Buying the BrideBy: Penny Wylder
“Yes, we’re having a meeting.”
“Can this meeting be moved outside?” I ask.
He hesitates but seems too curious to say no. “I suppose that would be all right.”
“Let’s go,” I say.
To my surprise he follows me. He seems like the kind of guy who never deviates from a schedule, but here we are.
As we walk by different offices and desks, people crane their heads to look at us and seem very curious about my presence. Though I’m sure he gets plenty of action—I mean, look at him, he’s beyond beautiful! —maybe he keeps that part of his life private from the people who work below him and that’s why they seem surprised to see him with a woman.
Walking next to him, he seems even taller than he did in his office. He seems bigger than life. A big fish in a tiny world made just for him. The jealous way women look at me as we walk by gives me a sense of pride, though I’m not sure why. It’s not like Heath and I are actually a couple. I guess being next to him makes me feel like an actual fish when normally I’m a flake of algae just trying to make it in a world too big for me.
“What are we doing?” he keeps asking. He changes the wording when I don’t give him the answer that he wants, but it’s all the same question.
Once we’re outside, I finally give him an answer he can chew on. “Falling in love,” I say.
He looks at me as though I’ve just struck him with a bat. I laugh. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt,” I tell him.
He shakes his head, the skeptical look on his face growing more concerned as we head further away from his office building. It’s a beautiful day out, overcast, and a slight cool breeze. Perfect day to walk the dogs if there were any around, but since I don’t have dogs at my disposal, I’ll just have to make do with what I have—or don’t have, I should say.
We head into the park and I watch the moment when realization starts to dawn on him. “I see,” he says. “I thought you were luring me away to knock me over the head and take my wallet.”
“And you followed me anyway?”
He gives me a dismissive glance. “I’ve got a hundred pounds on you, I’m sure I could take you in a fight.”
The corner of his mouth twitches. Is this stuffed business suit actually being adorable right now? I wasn’t sure he was capable of it. Maybe this job won’t be so difficult after all.
“Fighting isn’t always about brawn. There are other ways for a woman to overpower a man,” I say.
I stop abruptly and turn to face him. I put my hand against his chest, touching the smooth buttons of his jacket, running my fingers along the stiff fabric. Even through his jacket I can tell there’s nothing soft about this man’s body. I start to wonder what he looks like without the suit. It starts out innocent enough. I’m just imagining him in other clothes. Normal clothes that an everyday man would wear on the street: t-shirt and jeans. It’s a difficult image to hold onto because he seems made of this suit, like he was born wearing it. Then my thoughts start to steer slightly toward the gutter. This is where my imagination likes to run wild. Now I’m thinking about him being naked, my hands and lips exploring his impeccable body. I have a feeling his skin is soft, but nothing else about him is.
Heath stiffens beneath my touch and my mind comes back into focus. He’s watching me, his eyes burning. My hand moves to his stomach. More hard body beneath. When I reach out with my other hand and bring it up to his neck, to his jaw, feeling the shadow of stubble, and rub my thumb against those impossibly soft lips, his entire body shudders. He starts to reach out to touch me too, but I abruptly step out of his reach. His eyes are wide, confused, and his breathing comes out in short bursts.
“What was that?” he asks huskily.
“Just proving I don’t need a bunch of muscle to take you down,” I say breezily and fall into step beside him like nothing ever happened.
He lets out a long breath, then a chuckle follows. “Remind me not to follow you into the woods.”
I laugh and take his hand, leading him to the other side of the park. His skin is warm, his large hand envelopes mine. He smells amazing, and without even knowing the brand, I know whatever cologne he wears is expensive. It’s not offensive like the cheap stuff; it’s subtle.