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Dressed appropriately for quiet night at home? Check.
Knox is exactly the kind of guy my ugly past has taught me to avoid, but when the heavily tattooed biker shows up at my door with flowers and a gentle touch, I’m kind of a goner. But agreeing to the blind date I knew nothing about is just the start of a crazy night of ogres, onions, wine and dangly bits.
Way too many dangly bits.
I knew letting myself get set up on a blind date was a bad idea, but I can’t deny that there’s a little part of me that really wants to find Mr. Right. Especially after having been with Mr. Wrong for so long. And everything about Orion “Ryan” Abernathy screams right. But when the cute, young social worker has no idea who I am or what I’m talking about, I know we’ve both been set up.
I fully expect my chance at finding out if Ryan is my Mr. Right to go up in smoke, but when he agrees to go out with me, I’m certain not even the hint of a haunted past can come between us.
Problem is, it’s not his past that comes between us, but a whole lot of naked old man.
Leave it to me to manage to finally find Mr. Right only to scare him off when our first date goes oh so wrong.
Or does it?
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“Yes? Who is it?” I asked, barely keeping my voice from going high after getting a good look at the mammoth of a man through the peephole.
It wasn’t like I lived in the worst part of Atlanta, but even if I lived in the biggest mansion in Buckhead, I still wouldn’t have just opened the door. My cat, Fiona, wound herself between my legs as I double-checked the deadbolt on the door.
That was it. I waited a beat, but when he didn’t say anything else, I said as politely as I could, “Sir, I think you have the wrong door.”
I peeked out the peephole again and saw the man looking at his phone. The lens offered only a distorted view of him, but there was no mistaking his big body or the tattoos on his forearms as well as the back of his hands, one of which held what looked like a small bouquet of flowers. Despite the unseasonably cool September air, from what I could tell, he was wearing a T-shirt. Part of me wanted to open the door just to see if he was really as broad-chested as the snug black shirt implied.
“I’m, um… I’m looking for Ryan Abernathy… do you know if he lives on this floor?”
My heart seized when he said my name. My instinct was to blurt out that I didn’t know, but I resisted the urge. I’d spent most of my life avoiding guys like him and I wasn’t going to do it ever again. My days were often spent telling traumatized kids that they had the same right as everyone else to live their lives as themselves, so I wasn’t about to let old habits continue to dictate my every move.
“What do you want from him?” I blurted, then cursed myself because I’d somehow managed to make my voice go all gangster-like.
There was silence on the other side of the door and I quickly checked the peephole to see if the guy was about to kick it in or something. He was still on his phone.
“It’s okay, I’ll send him a message. Sorry to have bothered you.”
Before I could say anything, I saw the guy step back a little and it looked like he was typing into his phone. My peephole had a view of the staircase, so I could see the guy leaning against the railing as he presumably waited for… me? to answer. I actually pulled out my own phone in anticipation before I realized what I was doing.
I hadn’t been messaging with this man.
Or any man, for that matter.
OK, well, not ever… but certainly not any time in the last few months.
I grimaced as I mentally calculated the amount of time it’d been since I’d last been out with a guy.
Damn, that meant it’d been even longer since I’d actually had sex.
How the hell had that happened?
My chest felt tight as I considered how much of a hermit I’d really become. I would have liked to say it was just because I’d been too busy with my education and career, but I wasn’t in the habit of lying to myself. So instead, I pressed my body flush against the door as I watched the man to see what he’d do. I couldn’t really make out his expression and as he leaned negligently against the railing and folded what looked like really beefy arms, my gut broke the news to my brain that he probably wasn’t going anywhere soon.
I told myself to just ignore him and get back to my studies, but Fiona chose that moment to remind me I was late with her dinner and stretched her roly-poly body enough that she could dig her claws into my leg.
“Ow, fuck, Fiona,” I bellowed as I jerked my leg away. My cat looked at me indignantly and then turned her butt on me and flicked her tail once before dropping to the floor and licking said butt. A soft rumble of laughter sounded from the other side of the door.
“It’s not polite to eavesdrop,” I said automatically before I could catch myself. I looked down to check my leg. “Besides, I could be in here bleeding to death for all you know,” I added grouchily.
I leaned down to run my fingers over the red marks and nearly fell on my ass when the voice on the other side of the door sounded like it was practically on top of me.
“Do you need someone to kiss it to make it better?”
The words were said with a certain lightness to them, but dear god, his voice was so deep and growly that my dick actually stood up and took notice. Thank goodness there was a thick layer of wood between us or he surely would have seen my wood through the raggedy plaid boxer shorts that doubled as my PJs.