Sometimes first impressions are the ones that stick with us. Sometimes our first impressions can change over time based on future actions.
I’m definitely one for first impressions and I admit I can be wrong from time to time as well, but generally, my gut is right.
Of course, there’s always the first impression that has everything to do with looks rather than gut instinct about personality. And a lot of times in romance, that’s what is noticed first. Looks. How he looks in jeans or a suit or uniform. How he looks naked. His eyes. His hair. Whether he has tattoos or not. Clean cut or rugged.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Sometimes not…
”Really? You’re not going to turn around and look at me?”
What was she afraid of? She’d done the hard part. Well, not the hard hard part, but she’d asked him to give her a long, fantasy weekend and he’d said yes. He wasn’t nervous, or at least he didn’t appear to be, so what was her issue? It was an easy answer. She was the wallflower. It had been her Achilles’ heel all her life. In the safe haven of her home, of her little neighborhood, she was open and comfortable with her life. He represented the opposite of all that, and though it scared her, when she was with him, she couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
”I get it,” he said, coming to stand beside her now. ”You’re taken aback by my celebrity, aren’t you? It’s finally hit you just how famous I am.” Johnny sighed dramatically and Liz couldn’t stop herself from looking at him. He didn’t turn his head to meet her gaze, but there was a little smirk on his lips that, as she stared at it, started to ease the nervousness coursing through her. ”I knew it would catch up to you sooner or later. I know I’m quite the catch for women. I mean, look at me? I’m the quintessential over-the-hill rock star who still wears leather, has long hair and thinks he’s smokin’ hot. Chicks still dig me, baby.”
Liz laughed and nudged him with her shoulder. The familiarity of their long-standing friendship settled in the small space between them. He was as much a smartass now as he’d ever been.. He knew his celebrity didn’t matter to her. She was proud of him, proud to know him as a person, as an imperfect, but gorgeous man. She was proud to have known him before he’d ever struck it rich with a hit song, and he knew how hard something like this weekend was for someone so quiet, how out of character it was for her to make the first move. Her inability to turn around and face him was not for any reason other than fear, a little anxiety and a whole lot of discomfort with the immediate situation. She didn’t like being this way sometimes, but more often than not, the homebody in her kicked in and she stayed rooted to what she knew. ”Thank you,” she said softly.
”There’s nothing to thank me for.”
”There is. You’re helping an old friend step outside herself for a while.” She’d spent a great deal of time living her personal life vicariously through other people, the characters from her books and, Johnny. He was well traveled and he never failed to entertain and amuse her with some of his stories, the antics of his band, the daring things their fans would do just to be able to touch their coattails.
It was high time she did some real life living of her own.
”True… In a way,” he added softly.
”What do you mean, in a way?” For the moment, she’d forgotten her nervousness. She couldn’t tell if he was still teasing her or if he was just being cryptic and trying to keep her on her toes.
”I don’t have completely selfless motives in having said yes to this.”
Liz scoffed. ”Well, of course you don’t. I’m sure if we actually go through with it that you’ll at least…you know, benefit from it.” She couldn’t make herself say that he’d come, that he’d get sexual pleasure, but he knew that was what she meant. Right?
”Benefit? Really? Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
”Oh shut up.”
Johnny grinned and pinned her with a look for the space of a heartbeat, then lowered his ice-blue eyes. It wasn’t as dark blue a shade as the blue ice found in glaciers, but it was stunning just the same. His gaze roamed her body, from her purple-painted toes to her messy pony-tailed head. ”I like the just-out-of-bed look, Liz.”
She smiled, self consciousness prickling her skin, and she stuffed down hard on the urge to fidget. ”You’ve never seen me just out of bed. For all you know, this could be my everyday look now.”
”True. Though I’ve never seen you like this, I know it’s not how you usually go out in public.” He lowered his head. “Doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to see your just-out-of-bed look for years.” The words were whispered against the side of her neck and she shivered. The man was hell on her nervous system.
He waggled his eyebrows when she chanced a glance at him and his wicked laugh echoed off the walls of the nearly empty room when he stood straight again. ”I’ll be at the table over there.” He pointed to the farthest corner of the coffee bar. ”Come join me.”
”I really need to get back to my room and…” And what? Doing him was all she had planned.
”C’mon, now. I don’t bite. No need to stay so shy with me.”
She slanted him a look. ”You don’t bite? Really? That’s not the magazines said,” she quipped. “And my shyness is harder to shake than you might think.”
”I know it is. Especially now, but we’re going to work on that.”
”Good luck with that. It’s not as though I go around asking men to meet me for…for… You know.” She dropped her voice to barely a whisper so as not to be overheard, even though there wasn’t anyone within earshot to hear their conversation. The counter was still several feet ahead and given the noise of the espresso machines, they could’ve shouted and it would have been difficult for anyone to catch on to what they were saying.
He appeared to contemplate her meaning, but in the end, shook his head. ”No, I don’t think I do know. You’re going to have to be more specific.”
Were her eyes as wide as she thought they must be? Was her mouth hanging open as she feared it likely was? ”You do too know, Johnny.”
”Still… Just to be sure, I think you need to spell it out for me. I don’t want to be here under false pretenses. However, hearing my name on your lips like that might just have been worth the trip.”
”You can’t be serious?” How red were her cheeks? And a glance at his face told her he was completely serious. ”I…I can’t say it. Not here.”
”You can say it anywhere, Liz. Since we’re here, though, it’s as good a place as any. Besides, you said it at dinner the a few weeks ago.”
”That was different,” she hissed. If he was trying to rattle her, he was doing a damn good job of it.
”Nah. It wasn’t. It only took you through the salad course to get the question out, but you know how it is. I’m older now, I’ve been playing music for years at decibels that are off the charts. There’s that man thing too. We don’t listen all that well the first time around.”
”Oh baby girl, you haven’t seen me naked yet. I promise you, it’s quite possible.” He leaned down close and nipped at her ear with his gorgeous, full and kissable and definitively wicked lips. ”I’ll let you off the hook this one time. All bets are off after this. Get your coffee and come sit with me. That’s not a request or a suggestion.”
He stayed next to her, staring at her until she turned her head and met his gaze. There was no humor or challenge in his eyes. Liz nodded slowly and watched as he stood to his full height. He towered over her. His long blond hair hung loose across his shoulders and back, the scruff of dark-blond beard made him look rough around the edges and the icy blue of his eyes held her frozen in place, melting everything deep down inside her.
”Johnny Trouble,” she breathed. ”You do live up to your name.” She turned away and his low chuckle reverberated down her spine when he disappeared to the table he’d indicated a few minutes ago. She took the steps forward to the counter, resisting the urge to follow him with her eyes. Resistance proved futile. Her attention was riveted to the sway of the hem of his leather duster.
Heat flooded her cheeks as she met the impatient look of the barista. ”S-sorry.”
”What can I get you?”
Liz surveyed the menu again. What was it she’d settled on before? ”Dark-chocolate mocha with caramel drizzle, please.”
”Yes, please.” She was on vacation. She could splurge on the extra calories for the weekend, especially considering the exercise she was planning to get. The laid kind of exercise. There. She said it. In her head, but it was a start. She was there, in a ritzy hotel, to get laid. By a rock star.
”Would you like an extra shot of espresso?”
”You have no idea how much I’d like one,” she said, a little too enthusiastically to her own ears.
Liz paid the bill, gave her name, and against her better judgment, made her way to Johnny’s table. His smile was gentle,, non-threatening and he motioned for her to sit. If it had been any of his other smiles, she’d have probably turned tail, flipped out of her flops and run away.
The thing about Johnny’s smiles were that as long as you looked at his mouth, they were just smiles. The real meanings behind them were conveyed in the way his eyes would shift and change with his moods and with who happened to be in front of him.
He was always an open book, but there was always more to him when it came to certain people. Some got the friendly smile, some got the tolerant but you’re an asshole one, some got the get-the-hell-away-from-me one
He was an enigma and she’d spent four years in high school watching him, staring at him, studying him, lusting after him. Here, more than twenty years after graduation, she was still just as taken with him.
Now, on this chilly (at least here in North Carolina) Saturday morning, grab something warm to drink and visit the following blogs for more snippets…
Have a fantastic day!