late afternoon bled into June dusk
as the sun dipped toward the horizon. Jillian had taken off her
jacket and the breeze fluttered through the claret silk tank she
wore beneath. It felt good to move. It would have felt good to dance,
if she’d only known how. She felt a sudden, restless urge
for something new.
she could see from a few cars away, was firmly over into redline
territory. But she was less interested in that than the guy a bit
beyond, walking down the sidewalk toward her. Tall, dark, moving
with an easy assurance, he wore a jacket and tie and sunglasses.
The breeze blew his dark hair onto his forehead; he raised an impatient
hand to rake it back.
was it, Jillian thought. She wanted to make a change? Now was her
chance. Just a small change. All she had to do was glance at him
and smile. Simple enough. Something millions of women did every
day. Once she got used to that behavior, she’d move on. For
now, just a smile. That wasn’t much, was it?
was her heart hammering?
stood at her meter, fumbling with her coins. He was closer now.
Almost time. It wasn’t like it was a military operation, she
thought impatiently. She just needed to look at him and do it, like
it was natural. Natural.
up, preparing to smile. And froze.
was the wrong word. Handsome was too tepid, a description for men
with perfect Ken-doll looks. His was a face that was more about
purpose and intent, pure force of personality. Strong bones, straight
nose, a chin that looked like it knew how to take a punch. His eyes
were hidden by his sunglasses. His mouth was straight and wide and
far too intriguing.
he smiled and the coins slipped through her suddenly nerveless fingers.
a noise of frustration, Jillian bent to grab for them, trying fruitlessly
to capture the rolling disks before they went over the curb and
through the grate beyond.
vaulted through her system. He’d stopped. The guy had stopped
and now he was bent down by her meter, trying to retrieve the coins.
“I think they’re all on their way to the Columbia by
now,” she said.
devils,” he said, pushing up his glasses and grinning.
hear her pulse thudding in her ears. His eyes were black, she saw,
his dark brows quirked now with just a hint of humor.
her a quarter. “There’s one, anyway.”
was shaking as she took the coin from him. Okay, this was more than
she’d planned. It was supposed to be a smile and glance, not
a whole discussion. She wasn’t sure she was up for a full
discussion, especially after all the champagne.
about your other quarter?” He nodded at the meter as he stood.
“One won’t take you through the witching hour.”
guess I’ll just have to take my chances.”
lucky, huh?” He grinned and she felt something in her stomach
flip. Lethal smile, absolutely lethal. And without warning she found
herself staring at his upper lip and wondering just what it would
be like to kiss him.
“I guess I am,” she said. It was the champagne, she
told herself. Starting up her own personal perestroika campaign
was one thing, picking up men on the street was another.
was already rummaging in his pocket to pull out a handful of coins.
can’t pay my meter,” she objected.
I can,” he said as he picked through the change for a quarter
and put it in. “It’s good karma. After a day like I’ve
had, I could use it.”
oh,” she said. “That doesn’t sound good.”
oh is right. If you see a lynch mob coming out of the Odeon, they’ll
be looking for me.”
that where you’re going?” she asked, falling in beside
him as they walked the dozen yards to where the light from the theatre’s
marquee spilled over the sidewalk.
How about you?”
offer to buy you a drink but I’m here for a party. Actually,
I’m late for a party,” he corrected. “Really late.”
okay, I’m here with?” She broke off and gave him a suspicious
stare. “What kind of a party?”
He held the door for her. “A rehearsal dinner, for a wedding.
through, the little buzz of excitement fading. “Your name
wouldn’t happen to be Gil, would it?”
as charged. And you are?”
Logan, the bridesmaid you left at the altar. Nice of you to finally