Authors: Wynter S.K.
Copyright © 2016 by Wynter S.K.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, scanned, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover Design by Mary Ma
Formatting by Angela Shockley,
He'd imagined it going differently in his mind.
He'd imagined arriving at her apartment, picking her up, and going to dinner. It would be special, of course, because it was
, but it wouldn't be some earth-shattering occurrence that could change the course of his life. It was a date.
Yeah, fuckin' right.
Cillian sat in the plush chair, pulled up to a small, dark polished wood table for two, covered in a starched white linen tablecloth. The low murmur of voices, the soft clatter of silver on plates, and the soft overhead lighting from dangling crystal chandeliers coupled with the glowing candles on every table added to the ambiance and overall fanciness of La Cucina. He toyed with the stem of his water goblet, his lips drawing into a tight line as he stared at the empty seat across from him.
A waiter came to his side. “Have you decided on what you'd like to drink, sir?”
Cillian shook his head. “Not yet.”
“That's fine. Take your time, I'll come back in a few minutes.”
He flicked his head in acknowledgment and the waiter moved onto another table. Leaving the goblet alone, his fingers moved onto the napkin by his plate that he'd unfurled but hadn't placed in his lap. As he rolled the edges up, he stared at the elegant place setting across from him, the still-rolled napkin around the spotless silverware.
His stomach executed a triple backward somersault followed by a roundoff-back handspring combo, then furiously began crocheting itself into a tight little knot.
Get a goddamn grip, Ronan.
Things were not going as planned.
A flash of pink caught his gaze and his eyes zeroed in. He wondered if his pupils were dilated like Rocky's when he saw something he wanted to pounce on.
The beautiful girl in the pink dress made heads turn as she passed. She dropped into the seat across from him with an apologetic smile, placing her clutch purse on the table and working herself out of her white jacket.
His heart rate went from zero to a hundred.
“Sorry that took so long,” Sammi said. “I didn't fall in, if you were wondering. The ladies' room is
and apparently, half the women in this place had the idea to use it at the same time. Had a line literally out the door.”
“Oh. Okay. Uh. The waiter will be back in a minute. I wasn't sure what you wanted to drink, so I didn't order you anything. Sorry.”
Things were not going as planned, for the simple fact that...he was nervous as
Sammi tilted her head, her brow knitting with curiosity as she studied him. Cillian cleared his throat and lowered his gaze, fiddling with the edge of his napkin for the hundredth time.
“It's okay.” Sammi drummed her nails on the table. “Cillian—are you all right?”
His head snapped up. “What?”
“Are you doing okay?” Her delicate brows raised a fraction of an inch. “You've been really quiet since you picked me up. I feel like I did all the talking on the way here—probably talked too much.”
“No,” he blurted.
Fuckin' Mr. Debonair, Ronan.
He scrubbed the back of his neck. “I, uh—I'm fine. You didn't talk too much. I just—”
Her forehead creased with concern, and for a second, he lost himself in the depths of her big brown eyes. Then he huffed out a laugh and shook his head.
She smiled uncertainly. “What is it?”
Cillian stuck a finger in his collar and tugged it away from his neck. He met her gaze, smiling sheepishly. “I'm just a little...on edge, all of a sudden.”
Sammi drew her head back, one eyebrow shooting up. “Why?”
Her hand was still on the table, but her nails no longer drummed. Cillian's fingers crept toward hers, brushing them lightly.
“I guess...you're makin' me nervous.”
Her cheeks went pink and her dimples appeared like magic. “How am I making you nervous? I don't make people nervous, people make
make me nervous.”
“I guess I am because...whenever I look at you, I can barely remember my own name.”
The warm glow of her wide smile illustrated his point. “That's a good thing?”
“It means you're gorgeous.”
The pink flush on her cheeks darkened and she lowered her gaze to their fingers. “Well. Back atcha.” She scooted her hand a hair closer, the tip of her index finger stroking his.
Immediately his pulse took off at a frantic gallop again.
Easy. Down, boy.
The server reappeared with a pleasant smile. “Ready for drinks? Miss?”
“Oh, uh, sure.” Sammi scooped up the wine list, swinging her legs out to the side as she faced the waiter. “What's your house wine?”
Cillian immediately zoned out as his eyes landed on her shapely legs, crossed neatly, one pump dangling from her toe. They were toned from twenty-plus years of ballet, but still soft-looking. She didn't have the hard, slightly scary, super-chiseled calves that some dancers did; they were sleek and smooth, begging for his palm. The low lights of the restaurant highlighted the lotion on her skin into one golden beam straight down her shin bone. For an instant, an image of those legs wrapped around his waist flashed through his mind.
“And for you, sir?”
Cillian ripped his eyes from Sammi's legs with a deep breath, wondering exactly what he was being asked since he had no idea how long he'd been staring.
Think we're still on drinks...
“Uh, just club soda with lime for me, please.”
“Very good. I'll be back soon with your drinks and some of our house focaccia.” He turned on his heel and headed toward the kitchen.
“What did you end up ordering to drink?” Cillian asked.
Sammi smirked. “You were sitting right there.”
He lifted the corner of his mouth, blinking slowly as he met her eyes. “I was a little distracted.”
She held his gaze for a beat, then lowered her eyes to the menu. “Just the house red. What are you thinking about ordering?”
“I dunno. What do you suggest?”
“You strike me as a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. Right?”
He shrugged. “Irish. Guilty as charged.”
“I'm a little surprised you wanted to come here. I know you liked my mom's cooking but I thought you would've wanted to go to a steakhouse or something.” Sammi scanned the menu. “I think they have steaks here...”
“Just felt like tryin' somethin' different. I got pretty simple tastes, but I'm willing to try new things.” He took a swallow of ice water. “I'm just so used to sticking with my training diet, I forget there's a whole other gourmet world out here.”
“Well, then I'm glad I could be the one to guide you through it.” She glanced at him over the top of the menu. “The first time can be difficult for some.”
He arched a brow at her.
Did she just make a sex joke?
“What?” she said innocently, but the dimple in her cheek gave her away. She set the menu down. “By the way—thank you for taking me to dinner tonight. I really appreciate it. I haven't been on a fancy date since...right after college.”
“You're welcome. I'm happy to be the one to break your dry spell.” He bit his lip and glanced down.
Fucking hell, Ronan. Just wow.
“Uh. You know what I mean.”
Sammi giggled. “Yeah, I know what you mean. And I am too.” She hesitated, and that little line reappeared between her brows. “It's just...”
She sighed. “This place is kinda pricey. I know you have other things you could be doing with your money. I would've been fine with pizza and beer, or even another one of those cheesesteaks or something.”
“I thought this was your favorite place?”
. I just don't want you to think that you need to spend money on me like this.”