The mystery kisser has to be one of the men sitting nearest to her, and Eliza is determined to kiss as many frogs as she needs to, until she finds her prince.
The moment Alan was out of sight, an annoyingly familiar voice reached her ears. “Well, look at that, Greg. The guy dropped her faster than you did.”
Oh, yay. The jerks had seen her.
To his credit, Greg said nothing, but Nate, best friend to the ass formerly known as her boyfriend, went on. “I mean, this one didn’t even get a kiss.”
“Cut it out, Nate,” Greg said flatly. The voice that used to make her shiver with lust now left her cold.
“Ah, come on. Let a man have some fun, will you?” Nate wasn’t the type to give up easily.
Eliza turned and glared at him. In all honesty, every time Nate made fun of her, she wished the earth would open and swallow her whole. But she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of backing down. “What exactly is your problem?” She hoped she sounded disinterested enough.
“Don’t have one.” He sounded as cool as she wanted to seem. “Don’t need one. I don’t like you.” Eyes sparkling, he high-fived Ethan-Something, who obviously found Nate’s comeback inspired.
Nope, he sure didn’t like her, and it was a pity. He was gorgeous—a real-life Adonis, with his green eyes, angelic face, and sculpted body. The eye-candy effect was ruined by the scorn he always directed toward her. He had disliked her ever since he’d first met her, when she and Greg were still together. Eliza wanted to attribute it to the way she’d turned down his lewd efforts to pick her up, but she didn’t really believe that was the case. Some people didn’t need a reason to be assholes.
“Well, there you go then.” She waved a hand dismissively. “That’s your problem. Deal with it.” She inwardly prayed she’d heard the end of it.
Bill, the most decent of the group, chuckled. He was always nice to her, and now she graced him with a thankful smile.
He winked, then turned to Nate. “Man, you’re like a dog with a bone. Leave it alone, already. She and Greg don’t see a reason to be mean to each other.”
He was wrong, of course. Boy, did Eliza see a reason to be mean toward Greg. But she’d chosen the high road, and he seemed to respect that. Her ex hadn’t always been so magnanimous. Not when he told The Guys how useless she was in bed, after he took her virginity.
Not when Nate mocked her for weeks afterward, for being dumped, while Greg just smirked.
She never found out what had made Greg change his tune. He just appeared at her house one day and apologized for everything. She hadn’t believed him, but for the year and a half since, he’d been more than civil.
It was more than could be said for Nate, who now leered at her. “Maybe I want her to be mean back. Nasty, even.” He waggled his tongue at her. “Come on. I bet you’ve learned a few tricks since Care-Bear here.”
She wanted to hurt him. Severely. He had no right to rub her face in her past mistakes or to use her old pet-name for Greg, stupid though it was. She was glad the room was dimly lit. Maybe he couldn’t see her blush.
The moment the thought crossed her mind, there was a loud puff, and the lights went out. If Nate said anything else, it was lost in the protests of the crowd, who were afraid the musicians wouldn’t be able to perform without electricity.
Eliza was too grateful for the reprieve the blackout gave her, to join in the protests. Alan wouldn’t find their table until the lights were back on, and by the time they did, Nate might have something else to keep him occupied.
There was a shift in the air around her, as though someone invaded her personal space. At first she thought they were trying to make their way around her table, but then fingers brushed her naked arms on their way up to her neck. She was too stunned to react when they got tangled in her hair and a warm breath caressed her cheek.
And then he kissed her.
That kiss… It was everything a kiss should be, full of yearning and promise.
The lights came on. Alan was approaching their table, drinks in hand. No way was he the one who kissed her in the dark. He’d been too far away.
She sucked in her lower lip and worried it with her teeth, as she tucked wayward locks randomly back into her ponytail. She was sure she looked the way she felt.
Eliza tried to get the kiss out of her mind the rest of the evening. She really did.
The band went on, and for a while she managed to enjoy the music and the company. Alan obviously sensed something had shifted in her view of him—maybe it was that she no longer hung on his every word—and tried his best to be his most charming self.
“I love your eyes,” he said. “What do you call that color?”
He was unfazed by her flat response. “No. Brown doesn’t describe the golden flecks in their depths.” He took her hand in his and leaned closer.
“Hazel.” He smiled as if she’d revealed the secret to happiness. Eliza didn’t share a fraction of his glee, or of the elation she’d felt when he asked her out. He was the same man she’d gone out with, but he’d somehow lost his shine.
“And your hair—”
“Blonde,” she said.
“Oh, I know. But it looks like so much more. Like”—he was going to say spun gold—“spun gold.”
“Right. That’s so nice of you to say.” She pulled away, pretending to need both hands to lift her cola.
“And this top…”
The man wouldn’t give up. And really, he shouldn’t have to. She agreed to go out with him, and until moments ago flirted back. Unless she told him she’d changed her mind, he had no way of knowing she was no longer interested.
“You know, I noticed you the very first day of classes,” he said. “You were gorgeous in that short pink dress.”
Eliza hadn’t owned a short pink dress since she was six, and she hadn’t attended the first day of classes because of the flu. Still, she appreciated the effort. She nodded and smiled. How on earth didn’t she notice sooner that the man was full of crap?
They never had an actual conversation before, but she still should have realized everything about him was rehearsed. His smile was the right amount of sad and promising, he had the puppy-eyed look down to a T, and while he was supposedly paying attention to what she was saying, he covertly scanned the crowd.
Alan Mayfield, the guy she pined over for a while now, was a player, and she never would have found out if it weren’t for her mysterious kisser.
She sighed at the memory of the most perfect kiss she’d ever shared with someone outside her imagination. Having no clue who she’d shared it with made her want to scream.
“You have such graceful fingers. Like a pianist.” Alan reached across the table, to caress her wrist with his thumb. “I play a little guitar, you know.”
Of course he did. Eliza tuned him out, letting him enjoy the sound of his own voice. She had more important things to focus on. Only the men within a ten-foot radius or so had time to kiss her and get back to their seats before the lights went on, and there were three tables that fulfilled that condition.
“Would you like another one?” Alan pointed to her half-finished Cola.
“Sure. Thank you.” She smiled. Without meaning to, he gave her time to evaluate her options. And he gauzed his, judging by his smile when he approached a brunette at the bar.
Eh, Eliza couldn’t begrudge him for trying his luck elsewhere, when she mentally walked out on him at least half an hour ago.
She stretched her neck and took in the cute, well-built guys sitting at the table to her left. She recognized them. The one in the middle was a teaching assistant, and the other two were from his dorm. Their usual clean-cut, what-you-see-is-what-you-get faces sported stubble tonight, and Eliza remembered hearing the TA—Sam or Sal or something—earlier that week, whining about an assignment that wouldn’t let him get any rest.
She smiled, and they all smiled back. Oh, well. She wouldn’t really mind if her mystery kisser was any of the three.
It could be either of the guys sitting right opposite her, though she hoped that wasn’t the case. One was dressed like a biker, the leather pants and Harley jacket clashing with the thin wire frame of his spectacles and the glass of white wine in front of him. The other was too flashy for her tastes. She never went for guys wearing more color than she did, and his turquoise jacket would be deemed more, even if she’d had the entire rainbow on her.
She shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but her thoughts were drawn to the third table of possible kissers.
Her first instinct was to rule all of them out. They were The Guys. Greg’s buddies. With the exception of Bill, they wouldn’t bother being polite to her, let alone be interested in kissing her.
For the sake of thoroughness, she had to at least consider them on an individual basis. She’d know if it were Greg. His lips were always dry, and he’d always made that sound when he kissed her. A combination between heavy breathing and a moan. It once made her hot, but the thought of it now raised her hackles. No way it was Ethan, either. Ethan would have stuck his hand up her skirt or grabbed her boobs if he’d kissed her, plus he was clean shaven.
Nate was out of the question, plain and simple.
That left Bill, who gave her an adorably goofy grin.
Nate noticed and smacked the back of Bill’s head with a dramatic roll of his eyes. God, he never failed to get on Eliza’s nerves. And he obviously enjoyed it.
By the way, my novel, Threefold is now out. Initially published as three novellas, Threefold includes three new scenes, including a naughty epilogue.
Colin Daniels is shallow, and proud of it. He only concerns himself with people who live up to his standards of beauty, and his best friend’s new girlfriend is found lacking. Becca is curvy, loud, and apparently all for public displays of affection. None of that would matter, if Colin didn’t find her sexy despite his better judgment.
Brad Miller thought he was being attentive to his girlfriend’s needs when he talked his best friend into having sex with her. It’s Becca’s fantasy he wants to fulfill, and that’s the only reason he’s trying to convince Colin to join the two of them on her birthday.
Becca Keith was never a one-man woman until she met Brad, but he’s made monogamy fun, and she’s head over heels for him. Her thirtieth birthday is in a few days, and Brad has promised her a rather unique gift—his best friend, cocky and irresistible Colin.
When Brad comes to her with a confession and a suggestion, Becca has a choice to make. She can stay with Brad, leave him, or give in to something that might make her happy beyond her wildest dreams.
Note: Previously published as separate novellas, Threefold contains three new scenes.
The story includes two stubborn, confused, and very hot guys, as well as a big beautiful woman, who loves sexy-times with more than one partners.