Burn Me Once - Page 10

‘Sooo...’ he says on a laugh. A husky laugh. ‘This isn’t how I thought my night would be going down.’

I don’t know if it’s an intentional double entendre but I have an instant image of him doing just that—going down on me—in my mind, and my face heats up.

Unknowingly, I quicken my step. ‘You and me both,’ I hear myself respond, hugely impressed at my ability to sound almost normal.

‘What were your plans tonight?’

‘Drinks with the girls.’ I shrug. ‘Then home by ten to catch up on Poldark and do a face mask.’

He pulls a face.

‘What? You don’t approve?’

‘Of Poldark? It’s something my mother watches.’

‘Mmm... Her and every other red-blooded woman on the planet.’

‘Seriously?’

He squeezes my hand again. I love the way that feels. Like he’s reaching right into my heart and giving it a little paddle with electricity.

‘Uh, yeah. Poldark is awesome. Hot, hot, hot. You should watch it.’

‘After that recommendation? How could I not?’

We stop at an intersection and traffic moves through it, too thick for us to go against the lights. And so we wait.

The night is balmy—I love New York nights like this.

‘Yeah. Summer’s got something going for it.’

I hadn’t realised I’d spoken aloud until he answered my observation. He pulls my hand, so that I bump closer to him. I love the way he smells. The way he feels. A shiver of something a bit like apprehension runs down my spine but I refuse to analyse it. The problem is, though, I’m really not this girl any more. I used to be able to just roll with the night...have fun without taking a second to think about the consequences.

When, exactly, did I grow out of that?

I remember learning to drive and my dad telling me that young people always think they’re invincible. I guess it’s true. It’s so easy to believe that nothing will happen—nothing will go wrong.

And nothing has gone wrong for me, yet caution has set into my bones along with age. At twenty-five I am less able to ignore the paths before me, and I wonder which this night will lead to.

After we’ve slept together—then what? Do I stay the night? Or creep out while he sleeps? If I stay, do we have breakfast together?

And then...?

Do I give him my number and wonder if Ethan I-have-won-a-million-Grammys Ash will call me? Worse, do I take his number and then call him? Agonising over what to say and whether he wants to see me again?

‘So, Alesandre, when you’re not being impossibly sexy in tacky bars what do you do with yourself?’

‘Alesandre is just the Italian version of Alexandra, you know.’

‘Mmm. So that’s a no. Altona?’

I laugh and shake my head. The lights switch to green and we move across the street, each as swiftly as the other, our mutual anxiety to be in privacy barrelling towards us.

‘My flatmates chose the venue.’ I wrinkle my nose. ‘They like it.’

They like the prices, really, but loyalty keeps me quiet on that score. Cassie’s a Broadway actress, but roles are few and far between and she’s forever auditioning and waiting for her big break. She’s an incredible performer, though—I have no doubt she’ll hit it big. Eliza is a primary school teacher, and while she works hard she seems to spend almost her entire salary on stuff for her students. New supplies, craft projects, science experiments...

Maybe if she didn’t insist on doing that we’d be able to drink in slightly more salubrious accommodations.

‘You’re not from New York?’

‘How can you tell?’ I look up at him, surprise obvious on my face.

He draws us to a slow stop just before moving down East Twenty-Second. ‘Your accent.’

‘You can pick up on that?’

He grins. ‘Is that weird?’

I bite down on my lip to stop myself groaning at how damned sexy the twist of his lips is. Ahead of us, the retro light installation above the Gramercy Park Hotel leads a path to our immediate future. Beneath it there’s a huddle of people. I’m not sure, at first, why they’re just standing there—and then I make out the shape of a long-lens camera.

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