“Adele.” Rafe catches my elbows to steady me as I bounce off his immovable form.
I’m more flustered than a misstep calls for, but it’s only because my nerves were already ragged over asking Rafe for a job, and now that I’ve decided I don’t actually want the job, I feel somehow caught.
“Rafe,” I manage to say. Don’t be nervous. Imagine him naked.
Trouble is, I imagine Rafe naked far too much.
He’s still holding my elbows, standing far too close. Rafe’s not as Hollywood good-looking as his brother Lance, who recently knocked up my friend Charlie. His hair is darker. His eyes are green. Lance is charming in that laidback, lazy smile kind of way. Rafe is the opposite. No charm. Definitely not laidback. There’s a ruggedness and ferocity about him that makes being around him feel terribly dangerous.
Dangerous, intense, and… exciting.
He’s the kind of guy you’d want on your side, not against it. Last week, when my business partner turned up dead, Charlie got kidnapped, and I was picked up by the police for questioning, I learned exactly how powerful it is to have a guy like him in my court.
So I’m already beholden to Rafe.
Something I hate. Don’t trust a man …
“I—um—I was just leaving.”
“You were?” His brows go down, gaze sweeps over me. “It looks like you just got here.” His eyes snag on my high heeled boots. “You walk in the snow in those?”
“Yes?” Why did I make that sound like a question? Something about his surly black brows makes me uncertain. I clear my throat and try again. “Yes, of course.”
“You need to be more careful. Those boots aren’t good in the snow.” And there it is, the most annoying thing about Rafe. He orders everyone around. The fact that he’s always in fatigue pants and a gray or army green Henley doesn’t lessen his drill sergeant vibe. Neither does the way he stands and looks down on everyone, like a general inspecting his troops and finding us all wanting. I think it’s great he had a military career—when I first met him, I thanked him for his service—but he’s not the boss of me!
I’m tempted to declare that and stomp my boots like I’m four, but that won’t help him take me seriously. Or land me a job.
“Are you meeting someone?” Rafe asks.
“No. Um, yes. Ah—” I shake my head. I’m on the spot here, not sure whether to flee or beg. Neither idea appeals.
Of course, he doesn’t make it easy for me. He releases my elbows to put his hands on his hips, like I’m in trouble, and now I have to answer to him.
Screw this. I can’t work for him.
“Nothing. Nevermind. I have to go.” I try to move past him, but he moves to block my path.
“Hang on a second. Were you here to see me? Or did something happen?” He scans the restaurant with a scowl, as if to identify some mystery offender who was rude to me.
Shoot. Maybe I am supposed to ask him for a job. I mean, here he is, insisting I explain myself.
At the sound of his name, his gaze snaps back to mine, locking and honing in. When I nervously lick the lip gloss off my lips, his gaze dips to my mouth. A hungry expression comes over his face.
God, I’m hungry, too. And not for food.
Every time I’m near this guy, a slow thrum of awareness tunes up between my legs. His big body, hard and solid with muscle, his dark hair and eyes… I gaze up at him, and it’s all too easy to imagine what it would be like to be underneath him. He’d probably order me, as bossy and dominant in bed as he is out.
And wouldn’t that be delicious?
No, no, no. I absolutely do not want Rafe, naked and looming over me, telling me what to do. That would be terrible.
Gawd, my panties are soaked. Time to get this conversation back on track. I take a second to remember how much Rafe annoys me and raise my chin.
“Honestly?” I say. “I came to see if you, um, still needed help. You know, in the kitchen. I’m, ah, not going to be able to reopen The Chocolatier at the moment.”
Rafe goes still, his brows angled together in concern.
It’s way more of a reaction than I expected from him. I don’t know what I thought he’d do—blow me off or tell me to fill out an application. But instead, he grabs my hand and draws me further into the Grille. “Come here,” he says gruffly.
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