Why did I agree to this? I ask myself for the twelve-hundredth time as I try to apply mascara with my left hand, but succeed only in jabbing my eye with the wand.
I have never been one to hide behind the façade of makeup. A few quick strokes of mascara and maybe some eyeliner if I was feeling especially perky and I was done. When you have red hair and pale, pale skin sometimes even just a bit of makeup looks like too much. Think Bozo.
Phil aka Robert aka Bob Murphy called three times today to ensure our date was still on. I don’t think he was really anxious as much as bored. Evidently participating in a stakeout in real life is nothing like what you see on tv. Murphy decided that dialing my number could quell his boredom until I disenchanted him.
Why is it lately I feel like such a badass?
Juliano’s is crowded as usual. It’s a friendly neighborhood pizza place with a lot of regulars. While there’s no yelling: “Norm!” It’s still obvious that most people know each other.
I’ve been sitting at the table for twenty minutes now by myself. Murphy ducked into the men’s room that long ago. I’m beginning to wonder if he also ducked out of Juliano’s.
“You never answered my text.”
My heart jumps. Damien. I smile despite my badass self. “Are you stalking me?”
He slides into the booth next to me not waiting for me to move over. His warmth invades my side as does the scent of something strange. Turpentine?
“Did your date leave?”
I was about to ask how he knew and then realize that Dominic told him. Which was probably why his text asked if the thought of him made me vomit today. Dominic really needs to be throttled. But not by me. Someone else. Definitely someone else. I have the cast to prove I’m not good at throttling. Pacifist Clare returns!
“He went to the men’s room.”
“Oh.” Damien sounds disappointed, which makes me smile.
“Twenty-five minutes ago.”
“It is strange, isn’t it?”
“Well, yeah. Are you sure he’s still in there?”
“No. Do you think he just left?”
“I don’t know. Twenty-five minutes is a long time.”
“Yeah, that’s what I think.”
We sit there, next to each other, quietly. His left hand rests on my thigh, nearly burning a hole through my jeans.
“You keep popping up,” I say.
“Yep. That’s what I do.”
I smile at him and then he kisses me.
“Hell, I go to the restroom and I come back and you and Dominic have reunited?” Murphy asks, astonishment coloring his tone.
Damien and I look at Murphy who frowns.
“You’re not Dominic. You look like Dominic.”
Damien nods. “Evidently enough to make women vomit.”
I mutter, “Oh, freaking louise” under my breath.
Damien squeezes my thigh, his eyes twinkling. “Give us a couple minutes okay, Murph?”
Murphy shrugs and is about to walk away, but asks: “Who are you?”
Murphy frowns. “Damien” he repeats the name to himself. He shakes his head and then stalks over to the bar to order a fresh beer.
“I’m leaving town for a week, maybe more.”
“If I tell ya, I’d hafta kill ya. No, actually I’m quitting the FBI and I need to wrap some things up.”
Quitting the FBI? There’s so much about this guy I just don’t know or get. Right now with electrical charges surging through my body I want to know him very, very well. Like immediately and privately and nakedly.
“Keep looking at me like that, Red, and I’ll have you out of this place before Murphy can turn around.”
Damien grins, his eyes focusing on my lips. “Like cannibalism is your dietary choice.”
“Not for much longer. Do you feel like vomiting?”
“Will you cut that out?”
“Farthest thing from my mind.”
“Keep it like that. And don’t let the blond beanstalk over there get any ideas. I’m coming back, Red, and I’m going to see just how far south that pretty blush on your face goes.”
Just the deep timbre of his voice and the way his eyes move over my cleavage has altered my breathing. For a split second I imagine that I’m the kind of girl who could go out with one guy and go home with another. I want to tell him to take me home tonight.
As if reading my mind, he says: “Not tonight, Red. Soon.” He kisses me again. Not on the side of the mouth, but on my lips, pushing them open and sliding his tongue over mine. As quickly as it began, it stops.
“Don’t want to embarrass myself trying to walk out of here,” he says, stands up, and then just leaves, all swaggering and cocky.
That man . . . is such a tease and I like it.