The Sand Bar, a cool little club in a tucked-away lane off Melbourne’s
Chapel Street, was pumping that Saturday night.
cute!’ said Franny, shouting to be heard.
Caitlyn played with her sparkly chandelier earrings as she stared
dreamily at the buff Cutey Patootey in the t-shirt and jeans at the
other end of the bar. ‘Isn’t he just? And for an outdoorsy type guy
he actually has really nice hands. I’m sure he plays the piano.’
Franny laughed into her cocktail sending the flamingo swizzle-stick
spinning. ‘If he plays the piano then the doodles on the notepad
beside my phone make me the next Picasso.’
Caitlyn dropped her hand to her drink and blinked at Franny.
‘Only you would see husband potential in a first date.’
‘I never! I – ‘
‘You know you do!’ Franny said, cutting Caitlyn off. ‘You see hearts
and flowers, when what you actually need is a guy who can keep you in
line. Who doesn’t let you get away with the crap you usually do. One
who dances to the beat of his own drum, not yours.’
Caitlyn glanced back at Cutey Patootey just as he sucked in his
washboard stomach as a pair of bouncy blondes swayed past. Her mouth
twitched. ‘Believe me, I’m not hearing wedding bells this time.’
Franny gave her a nudge, then out of the corner of her mouth said,
‘But have you heard bedsprings creaking?’
Caitlyn smacked her hard on the upper arm. ‘We met a week ago.’
Franny shook her head like that was no kind of answer, which in
Frannyland it wasn’t.
Caitlyn, on the other hand, wasn't about to jump into bed with some
random guy just because he gave her that sweet rush that came from
meeting someone new. That had never been her bag. For her, the
attraction was all about the delicious slow burn at the beginning of a
relationship. The shy glances, and first touches and stolen kisses,
and that build of delicious tension til they could no longer keep
their hands off one another -- What a thrill! So much better than
the realty that always came later. So Cutey Patootey was going to
have to wait.
He glanced back at the girls and grinned; big, brawny, honestly a
little less erudite than she might have liked. But Franny was right,
with the dimples and spiky blonde hair he was ridiculously cute.
With a self-satisfied smile, Caitlyn motioned to Franny she was about
to make a beeline for the ladies room for a freshen up. She sucked in
her stomach and ducked and weaved her way through the heaving Saturday
night club crowd.
Once through she let out her stomach and craned her neck to see which
direction the rest rooms had gone, when she turned and smacked face
first into a wall.
At least it felt like a wall. That was until she reached out and
grabbed it and discovered it was warm, and slightly yielding, and
wearing a suit.
She tried to push off it only to find the crowd pressing at her back.
‘Whoa,’ she said, half-laughing, half hanging on for dear life as she
righted herself using the wall as her guide.
And then she looked up. And up. And up.
Dark hair, dark eyes, dark expression. Hello Handsome.
She stood staring into those dark eyes for a long time. Seconds?
‘So sorry,' she finally said, as breathless as though she’d had the
air knocked from her lungs.
Then just when she decided he wasn’t going to answer her back, a deep
dark velvet voice said, ‘Whatever for?’
She swallowed. Tried to anyway. Turned out her mouth had dried up.
Shaking her fringe from her eyes and feigning a confidence that was
feeling a tad shaky right about then, she looked right into his eyes,
and said, ‘I don’t make a habit of throwing myself into the arms of
‘Yet you’re so good at it.’
She laughed, and her breasts pressed against him. His hard warm
chest. She felt a weakening at the back of her knees. She curled her
hands tighter around his lapels.
She wished she could see his eyes better. To see if he was smiling
too. The club wasn’t exactly dark, but he somehow seemed to swallow
the light around him.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘so it’s a move. Not an original one. A classic,
really. And I’m sticking by it.’
‘Mmm. There’s a reason why classics become classics,’ he drawled, his
rich velvety voice making her shoulders roll as though someone was
running a slow finger right down her spine.
She could feel the beat of the music in her stomach. Or perhaps it
was her pulse, thumping hard and fast through her centre. Unless it
was his pulse. His thumping. They were pressed close enough for it
‘Caitlyn March,’ she said, figuring it impolite to be quite so
plastered against the man and not at least introduce herself. She
unpeeled a hand to shake his.
‘Nice to meet you.’
The house lights flashed at that moment - on off on off - in time with
an eighties dance hit and she finally saw his face. Gorgeous didn’t
even begin to cut it. It was the kind of face she’d have immediately
looked away from if caught staring for fear of public drooling.
And then he smiled.
It wasn’t a grin by any stretch of the imagination. But the serious
cheek creased in the kind of way that set a girl’s heart to racing,
and the dark eyes gleamed, but it was plenty enough to make Caitlyn
feel like she’d just been clubbed over the back of the head.
Her brain became a fog. She could see the wave and sway of dancing
clubbers out of the corner of her eye, and it felt as though they were
moving in slow motion. The steady thump of the music continued
pulse in her stomach. Lower. Boom, boom, boom.
Were the two of them swaying in time with the music now? If not, it
felt like they sure as heck should be.
‘Are you a dancer?’ she asked. But when she felt him take a breath to
answer, she got in first. ‘I meant do you get your dance moves on at
places like this? Not professionally, of course. I didn’t mean you
look like a ballerina or anything. And I’m not sure it would be
physically possible to achieve head-spins in that suit.’
No response, not that she blamed him. Though his chest rumbled
deliciously against hers. Was he laughing? God, she was literally
having to stop herself from breathing the guy in he smelled so
delicious, and he was laughing.
She knew she ought to just let him be, to back away slowly and
go...wherever it was she’d been planning to go when she stumbled upon
him. Where was that again? But he smelled so good, felt so solid,
gave her such an array of the most delicious goose bumps she couldn’t.
She realised then that his arms were around her. Not inappropriately
in any way shape or form. The song playing was the kind that always
had half the nightclub trying to squeeze onto a dance floor three
sizes too small and he was merely keeping her from smacking into any
other night clubbers. Or walls for that matter. It was a gentlemanly
She was bumped, jostled, nudged closer. His arms tightened. The
crowd moved away. His arm did not. And suddenly it didn’t feel so
gentlemanly after all.
He shifted his weight. Or maybe she’d shifted hers. Either way when
the shifting stopped they were closer again. Her thighs were
introduced to the hardness of his. His belt buckle got to know the
dent of her belly button. Her blood rushed so hard and fast through
her, her head had begun to spin.
She felt like the floor had dropped out from under her and she was
balancing on the edge of a wedge. Like if the guy moved the wrong way
- or more specifically the right way – she might leap into his
arms, wrap her legs around him and never let go. He was so strong, so
warm, he had her wondering if there was a back alley to the place. A
hard, private wall up against which he and she could –
And then she remembered the guy at the bar. The guy with whom she was
on a date. Whatshisname? Seriously, what was his name?
From "THE RULES OF
by Ally Blake
Harlequin Presents Extra - December 2012
Text Copyright: © 2011
Copyright © 2012
Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
Permission to reproduce text
granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with
Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.
® and ™ are trademarks
owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated
companies, used under license.
This one's for fairy dust. May it sparkle for you too.