“Sorry,” she whispers, the pink tip of her tongue coming out to lick her lip, making me groan.
When she is done plugging in her number, I take the phone from her and press the call button. Her phone starts ringing and she pulls it from her bag. I slip it from her hand to look at the picture on the screen, and this time, it’s a picture of the ocean at sunset.
“Good girl,” I tell her, and I smile when her eyes narrow.
“I didn’t change it because of you. I just got tired of looking at that picture,” she says defensively, pulling the phone from my hand. I smile bigger, and I know it’s cocky, but I can’t bring myself to care. She slaps my chest with the back of her hand again, but I catch it before she can pull it away. “I’m serious!” she cries, making me laugh.
I tug her hand and she steps towards me. “I know you are.”
She’s standing so close that her apple-cinnamon smell floods my system. This close, I can see a small scattering of freckles along the ridge of her nose, and I also notice that her eyes have small golden flecks near the center but are almost black around the edges.
“You have a lot of tattoos.” Her softly spoken words pull my attention from her face to where she’s touching me.
I watch as her finger traces a few of the tattoos on my hand that’s holding hers. Her skin is completely unmarked. She’s so pure I don’t even want to touch her; something about her is too sweet for someone like me.
“I use to want a tattoo,” she says, sounding far away. Her face is still bent down, watching as her fingers wander over my skin. I’m so hard I’m surprised my dick doesn’t bust through my jeans to get to her.
“You don’t anymore?” I ask her.
Her head comes up, and she swallows, shrugs, and shakes her head.
Those alarm bells are going off again, but I don’t understand why. “So you never told me where you’re from,” I say, wanting to know as much as I can about her from just talking to her. I can have her background checked, and I will, but I still want her to open up to me.
“I’m from Seattle,” she answers quietly.
“What brought you here?”
“I was just ready for a change.” She shrugs and steps back. Someone who isn’t used to reading people may not have noticed the wobble of her chin or the way her little fist clenched at her side, but I did. “I really need to go. Thanks for the ice cream.” She pulls her bag closer to her body, almost as if she’s trying to protect herself.
I don’t move; I know she’s running, but I just don’t know what from. I definitely don’t want her to run from me.
“Any time, sweet Sophie,” I tell her gently. “Send me a text when you get home.”
She nods and opens her door. When it’s shut, she rolls down the window. “Bye, Nico.”
I lift my chin and watch her take off. I’m still standing there watching when she pulls out of the parking lot.
“She doesn’t date.” Fuck. My head drops, and I know exactly who’s speaking. “I tried, and a few other guys have tried, so don’t waste your time.”
“Did you ever think maybe she just doesn’t want to date you?” I turn around to face the guy from the office.
“Did you not hear me? I said she didn’t want to date me or anyone else that’s asked her.”
“Yeah? All that means to me is she’s got taste,” I tell him with a shrug.
“Whatever,” he says, walking off.
I shake my head in revulsion. I have known guys like him my whole life; they think if a woman doesn’t want them, then there must be something wrong with her, when in reality, it’s them.
I get in my car and watch as he gets in his. He puts on a pair of sunglasses and looks at himself in the mirror before taking off. I pull out my cell and dial Justin, our computer guru. He knows how to find information on anyone and anything.
“Hey, man. How’s it hanging?” I ask him.
“A little to the left,” he says, laughing at his own joke. I smile but don’t laugh along with him. “So, I guess your calling for a reason.”
“Yeah, I have a phone number I need you to run for me.” I give him the number, listening as he plugs it in on his keyboard.
“Is this about the girl you’re seeing?” he asks with a grin in his voice.
“Jesus, you f**kers need a f**king life.” I lay my head back against my headrest.
“Hey, I just know because Kenton said you turned down the chance for a stripper to stay with you. I offered him my place and told him she could share my bed with me too.”
“Man, shut up and run the number. You wouldn’t even know what to do with a woman if she sat on your face.”
“That’s not true. I’ve watched plenty of educational material.”
“I’m sure you have.” I can’t help but smile.
“All right, so on a soft run, it says her name is Sophie Grates. She’s twenty-three, owns her house, which she paid in full, and has a credit score of seven twenty. She drives an Audi and owes six thousand on it. She has two credit cards in her name—one American Express and one Victoria’s Secret—both paid on time. Her mom passed away in a car accident when Sophie was fifteen. She got emancipated when she was sixteen and went into Job Corps.” My stomach is in knots. Her mom passed away when she was so young, and not long after that, she moved out on her own. “Did you hear me, man?”
“I asked if you wanted me to do a hard run on her.”
“Nah. Thanks, man. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Sure,” he says and hangs up.
I pull out of the parking lot thinking about sweet Sophie being on her own for so long. When I reach my house, my phone buzzes, and I pull it out after shutting off my car.
Sophie: Home ?
I feel my heart thud in my chest when I see it’s her.
Me: Where’s home?
Sophie: Nice try.
I grin when she doesn’t give in so easily.
Me: If I don’t know, how can I bring you ice cream?
Sophie: You can’t.
My eyebrows pull together as I try again.
Me: What about taking you out?
Sophie: I don’t really think that’s a good idea.
She clearly doesn’t like the idea of going out anywhere, so I try a different tactic.
Me: What about dinner at my place? Or yours?
Sophie: How do I know you’re not a serial killer?