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LARA HAD TO press her lips together to keep the grin at bay.
Long one, indeed.
No matter how long he thought his...list might be, she wasn’t interested. Besides, when it came to reasons to be pissed, no matter how impressively big he thought his was—and she was pretty sure it was damned impressive—her list was way longer.
And any guy who could flirt with a woman while insulting her apparent relative definitely appealed to her. She had a thing for cocky guys.
But that thing tended to get her in trouble. So she’d learned the hard way that it was better—that she was better—if she straight up ignored it. Or, in unignorable cases such as the gorgeous guy standing in front of her, if she got the hell away as fast as possible.
With that in mind, she shifted her weight back on her heels, wrapped her fingers tighter around her backpack and prepared to swing again if he didn’t let go.
Before she could, before she could even issue her warning, one of the creep cadre sauntered over.
The temptation to say no, to ask for help, lasted about a second and a half. Lara flicked a glance at the gorgeous mountain of a guy holding her arm, then jerked her head at the four guys, indicating they should split. Even if they did manage to take him, the price they’d want for helping her was more than she was willing to shell out.
Nope, she’d take her chances with the gorgeous mountain.
She could handle him.
Forcing herself to ignore the mental images of the various parts of him she’d really like to handle, she cocked her head to one side, giving the hand on her arm a flick of her fingers.
“You’ve got an interesting pickup line, big guy. What do you call this? The Neanderthal approach? Grab a woman in an alley, grunt a few times about fake relatives and show off your studly moves for the local cockroaches?” She hoped her smile was snarky and not shaky, but her nerves were wound too tight to tell.
If she’d hoped to offend him into letting go, she straight up failed.
Instead, he shifted. His thigh grazed hers and while his fingers didn’t actually move, she felt as if he’d just caressed her arm. His dark eyes turned molten, and his lips quirked into a sexy little smile. Heat swirled through Lara’s system like a whirlwind, filling her body with longings and her mind with crazy thoughts.
“Tell you what, sweetheart. Why don’t we get out of this alley and I’ll work up a line you’ll like much better.” His words were silky smooth. So slick and easy that she doubted he’d ever had a single unsure moment in his life.
Now her nerves were racing for a whole different reason.
Eyes wide, Lara wet her lips.
His eyes dropped, amusement fading.
Lara’s stomach clenched.
Not out of fear.
This was pure, liquid desire.
She’d rather be afraid.
But she also wanted out of the alley. She knew all eyes were still on them, that the creep cadre was only waiting for a chance to unleash their ugly.
“Why don’t we go out front,” she suggested after clearing her throat a couple of times. Out front were real people. Tourists and cops and traffic. She figured it’d take her three, maybe five minutes to ditch him there.
“Let’s go,” he agreed.
As if he knew she was going to bolt, he kept hold of her arm as they made their way to the end of the building. As soon as they rounded the corner, Lara relaxed. Like a lullaby, the sounds of traffic, people and music soothed. She glanced at the mountain out of the corner of her eye, then wished she hadn’t.
He shouldn’t look as intimidating out here.
But he was.
The dim alley lighting had hid his scariest feature.
Lara cringed, averting her eyes in hopes that the stained, dirty sidewalk would wipe the image away.
He had dimples.
Dimples on a guy—those were fatal.
“Coffee?” Dimpled and Gorgeous asked.
“What?” Lara looked up and almost sighed. She didn’t have time for a guy like him.
It’d take hours, maybe days, even, to explore that body. Weeks just to get through her own fantasies about sex with a gorgeous, dimpled guy. God knew how long it’d take if he had fantasies of his own.
Nope. She glanced at her watch. She was already late.
She risked another look at him, noting the stubborn set of his chin and the determined light in those dark blue eyes. Blue, she thought as her nipples tightened. Blue eyes and dimples. The man was toxic.
Her mental debate took all of two seconds. She wasn’t going to convince him to let her go and she couldn’t match his strength. There was only one option left.
Seduce him stupid.
Depending on the street crowd and traffic to keep her from going overboard, Lara shifted. Just an inch to one side, but the move pushed her breast against his arm, her foot brushing his so their thighs touched.