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Thursday Nights(7)

By:Lisa N. Paul

And her sex life always bordered on “why bother?” She’d had enough men tell her that she was frigid and cold in bed to realize they were probably right. But she could accept boring, unfulfilling sex if it came with an honest, loving man.

She watched Max pour a beer with his perfectly sculpted forearms and slide it to the customer in front of him. What she would do for Max…God, what wouldn’t she do for Max?

Her mouth suddenly dry, she picked up her glass and let the sweet liquid hit her lips.

“So, Max…what time do you get off tonight?” Lyla asked as Janie choked on her drink.

With all eyes on her—and her cheeks growing warm with embarrassment or lust—she shrugged. “What? You asked what time he gets off…that’s funny! Come on, Ly...that’s funny.” Lyla smirked.

“I don’t know when, or if, he will be ‘getting off’ tonight, but he gets off work right now,” Danny said with a wink to Janie and a squeeze to Max’s shoulder. Max gave Danny a questioning, are-you-sure look, and Danny nodded.

“Well, then, I guess I’m done for the night,” Max said, his gaze landing on Janie.

Janie looked at Lyla, eyes big as saucers. “Um…”

“I’m kind of exhausted,” Lyla said, stretching. “I think I’m gonna head out. I need to be up early tomorrow. Max, would you mind taking Janie home? You know where she lives, right?” Janie’s jaw dropped. Lyla knew the answer to that question before she asked it. Max had been to Janie’s apartment several times for Sunday dinner.

Max nodded. “My pleasure.”

A jolt of electricity surged through his body as he made his way out from behind the bar.

Janie’s body was still, but her heart was racing.

Lyla tapped her on the shoulder. “Janie?”

“Ly, I’ll come with you, no worries.”

Max weaved his arm around Janie’s waist though, pulling her away from Lyla. “Sex with friends, Janie,” he whispered into her ear, a question in his voice.

Exhaling what felt like all of the air in her body, she looked into the greenest eyes she had ever seen. “Max…I don’t know…I mean—”

“Let me take you home tonight, Janie. I’ve been thinking about you for months. Don’t tell me it’s one-sided.” His confident grin told her that he knew the attraction went both ways.

Between the warmth of his breath and his woodsy, clean smell, Janie had goose bumps running down her arms. Her focus keened on Max while addressing Lyla.

“Ly, I’ll…um…”

“Talk to me tomorrow.” Lyla slung her purse over her shoulder. “Hey, Max, be a kind man and a good boy,” she warned.

Something sexy quickly passed over Max’s handsome face before he smiled his patented lazy grin. “I promise to be a kind man.” Max winked and led Janie out the door.

“By the way,” he said in her ear, “the Jeep had a flat tire, so I had to drive my other car.”

Excitement rushed through Janie’s body at the impending ride…and she wasn’t just thinking about Max’s Ferrari.

Scanning the bar, Lyla watched as people began to pair off and leave together. Once Janie and Max left, she’d sat back down and ordered another drink. She glanced toward the corner table where she had seen the guy she wanted desperately to take home herself earlier in the evening. She had seen him at the bar on other nights but never talked to him. They had shared some pretty steamy looks, too, though he had never approached her. Normally she wouldn’t play so coy, but there was something about him that kept her from making the first move. She could tell he’d be dangerous for her. Not menacing or scary, but something worse…

She tried to shake his shadowed face from her mind. Her body reacted every time she saw him, and now even when she just thought of him. See? Dangerous. She was never lacking for male companionship, as Danny so thoughtfully pointed out earlier that night, and she snorted to herself. Something about her mystery man was different. He was the kind of guy she would write about in her novels. Tall, dark, brooding, and all alpha male. She didn’t know how she knew this without ever speaking a single word to him—she just did. But his chair sat empty, so what did it matter?

She shrugged and took another sip of her drink, then snickered to herself as her thoughts slid back to Janie and Max. “All I had to do was light the match. Here’s to the fire.” Lyla raised her glass to toast her good deed and took a deep pull of the sweet concoction.

“Don’t stand too close to the fire until you’re ready to feel the burn.” A gravelly voice whispered the words in her ear from behind and sent tingles down her spine.