69,107
07.03.2019

It’s not a large coffee lounge. In fact, there is only one three seater lounge in the store because that’s all it can fit. It’s about a quarter of the size of Safira’s and I’m sure at one point our two stores used to be one.

I go in to find Sammi behind the counter.

Perfect. Just who I need to see.

I walk over to him and smile, he smiles back flirtatiously.

Sammi is eighteen; he works at Winnie’s part time and goes to college. He is cute. At least, I think he is under all that dark hair. His hair is long and brushed forward over one eye. The eye that I can see is a warm brown color.

He smiles and says, “Tina, babe, what can I get you?”

Ever the charmer, I reply, “Actually, Sammi, I need a favor.”

His face shows unconcealed surprise. A small smile forms on his lips and he says in a husky voice, “Sure! Whatever you need…” He licks his lips in invitation.

I laugh, put a hand on my chest and say, “Oh my, not that kind of favor! Sammi, I’m old enough to be your Mo…uh, older sister.”

He wiggles his brows at me and responds, “My sister ain’t a hottie.”

I can’t help but laugh. We banter like this all the time. It’s harmless and Sammi is a sweetheart.

“Can you help me or not?” I say in mock sternness with my hands on my hips.

That charming smile appears again and he replies, “Anything for you, babe.”

I explain to him what I need done and he looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. After pleading with him and planting and a wet, sloppy kiss on his cheek, he finally agrees.

I jump up and down in victory, thank him and walk back to Safira. I relieve Mimi, take my place at the counter and wait to see what happens.

A half hour passes and the beautiful man across the street appears, right on time, cigarette in hand. I spot Sammi making his way across the street and anxiety knots my stomach.

This was a bad idea. What was I thinking??! God, I am such a turd!

Sammi approaches beautiful man and hands a small brown paper bag to him. Sammi says a few words and walks away. He spies me through Safira’s window and winks at me.

I watch Mr. Beautiful open the brown paper bag and take out the candy.

He looks confused. I’m not surprised.

He tears the note off the ribbon, opens it and reads. He looks even more confused and my heart shrinks.

What I see next makes it all worth it.

His eyes crinkle and a small smile twitches at his lips.

Not great, but definite progress. This is the first smile I’ve seen grace his gorgeous face and it was nice. I can’t help but smile, too.

Yay, me! See?! Not such a bad idea after all.

A deep sigh escapes me. I feel at peace once again. I go about my work with a huge smile plastered on my face.

Rawr Raaawr

I inwardly cringe and glare at the damn door.

A man stands there.

He’s smiling but his eyes look at me like being a girl is a disease and you can catch it from visiting a boutique.

He is tall, probably 6’2”. Olive skin tone and amber colored eyes.

I’m mesmerised.

His eyes are like honey! I’ve never seen that eye color before. He has dark brown spiky hair and a nice five o’clock shadow.

Wow, this man is gorgeous.

He looks to be about my age. He walks over to me, places both forearms on my counter, leans in close and asks, “Can you help me, honey?”

“I. Ahh…” I’m tongue tied. His voice is as smooth as his honey eyes.

Having obviously heard a man’s voice in the store, Mimi comes to stand next to me.

She looks Mr. Gorgeous up and down and narrows her eyes. She says firmly, “I can help you.”

He looks her up and down the same way she’d done mere seconds before and smiles a big smile. Mr Gorgeous has a dimple.

My knees almost buckle and I start to sweat.

He smirks as he responds, “Great. I’m looking for the owner of this.”

I look down and feel the flush rise from my chest up. This is because on the counter sits my Mr. Beautiful note.

Mimi looks down, brow scrunched in confusion. She reads the note and I know I’m totally busted. Meems knows my handwriting.

I feel her stare bore into me, I won’t look at her.

“You didn’t…” Her voice colored with amusement.

I’m red, splotchy, and embarrassed. I look towards the man who is now looking at me with narrowed eyes, his head at a tilt. Like he’s trying to read my mind or figure me out.

Before I can stop myself, I answer with a shrill, “How did he know it was me?”

Mr. Gorgeous takes the note from the counter and turns it over. We all look down and what I see makes me even redder. I hear Mimi burst out laughing. Mr. Gorgeous quietly chuckles.

Safira Boutique.

I wrote on Safira stationary!

I. Am. Mortified.

He was never meant to know!

Mr. Gorgeous speaks, “C’mon, sweetheart. You’re comin’ with me.”

Uh, What?

I whisper, “Excuse me?”

He flicks his head to the note and says, “Boss wants to see you.”

Uh, What?

My eyes widen and I whisper loudly, “Am I in trouble?”

He looks me up and down and his lips lift a little. He answers, “I’m not sure, sweetheart.” He says sweetheart in a way that makes it sound like sweethawt.

He takes my hand that rests on the counter, pulls me next to him, and tucks my hand into the crook his arm. I know he sees uncertainty in my eyes. He looks to Mimi and smiles as he speaks, “I’ll have her back in one piece. I’m Max, by the way.”

She does a little head lift and responds, “Mimi.” She points to me and says, “That’s Tina.”

He smiles and says, “Great, she’ll be back soon.” He starts pulling me along with him and I turn to glare at Mimi.

Standing tall with eyes wide, she smiles big and lifts her hand in a wave.

Crud! I knew this was a bad idea.

Chapter Two

Friend-zoned

I’m waiting for Max to get back with information on who sent me the candy and note.

Curiosity eats away at me.

Who the hell would send a guy candy?

Not just any candy, but those goofy wax lips that taste like cardboard.

Someone nutty, that’s for sure.

Maybe even a past fling. I’m wracking my brain trying to think if any of the girls I’ve slept with recently were a bit nutty.

There was that one girl who wanted me to…Nah. I smile at the memory. She was the good kind of nutty.

The door to my office bursts open and Max tries to walk in but it looks like something is holding him back.

Max starts laughing and says, “C’mon sweetheart, he won’t bite.”

I stand and step towards the door, my brows furrowed. I decide to sit on the front of my desk.

What did he bring me, a Pitbull?

Max is struggling with whoever is out there and Max is big. And strong. He looks at me like he wants to burst into laughter. Walking back out the office door, he emerges seconds later.

Walking backwards towards me is a woman; Max has his hands on her shoulders and is walking her toward me. Once she hits the middle of the room, he stops walking. He lowers his face to hers and says, “He just wants to talk, hon.” He flicks her hair playfully, turns and walks out. But not before he winks at me.

The woman standing in my office still has her back to me and she’s looking at the floor. I do a quick scan of her from the back. Medium height; maybe 5”5 or 5”6 without the black pumps she’s rockin’. Nice body. Great ass. Long dark hair to her waist. It’s shiny and has a nice natural wave to it.

It’s now been over a minute and this slip of a woman still hasn’t turned to face me.

I’m getting irritated now.

I have to break the ice.

I say, “He’s right, you know. I won’t bite.”

Her shoulders stiffen but she slowly turns to face me. Her face is still lowered so I can’t see what she looks like.

I take a look at her body from the front. Decent boobs. Nice curvy body. She’s dressed nicely, wearing a white linen shirt and a high waisted grey skirt. You know the ones that are tight around the ass and get tighter around the knees?

Nice.

She’s also wearing a thick black belt that goes just under her boobs. The more I look at her, the sexier she becomes.

This somehow makes me more irritated.

I ask a little too firmly, “Can you look at me, miss? I just wanna ask you a few questions. Nothin’ to be worried about.”

She nods and lifts her head.

Oh, Hell.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes.

Not a past fling, that’s for sure.

She’s cute. And flushed, I mean, really flushed. It kinda makes her cuter. Not just cute, but adorable.

And she’s petrified.

I have no idea why. I mean, I know I’m a big guy but I don’t think I’m that scary.

She has light green eyes that are unusual because they have a black rim, a cute little nose, and her lips…Oh, man.

Her top lip is full and her bottom lip is fuller.

Damn.

Using my foot, I pull out a chair and motion for her to sit. Thankfully, she does so without hesitating.

Who is this girl?

Uh, that voice.

It’s the type of voice you hear in your own made up fantasies. Deep and sexy.

I look up at Mr Beautiful and Wow. He’s actually even more beautiful up close.

Now that I’m close enough to him, I can see he has the same eye color as Max. He looks a lot like Max, too. I’m guessing they’re brothers or at least related.

Just above his eyebrow is a scar; it goes through his eyebrow at an angle and ends at the outer tip of his eye.

A scowl mars his face and he sighs deeply.

He stands up and walks around the desk, sits behind it and takes his cufflinks out of the button holes of his silk lilac shirt. Not many men could pull off looking manly in lilac. But he’s just that awesome.

He rolls up the sleeves to his elbows. I think he’s done this to make me a little more comfortable around him. I’m surprised that it works. The simple move has made him much less intimidating and I feel myself loosen up.

He sounds bored when he says, “I’m Nik.”

He already thinks you’re a weirdo, don’t you dare freeze up now. It’s just talking.

I reply a little too loudly, “I’m Tina.”

His lips twitch. He asks, “You work at Safira’s Boutique?”

I simply nod.

He points to the note which now sits on his desk and asks, “Can you tell me who gave me this note?”

Immediately I respond, “I did.” Just like ripping off a band aid, the quicker you do it the less painful it is.

His brow furrows in confusion, he taps his pen on the desk and says, “Oh. I guess you could say I’m a little curious about the note. And what’s written on it.”

I flush even warmer and slide deeper into the chair.

I’m so embarrassed!

I quickly respond, “I’m so sorry if I offended you in any way. I, ah, I think I should just go.” I move to stand but he reaches over the table and takes my hand in his huge one.

He says, “Sit down, please.” This is not a request.

He places my hand back on the desk and I park my butt back down. He reaches for the note and reads aloud, “Smile sometime, handsome.”

Yep. I’m an Idiot.

This Tina woman closes her eyes and cringes when I read the note aloud; it’s so cute I have to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing.

She straightens up, looks me in the eye and says matter-of-factly, “It’s just that every day you come outside for your cigarette break which, by the way, smoking kills.” She scrunches her nose, and says quietly, “But at least it didn’t stunt your growth.” She looks thoughtful, places her fingers to her chin and tilts her head slightly. Her head straightens suddenly as if she just remembered she wasn’t done and she continues, “And I see you out there every day but you’re never happy. And you never smile. Like ever. And I just wanted to, anonymously, make your day a bit better and make you smile because, frankly, watching you is a bit depressing. And I know it’s none of my business and you have the right to be as broody as you damn well please, but I like when people smile and I like making people smile!” She finishes a little louder than she needs to be. I have to stop myself from running my hands down my face.

Yeah, too cute.

I feel a frown form.

I don’t do cute. She has a great ass that I would definitely like in my bed but I don’t do cute.

Cute girls wanna kiss. I don’t do that shit. Kissing means special things like relationships and girlfriends. And I don’t have relationships or girlfriends. I have fuck buddies. Because I fuck. Often. I most definitely don’t make love. I might not screw hard all the time but even slow screwing is just screwing.

I don’t have the time or the inclination to make the effort to keep a girlfriend.

One day, when I’m not knee deep in nightclub bullshit, I’ll find a nice girl and settle down. I’ll make sure that girl will be worth it. But that time is not now.

Tina is looking at my eyes and asks, “What color are your eyes?”

Uh oh, she’s making goo-goo eyes at me. Crap, cut her loose and let her be on her way.

Nik shifts in his chair almost nervously as he replies, “Uh, I don’t really know. Like a gold-ish brown or somethin’.”

I push the eye color thing. I tell him, “I’ve never seen eyes that color. It’s like warm honey.”

He looks away and swallows hard before he says, “Uh, yeah, I guess.”

Oh my, he is nervous.

As he looks toward the bookcase in the corner and I spy ink travelling up the back of his neck past the back of his ear. It’s black, thick, and looks tribal.

Yummy.

He won’t look me in the eye now and I wonder what I said to get a reaction like the one he’s giving me.

I’m confused.

❮❯