However, that being said, with any ending, there is always a new beginning. And sometimes both at the same time…
Enter, Vinter. Now that is a lovely way to end the year.
The bartender leaned against the polished, scarred wood of the bar. “Another one?”
Elise looked at the bottom of her glass and debated what the correct answer should be. Would she rather drive home or call a cab?
“Yes, let the lady have another.”
She turned her head at the man who had come to straddle the barstool next to hers. Short auburn hair, ice blue eyes, both arms covered in brightly colored tats, fingernails painted black, and a barely contained sex appeal reached out and enveloped her from her head all the way down to her toes. She wanted him. Right here, right now.
She cleared her throat, found her voice, and was pleased at its steadiness. “I appreciate it, but no. I think it’s time for me to call it a night.” In his bed would be a nice place to do that, but she’d just called a halt to all men for a while. Even gorgeous ones with hard dicks pressing against worn denim, and solid muscles framed to lean perfection beneath faded black tee shirts.
God, she needed to go home. He was way too tempting and her bruised ego was way too vulnerable.
Yes, why indeed. “It’s just time. Been a long day and all that.”
He reached out and stroked the back of her hand that was wrapped around the empty glass. “Going home alone?”
Would you like to come home with me? “Yes, alone.”
“Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like fun at all. Tell ya what. Why don’t you let me buy you another drink and you can fill me in on why it’s been such a long day. I’m a pretty good listener.”
He had a deliciously, well-defined mouth and Elise wanted to let her lips fall down on his. His voice rolled over her like a warm blanket, soft and comfortably deep. “The guy I’d been seeing ended things today. I got the text message at lunch.”
“Text message? You serious? Dumbass man.”
She tried not to smile but couldn’t help it. It was just a small smile, but nonetheless he answered her with one of his own and she swore her pussy melted in her jeans.
“No. I was the dumbass in this one. I really did know better and now, well, hindsight is twenty-twenty.” She shrugged and the bartender chose that moment to set another rum and Coke in front of her. The smell of the alcohol made her feel lightheaded. Whoa. She didn’t need to drink it, she could just inhale it. Instead of calling a cab, she would be sleeping on the floor beneath the stool she sat on.
“What did you know better about?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” She took a small sip of her new drink. The rum burned going down and it felt good. Tattoo man would feel better, but…
“He was married.”
“Oh. Yeah, that’s never good. Are you?”
“Am I what? Good? Yes.”
He grinned at her and heat flooded her cheeks. She had no idea where that teasing, suggestive comment had come from, but she liked it, liked that she made him grin. He was devastating to look at.
“Mmmm. I’ll give you a chance to prove it later. Are you married?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m not.”
“Then why waste your time on a man who is?”
She never would have if she’d known. Where were all the damn warning signs? “I didn’t know he was married. See, that’s me being the dumbass. He gave all his numbers, his address. There were never any restrictions on communication or seeing one another.” And there hadn’t been. She could call him whenever, though she always let him call her. She’d never been one who could chase a man, even one she was dating. She could see him every night, every day. He’d introduced her to people he worked with, friends he hung out with. There had been nothing that she could remember, and she’d been racking her brain all afternoon trying to figure out, trying to jog her memory, trying to find something that would have hinted that there was a Mrs. But there was nothing.
“When did you find out?”
“In his text message. He said he was going back to his wife.” And there it was all over again…the shock, the humiliation at having gotten involved with a married man without having realized it. There hadn’t even been a tan line on his ring finger. She’d looked. Going back obviously meant that he’d been separated from his wife, but still…
She lowered her head and laid her forehead on the bar. That twinge inside her gut, that complete lack of understanding at how her character judgments had become so flawed, gnawed at her. She used to be able to read people, guys especially, mainly because she watched more than she talked. What had happened that she couldn’t choose a guy anymore who was worth anything, who wasn’t a loser? What had happened to her once-upon-a-time, never-let-her-down intuition?
Tattoo Man leaned close, his breath whispered into her ear, fanned across her skin, and she fought not to shiver, fought not to lift her head and turn it just a fraction of an inch to her right. “Let me take care of you.”
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Have a Happy and Safe New Year’s Eve!