Authors: Leddy Harper
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, dead or alive, are a figment of the author’s imagination and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s mind's eye and are not to be interpreted as real.
Copyright © 2014 Leddy Harper
All rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author.
Cover Design by
The Final Wrap
This is dedicated to my best friend, Amanda Ledford.
Without her, there would be no Eden.
The bar I was sitting in was loud and obnoxious. There was some game on, but I wasn’t paying it any attention. I had such an aggravating day that all I wanted to do was sit alone and drink. I needed to pass a few hours before I went home. That was what I was dreading the most—home. It was no longer a pleasant place to be. But I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever. I was only asking for a few hours.
I didn’t want to be hit on either, but that didn’t keep the women from stopping and making lame comments about me sitting alone. Because, yeah, pointing out the obvious was a sure way for them to gain a seat next to me. Being hit on wasn’t something new to me. I was a fairly attractive man, in my opinion, and in the opinion of most females. I was tall and worked out almost religiously. I had blond hair, with neatly trimmed facial hair and blue eyes. I had been told on more than one occasion that my eyes looked like the sky. Like I cared what my eyes looked like. But nonetheless, I didn’t want to be hit on. I wanted to be left alone with my beer.
I hated the idiots that sat down at a table and did nothing but mess with their phones, so I made sure to leave mine in the car. What a stupid thing to do. Sitting by myself with nothing to do made me realize why those idiots were glued to their devices. It kept them from looking even more like an idiot, sitting in a sports bar, not watching the game, not hitting on chicks, and just not doing anything. All I had left to do was people watch. So, I watched people.
There was a young woman sitting alone at a high-top table about fifteen feet from me. She caught my eye. Her hair was dark red at the roots and turned brighter red about halfway down to the ends. I’d seen that type of style on women before and just thought it looked like a really bad dye job. But I hadn’t ever seen anything that looked like hers before. I actually liked it. That was probably what had grabbed my attention first. I hated hair, unless I was grabbing onto it and pulling. Other than that, hair was just hair. But not hers. Hers, I wanted to smell, feel, and of course, pull. But I knew I could never do that.
The other thing about her that caught my eye was the brightly colored ink on her left arm. I was a sucker for chicks with tattoos, but as I looked at hers, I thought they had the ability to make me their bitch.
I checked my pitcher of beer, sure I hadn’t had that much to warrant such thoughts. Half gone. Certainly not enough for me to have gone all desperate for some random girl with a few flowers on her skin.
Just as I looked back up from my table, I saw a guy sit down in front of her. I couldn’t see his face, only the back of his head, so I watched her instead. She didn’t look pleased to have him there. In fact, she looked rather irritated. Her beautiful face scrunched up as he talked.
I decided to give the creeper exactly one minute before I played the role of her hero for the night. I checked my watch every five seconds, waiting until sixty was up. Fuck it. The tool only got thirty. I was out of my seat and standing next to him, but I didn’t look at him. I couldn’t take my eyes off hers as she looked back at me in surprise.
“Can I help you, bro?” he asked.
I finally looked at him. He didn’t stand a chance. “Actually,
, you can. You can help me by leaving my girl alone.”
He glanced over to the girl in question, but I didn’t stop staring at him. I wanted him to feel the burning holes in the side of his face from my glare. I couldn’t tell what she was doing, but he looked back to me. That time, he looked extremely apologetic. I guess he knew what was good for him.
“Sorry,” he muttered as he excused himself from the stool he was sitting on.
I didn’t even wait until he was away from the table before I sat down, right where he was. I looked at her and smiled. I had to play the part while he was still there. But he hadn’t waited around and yet I couldn’t seem to wipe that ridiculous smile off my face. It only got more ridiculous once she smiled back at me.
“Let me know when he’s gone and I’ll go back to my table,” I told her. I couldn’t see where he went and didn’t want to look around for him.
“Why don’t you just stay here?” Her voice was so soft it felt like it slipped right over me and blanketed my body like satin sheets. I wanted to roll around in it. Or, just roll around in actual satin sheets with her while she spoke… or screamed. Didn’t matter much to me.
Damn it. I needed to get away from her. I already had enough problems at home without adding any more.
“Well, my pitcher is over there and I will be needing more very shortly,” I said, raising my nearly empty glass as proof.
“So, bring your pitcher over here. I’m sure it won’t be that difficult. You never know, he could come back and see you sitting at a different table from
. That wouldn’t look so good, now would it?” She was flirting with me. I could tell. I was rather used to girls flirting with me. What I wasn’t used to was not getting annoyed with it. I was screwed.
“What if your date shows up? I wouldn’t want to scare him off.” I probably sounded to her like I was trying to flirt back, but I honestly wasn’t—at least I had no intentions of it. I was probably subconsciously flirting. If it wasn’t intentional, then it wasn’t wrong, right?
I expected a smile, but I didn’t get one. Instead, I got an eye roll and a shake of her head, which made her hair move across her shoulders and my hands itch to touch it. I didn’t know what it was about her, but she was making me think things I hadn’t thought since I was in high school.
“Never mind. Just go back to your table,” she mumbled and then looked down at her glass.
I was completely caught off guard, which didn’t happen often. “Did you want to be left alone?”
She looked back up at me with her dark eyes. I couldn’t tell what color they actually were in the dim lighting of the bar, but I knew they weren’t brown, just some other shade of dark. She rolled them again before speaking, and it felt like entirely too long before her next words.
“Well, I came here to relax and enjoy my night. Wasn’t necessarily planning on being alone. But I most certainly won’t beg for your company. If you’d rather be alone, then by all means, go. You came over here, so I just thought you wanted some company. Seems as though your date stood you up.”
Something in me died. Not in the
my heart stopped beating from her words
kind of die, but more of a
she just crushed my ego and it died
kind of die. That most definitely didn’t happen often. No. It never happened. What the hell was she doing to me?
I didn’t let any of that show, though. I smirked and said, “I don’t get stood up, sweetheart.”
“Do I look like your sweetheart to you?” She looked pissed, but her words were said with humor. I couldn’t tell which emotion she felt. “Listen, thank you for saving me from that douche bag, but really, you don’t have to stay. I’m a big girl, I think I can handle myself from now on.”
“Have a nice night,” I said with a nod and walked away.
She looked at her drink without saying anything in return.
I walked over to my table but didn’t bother sitting down. I grabbed my pitcher of beer and stalked right back over to where she sat. She didn’t even bother looking up until I set the pitcher on her table and sat down in the seat I vacated less than ten seconds before.
“Hi, my name is Dane and I’m here alone—but I most certainly wasn’t stood up in case you were thinking that. You may not want company, but I do. Would you mind if I sat down with you so I don’t look like such a loser?” I watched that smile spread across her face again. “There was this chick a little bit ago that accused me of being stood up and I don’t want people getting that impression. You’d be doing me and my ego a great service by keeping me company.”
And then she laughed. She opened her mouth and tilted her head back, revealing the most beautiful neck I had ever seen. I would have kept staring at her bare neck and her hair that fell back behind her, but she let out the most contagious laugh I had ever heard. It wasn’t contagious in the sense it made me want to laugh. No. It was contagious in the sense that it made me want to continuously make her do it so I could listen to it all night.
“All right then, Dane, please, have a seat so I can make you look good.”
“That wouldn’t take much. I’m a rather good-looking individual all on my own.”
“Oh, you think so?”
“Oh, I know so. You’re sitting with me aren’t you?” I teased.
Her brows pinched together in thought, she wasn’t expecting that. “Actually, you came to me—twice.” I could tell she was trying to keep her smile from arising, but all it did was cause her to smirk, and it was the sexiest smirk in the history of smirks. And I would know… I was the king of smirks.
“That’s not what the boys at the office will hear tomorrow.”
“Oh, Lord. I think I’m regretting letting you sit down.”
I couldn’t help but laugh and it felt damn good. I hadn’t laughed in so long. Not even a little bit. I suddenly never wanted to go home. Not after a few hours, not after a few days. Never. I wanted to sit across from her forever and hear her laugh and see her smile and just be... happy.
“Can I at least get your name?” I asked.
“Eden,” she answered as she brought her glass to her lips. Her lips. Such sexy, pouty, bright red lips. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes away from them as they wrapped around her straw and puckered. Her lips. Puckered. Me. Fucked.
“Of course, it is.”
“What does that mean?” she asked seriously.
I didn’t want her serious. I wanted her smiling. I wanted her happy. I wanted her…
. Go figure, the first woman to tempt me in twelve years would be named after the garden of all temptation. She was appropriately named.
“Nothing,” I responded with a smile. “So, Eden, what brings you here all alone and desperate for my company?”
“Wow, you really are full of yourself, aren’t you?”
“No, not really. I was just hoping I’d say it enough you’d start believing it.”
“You want me to believe that I’m desperate for your company?”
I shrugged my shoulders. Truth be told, I was desperate for hers, I just didn’t want her or anyone else to know it. I especially didn’t want me to know it. I couldn’t admit that. It would bring up far too many questions and feelings of guilt if I did.
I didn’t answer her, so she decided to answer my question anyway. “I have a job interview tomorrow and I’m very nervous about it. So I figured I’d get some drinks to mellow out.”
“Just don’t get too mellow, wouldn’t want to be hammered during your interview.”
“Vodka-water. The vodka makes the night fun, and the water makes the next day easy.”
“Hmmm… I like your logic. So where’s this interview at?”
I choked on my beer but played it off. I hoped she didn’t notice. “Oh, really? And what position are you interviewing for?” I didn’t want to show too much interest, but I didn’t want her to think I didn’t care, either. I probably just ended up looking like a desperate, coughing fool.
“Anything. I’d literally take anything at this point. I moved here last week straight from college and I don’t know a damn soul. If they offer me the mailroom, I’d take it. I can’t promise everyone will get their mail, but I’d do a damn good job trying. I can copy papers. There might even be a few copies of my ass floating around, but I’ll deny it. If someone shows me how to work a coffee pot then I can do that, too. If anyone complains about coffee grounds in their coffee, I’ll just tell them that’s how they do it in France.”
I laughed and she followed suit. I didn’t want to stop laughing, fearing it would make her stop as well. And I never wanted that to happen. But she eventually did and I had to stop, too. I didn’t want to come off as some fucking weirdo that laughed for ten straight minutes.
“No, I applied for a PR position. But I’m serious; I’d take anything they offered.”
“PR, huh? That’s what you went to school for?”
“Ironically, no. But that’s the only position hiring.”
That was a lie. There were several positions available; their advertisements were all over the paper in the jobs wanted section. I wanted to ask her why she lied, but figured it was a mistake. She did just move there, maybe she didn’t read the paper and only knew of the one position. I decided to let it go.