guy…fuck, he’s scary hot. And just plain scary.

How would she make it through the rest of his meal?

A few minutes later, it was time to make the rounds with the first meat course: sirloin steaks that were folded onto a long hot skewer for cooking, and then sliced thinly at the table right onto the customer’s plate.

She’d seen it done many times, but had never served the dish herself.

With her right hand, she tried to grip both the handle of the sharp knife and the top of the piping-hot, three-foot-long skewer while trying to hold on to the slippery metal juice tray in the other hand.

Once situated, she headed out of the kitchen and stopped.
were supposed to start at the far end of the room and work their way back toward the kitchen.
That meant serving the gorgeous, scary man first.

She awkwardly maneuvered the gargantuan kabob and made her way over, almost dropping the entire thing on the floor twice.

“Would you care for some steak?” she asked, approaching the table, trying her best to smile. The man caught a glimpse of her and sprang from his seat in a blur. She fell back, her meat skewer and knife going only God knew where, and landed on the tile floor with a hard thump, knocking the wind from her.

The crazy man pressed her arms above her head to the floor, his entire body covering hers. “What is the fucking meaning of this?” he growled in her face. “Who are you?”

Gasping for air, her body crushed under his weight, she tried to scream but couldn’t. Or didn’t want to. His warmth and hardness on top of her momentarily vanquished all thoughts of reason from her mind. The only thing that seemed to matter was the sensation of his body nestled between her legs, his hip bone—or something hard—pressing right into her, coaxing all sorts of tingles and sexual aches.

Commotion erupted in the restaurant, snapping Sadie back into awareness that she was lying on the restaurant floor underneath this large man, who was actually assaulting her.

“You think you can take me down with a little knife?” he snarled.

“Dammit, Andrus. You barbaric asshole,” barked the man’s date, “she was not trying to attack you, she was trying to serve you meat.”

A moment passed as the man stared into her eyes, still lying right on top of her, his cock nestled right up against her crotch. She felt his heart pounding away in his chest, the rhythm strangely matching her own frantic beats, like two war drums pounding together.

Ohmygod. What am I doing enjoying this?

You are not. You’re offended!

Yes. I am.

His eyes moved to her lips and then a cocky, devious smile worked onto his mouth. “Whoops. Guess I overreacted,” he said in a slow, deep unabashed voice.

He thought this was funny? He’d knocked the wind out of her and everyone was staring while she’d experienced an embarrassingly erotic moment that proved she was nuts or completely hard up for a man.
Or into having public sex.

“Fucking asshole,” she snarled, catching her air, “get off.”

A wicked little smile flickered across his lips. “Perhaps later,” he whispered. “At present, I’m on a date.”

“Gah!” She pushed him back.

He rose to his feet and held out his hand while his eyes gave her a smug, knowing look. He knew exactly what had just happened to her: She’d liked it.

She glanced at his hand and that amused smile and lost it. “Take that hand and shove it up your ass.”

“Sadie!” Carlos appeared in a gaucho outfit. “What is going on?”

Sadie got up off the floor and pointed at Andrus. “This man just attacked me.”

Andrus nodded. “Yes. However, it was just a simple misunderstanding. I suffer from PTSD or whatever you people call it these days.” He shrugged.

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