Copyright © Nicole Austin, 2015
Tessa goes first, having a private discussion with Sheila and I step away to wait my turn feeling rather shell-shocked. I step up to the bar, lean heavily into the padded edge and exhale a hard breath, blowing a wisp of hair away from my eyes. A snifter of dark amber liquid appears in front of me and I look up into the dark, knowing eyes of an ursine male.
“A Primal Delights virgin.” He nudges the glass toward my hand. “Drink this. It will help.”
I chuckle and pick up the glass with a nod of thanks. “That obvious?”
“I’ve worked here long enough to recognize the wide-eyed look of a first-timer.”
Gently swirling the glass and allowing my palm to warm the liquid, I take a deep breath, enjoying the rich scent of the cognac, feeling better before even tasting the first sip. The liquor goes down smooth, spreading fingers of relaxing warmth through me.
“I didn’t realize how involved it would be.” I gaze at his shirt, looking for a name tag.
“Conall,” he says in a thick Irish brogue and extends his hand. The butterflies are fluttering about again. I’m such a sucker for accents.
My small hand is engulfed in the warmth of his larger one and my voice comes out on a breathy rasp. “Lindy.”
“American,” he states. Leaning over the bar, Conall turns my hand in his grasp and places a warm kiss against my wrist. “How long will you be gracing our fine city?”
“Irish devil,” I remark in a bland tone, enjoying the view as his lips spread into a broad smile.
“Devilish enough to earn the pleasure of yer company in a private room?” He pours it on thick and arches his brow in inquiry.
Oh, I like Conall. He’s a welcome reprieve.
“Hmm…,” I murmur and take another sip of cognac while drinking him in. Wavy brown hair, sparkling bronze eyes, dark stubble shadowing a strong jaw, tall and leanly muscled. Handsome and charming but not flipping my lust switch, dammit. Still, I don’t want to turn him down flat. “A possibility…after I explore for a bit.”
He sighs and nods to my now empty snifter. “Favor another?”
Conall refills the glass then glances over my shoulder. “Looks like ‘tis yer turn with the matchmaker.”
I turn to find Sheila headed my way and mutter, “Oh boy.”
As we walk over to her booth, my gaze skates around the ballroom but I don’t see Tessa anywhere. A small tendril of alarm tightens my chest. What if I don’t find her again?
Sensing my unease, Sheila stops at a door with a plaque reading Lounge. “At the end of the evening, you can reconnect with your companion in here.”
“Thank you.” Expelling a relieved breath, I start to relax, thanks to the cognac spreading through my body.
“I was approached by a male who expressed interest in you.”
And there went any sense of relaxation. Sheila’s statement takes me by surprise and has the butterflies acting up again.
“Really? Who?” I lift the glass to my lips and take a surreptitious glance around but see no one nearby.
Picking up a tablet from the counter, she taps the screen and a devastatingly gorgeous male’s face appears. He has warm, honey-blond hair with streaks of color from platinum to chestnut. Vibrant green eyes, crinkled slightly at the corners, pierce right through me. He has a broad Roman nose with a sloping tip above sensual, soft looking lips and a chiseled, square jaw with the perfect amount of dark stubble to keep him from being too beautiful.
“Hello, Lindy.” His voice strokes my name, wrapping around me, warm and enticing. It’s a deep, whiskey-rough tone that I’d love to hear whisper naughty things in my ear.
Clutching the tablet, I pause the video and wander away from the booth to sit on the edge of a plush couch. Sliding my finger over the screen, I restart the video from the beginning.
“Hello, Lindy.” A breathy sigh passes my lips. God, the way his voice caresses my name.
“My name is Sebastian.”
“Sebastian.” I breathe his name, liking the way it rolls over my tongue.
“You walked into the club tonight and took my breath away. I would love to meet you, perhaps share a drink and some conversation. See where it may lead.” His lips move sinuously, forming innocuous words. Remarkably, I feel my body heating, my breasts swelling, growing heavy. It has to be those fathomless, intense eyes. They stir something inside me, inexplicably drawing me in.
“If that interests you, Sheila will escort you to the private booth where I am waiting.” His eyes stare into me as if he sees right into my soul. “Don’t keep me waiting.” The last comes out firm, a command.
Normally dominant males make my hackles rise, but the seduction of his husky voice has me eager to comply. Still, I take my time to consider his offer. Swiping my finger over the screen, I watch the short video again, squirming on my seat. There’s really no decision to be made. He’s the one. The male I traveled all this way for. I know it.