In this unedited snippet that picks up where the last one left off, Laurel is giving her best impression of “babe in the woods shows teeth” over cocktails and Greek food on their first date. Sam is as taken with her charm as her cleavage, but she knows her studied veneer is paper thin. She only hopes a few drinks don’t make it crack wide open and leave her shivering in the middle of a field, naked and vulnerable in the cross hairs of a predator…
She shrugged, hoping futilely that he’d let it go.
“That’s no answer.”
She drank some more margarita. “Why not you?”
He sighed audibly.
“No, I’m serious. Why not you? I am 24. You’re a good lookin’ guy. Nice. Generous.”
“How do you know I’m generous?”
She laughed softly. “Well, I haven’t slept you yet, and I’ve already substantially increased my income. And if the rumors I’ve heard about what you’re like in bed are true,” she shrugged. “I suppose I’ll be twice a winner.”
He stared at her, his mouth slightly agape. Then he burst out laughing. He toasted her with his highball glass. “Goddamn,” he whispered, shaking his head.
Good going, girl, she mentally congratulated herself, but there was no way she’d get a swelled head. The sexually charged byplay had Laurel was shaking inside like a martini pre-pour. She was grateful her hand didn’t wobble as she finished her drink.
“Eat,” he ordered.
Laurel obeyed. She was already feeling the effects of that one cocktail, and the salad was good. “What’s this cheese called?”
“Feta. Common in Greek salads.”
They talked food after that. Then moved to movies – they shared an affinity for superhero flicks – and music – there things diverged. He liked soul music, old school R&B and hip hop. She preferred pop music like Taylor Swift. But she did admit to a passion for old Aretha hits.
She was pleased and surprised that he didn’t continue in the same sexually charged vein. But Sam was a sophisticated man, for all his rough talk, responding readily when she steered the conversation to architecture next. It was one of his favorite subjects, after all, and he was off and running until dessert and coffee came.
He’d ordered her another cocktail without asking, and not wanting to appear rude or a rube, she finished it. She knew the relaxed feeling permeating her limbs, the ease with which she smiled and looked at him were the result of the booze, so she kept her comments brief, and her eyes from straying below his.
It was hard. He was gorgeous, especially now, with his shirt sleeves rolled up, his top buttons undone and that thick hair raked back from his mobile face. It would be very, very easy to let him sweep her right out of this restaurant and into his bed, and she wasn’t ready for that, so she studiously prepped her coffee and left it to cool while she sampled the baklava.
She groaned lightly.
She nodded. It was excellent. She thought she might try to make it. Now she could afford the nuts and honey, ingredients that had been outside her budget before the promotion.
“Try the flan.”
She did, and rolled her eyes it was so good. The custard was rich, but not too sweet, and she ate all of hers.
She eyed it thoughtfully. “No, I better not. I want to be able to wear this dress again.”
“Your figure is perfect,” he told her.
She appreciated the lie. She knew she was bigger than was accepted these days. But it wasn’t her fault she was short and busty with a fat ass. Her mama had been built exactly the same.
“I should have been born a black girl.”
He laughed. “How do you figure?”
“Black men like thick girls. They prefer them, celebrate them, even.”
“So do white men.”
She peeped at him, then accepted the bite of baklava he held out to her. He watched closely as her mouth cleaned the fork. Then he raised an imperious hand. The waiter appeared with the check. Sam didn’t even accept the sleeve, he just held out his black card.
“Will you need anything wrapped?”
“No,” he said softly, his eyes intent on her flushed face.