“Um…that’s Jamie,” I reply, wondering why he is asking but too afraid to ask him; the look on his face isn’t very inviting for conversation.
“He your man?”
“I wish,” I mumble under my breath and hear him growl.
My head flies back as I search his face; his jaw is ticking, and his knuckles of the hand holding my phone are turning white.
“What does that mean?” he asks.
“That’s Jamie Dornan. He’s playing Fifty. I don’t know him.” I feel my cheeks heat up and look down at my feet.
What the hell’s wrong with me? Why am I not afraid right now? I have been scared of virtually everything my whole life, and now, when I should be running for cover, I’m not scared at all. Just a little embarrassed.
“I don’t have time for this,” he says, and I don’t know what he’s talking about, but I all of a sudden really want my phone out of his hand before he crushes it to smithereens.
When I look up again, I see that he is walking away. My eyebrows come together, and I wonder what he is doing. Then I realize he still has my cell.
“Hey! You can’t steal my phone!” I run after him, grabbing his arm.
He looks down at me then stops short. I’m completely caught off guard when he wraps an arm around my waist, pulling me flush against him. His free hand goes into my hair and pulls my head back, and then he kisses me. No, not kisses—he consumes me. My body starts to buzz like someone just plugged me into an electrical outlet, and I start to feel lightheaded. When he pulls his mouth from mine, I gasp, my fingers going to my lips.
“What was that?” I whisper, looking into his eyes.
“What’s your name?” he asks, still holding me close.
“Sophie,” I tell him, my answer spoken behind my fingers.
His body is as hard as a rock against mine; I can feel every muscle, every contour, and it takes everything in me to keep breathing. I realize this is the first time in my life I have ever felt small, my curvy figure never having allowed it before.
“Sophie,” he repeats, standing up to his full height and pulling me with him. I look around and wonder if time has stopped for anyone else. “My name is Nico.”
“Of course it is,” I say, staring into his amazing eyes, thinking that a guy who looks like him would have a name like that—cool and hot, something that rolls easily off your tongue but is hard to forget.
“I’ll see you when I get back into town, Sophie,” he says as he lets me go, making sure I’m steady on my feet.
“What?” I ask, looking around again.
“Here’s your phone.” He hands me my cell, and I’m still a little lightheaded when he starts to walk off again. I watch in a daze as he leaves, but then he turns around to face me from a few yards away. “Sophie?”
“Change the picture on your phone,” he demands before he turns and disappears into the crowd.
I stand there for a few seconds wondering what just happened. Eventually, I pull myself together enough to make it to my car. When I get there, I realize that I didn’t even put the top up or take my bag with me because I had been in such a hurry. I turn quickly to look in my backseat, seeing that my bag is still there. I breathe out a sigh of relief, start my car, and head home.
I live in a small, two-bedroom house just outside of Nashville. I bought it cash with the money I got from my mom’s life insurance policy after she passed away. It’s not much, but it’s home. I pull into my garage and hop out, dragging my bag with me. I need a beer…or a shot of something. I unlock my door, and as I step inside, I kick my shoes off so they go flying down the hall towards my room.
After dropping my bag by the door and the infamous phone on the table, I head to my kitchen, open my freezer, and pull out the bottle of vodka I keep there in case of emergencies. I don’t have time to find a shot glass, so I pull a coffee mug down from the cupboard, fill it half full, and shoot it back. Practically coughing up a lung as I try to catch my breath, I fill the glass up again and shakily take another shot. This time, I’m prepared for it, so I hold my breath as the burn fills my chest. I put the bottle away, feeling more relaxed already.
I head to my room, strip off my clothes, and put on a T-shirt. It’s early, so I head to the living room, grabbing my phone along the way. I plop down on my couch, put my feet up on the coffee table, turn the TV on, start up the DVR, and press play on The Big Bang Theory. I sit there for a few minutes in a daze, not absorbing even a single second of my favorite show. I look at my cell in my hand, and clicking on the screen, I look at the picture of Jamie. I don’t know why, but I can’t help but smile as I think of Nico’s reaction to it. The tattooed stranger is hot, slightly scary, but definitely interesting.
I am happy to be home. I have been gone for four days chasing a skip, and I thought it would have taken me a little longer to catch up with the guy, but luckily for me, he was half moron. I’m shutting off my car in front of my townhouse when my phone rings. I look at the caller ID hopefully; I know it’s not going to be sweet Sophie, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be. Kenton’s number flashes on the screen. I’m sure he has another case for me, but right now, that’s not happening. I’m going to have a beer and go to bed, and then tomorrow, I’m going over to the local middle school.
“Yeah,” I answer, pulling my bag out of the backseat.
“Didn’t take you long to catch Johnson.”
“That’s because he’s an idiot,” I tell him. “He hid out at his mom’s house. You would think he would’ve learned his lesson after the last two times I’ve gone after him. Most of the time I was gone was spent on the road getting there and then getting home. When are you going to get a private jet so I don’t have to put miles on my car?”
“Stop bitching. You made fifteen hundred dollars in two days.”
He isn’t wrong. Between selling my part of the construction business back to my brothers and chasing after skips, I am sitting on a nice stack of cash.
“So why are you calling?”
“What? I can’t just call to see how my cousin’s doing?”
“Do I sound stupid to you?”
“All right, all right… The thing is, I need you to help me out with something.”
“What?” I shake my head, making my way up to my door.
“A friend of mine from Vegas called. He has a girl that needs a place to crash for a little while.”