“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” was my mantra for Friday night as I pulled up at the address Lucky sent me.
That was also how I justified taking the man out. Because if it wasn’t a strategic move on my part, then I have lost my ever-loving mind.
It was one or the other.
And I’d obviously rather blame it on the job.
Cruising through the neighborhood Lucky lived in, I was surprised at how neat, clean, and full of greenery it was. It was also relatively close to where I was staying.
The houses residing in this area, including the one I parked in front of, were all one-story family homes, with beautiful wrap-around porches and lots of flowerbeds of various different vibrant colors.
Me: Here to pick you up, princess.
I grinned as my text got delivered.
Lucky: I just have to finish applying my makeup. I’ll be down in a second. xoxo
Me: No need to rush. Take your time. Just remember, in my eyes, you’re gorgeous no matter what you’re wearing, princess.
Lucky: Sweet talk isn’t going to help you get into my panties, you know.
As I read his last text message, I threw my head back and laughed like I haven’t in a long ass time.
Lucky: Aren’t you going to pick me up at my door? What kind of a gentleman are you?
Me: Silly me.
With a smile on my face, I jogged toward Lucky’s front door, then proceeded to announce myself by knocking on his door.
“Coming,” Lucky’s voice sounded over Zeus’s barking, his high-pitched imitation causing me to snort.
Before I could recover, the front door got wrenched open and a very edible looking man appeared in front of me.
Hot freaking damn.
Lucky was wearing a pair of black jeans, combat boots, a simple white, slim-fit T-shirt that hugged his every muscle.
Add a black leather jacket on top of that, and I was in heaven, or hell.
I was in freaking hell.
“Hi.” He grinned, doing a double-take himself.
“Hi.” I smirked, leaning backward and making a show of checking him out. “You look stunning.” I whistled for dramatic effect.
“Thank you.” The idiot twirled around.
“Come, we’re going to be late,” I started, then turned, sticking my right arm out in a universal gesture for him to loop his through it.
Lucky paused for a beat, visibly considering if he wanted to take the game we started further, but then he mumbled a ‘fuck it’ then looped his arm through mine.
“Have you ever ridden a motorcycle before?” I asked conversationally.
“Not as a passenger, I haven’t,” he grumbled, making me giddy inside.
This is going to be awesome.
“Don’t worry, princess. I won’t let anything happen to you. You’re safe,” I cooed, enjoying his discomfort.
“Trust me, that isn’t what I’m afraid of. I’d rather fall and break a leg than have one of the guys see me riding bitch.”
“Suit yourself.” I shrugged, pulling my own helmet on, then mounting my Harley and firing it up.
And just like I knew he would, he followed suit, then got on.
Albeit reluctantly and grumbling the whole time, but he did get on. “This better be the best damn date I’ve ever been on.”
“Oh, trust me. You’ll never forget it,” I called over my shoulder with a wink, then I pulled the throttle back and we were off.
“Where are we going?” I heard him shout.
Just as planned, we arrived at the clearing placed a mile behind my house way before sundown.
Once I pulled into the area I wanted to park in, I stopped with the clutch pulled and put down the kickstand, then waited for Lucky to get off first.
“You’re not a serial killer by any chance, are you?” He chuckled as he dismounted my Harley.
“Nope. Although if I were, I probably would answer your question the same way.” I smirked, got off, then started walking.
“Fair point.” He nodded as he fell into step with me.
No more than five minutes later, we arrived at our destination and for some reason, I found myself feeling anxious.
Anxious if he liked what I had planned.
Which was ludicrous.
I only agreed to this date because it was the only way he’d let me pay my dues, plus I needed information and I needed it fast.
I’ve been here for a week, yet all I had was a possible suspect whom I still had nothing on and that was about it.
So why was I feeling, dare I say, excited?
“Jesus,” Lucky breathed, snapping me out of my inner monologue. “How have I never known about this place?”
“It’s remote. I found it by accident the other day while jogging.” I smiled, taking in the beauty before me.
The hilltop looked like a tiny piece of heaven.
Anywhere you looked, all you could see was the clear blue sky with orange hues as the sun set, a huge variety of colorful flowers and butterflies dancing in the air.
It was magical.
And in the middle of it all was a neatly laid out blanket, a picnic basket, and a bottle of red wine.
“Not only did you set the bar incredibly high when it comes to planning dates, you broke the damn thing.” He laughed, eyes sparkling with what looked a lot like genuine joy and wonder.
“What can I say? I’m an all in or nothing kind of girl,” I replied as we took a seat next to the basket.
“Yeah… I figured.” He leaned back on his forearms, making his muscles bulge, effectively distracting me.
“How’s that?” I inquired curiously.
“You seem like the kind of woman who knows exactly what she wants in every aspect of her life. You’re also fiercely independent. As a result, if you want something handled, you do it yourself.”
“And what gave you that impression?” I asked, amused, then copied his pose, gazing into the sky.
“It’s just the way you hold yourself. Also, if you work with different people daily for as long as I have, you develop a knack for reading individuals.”
“How long’s that?”
“Decades.” He laughed, his caramel eyes fixed on mine.
“You’re that old, huh?” I smirked while I unpacked the food I brought.
“For the record, I look like a twenty-eight-year-old without my beard, or so I’ve been told.”
“Of course you do.” I snorted. “What are you? Forty-five? Fifty?” I continued as I handed him his hamburger.
“Didn’t your mama teach you how to behave like a gentleman?” Lucky gasped dramatically. “You never ask a lady about her age. Ever.”
“Oh, so we’re back to that now, are we?”
“Alright. Would you like some wine, m’lady?” I asked in a lower tone of voice, struggling to keep a straight face.
“Oh, my. Why, yes, I most certainly would.” He fanned his face.
“Here you go, princess.”
“Thank you.” Lucky flipped his non-existent long hair before taking a sip of wine.
For the next hour, we talked about everything and nothing while we watched the sunset.
I learned that he was an extrovert and a neat freak. He knew where every object was located in his house. He never, and I mean never, laid on his bed with his street clothes.
He loved driving in the storm, enjoyed swimming and was good at it, he was fluent in three languages, and was also a skillful cook, or so he said.
“Why are you here?” he asked all of a sudden, causing alarm bells to ring in my head.
“What made you come to Brooks?”
“Heard there were lots of eligible bachelors who are looking for stay-at-home wives they can take care of and finance. So, here I am.” I wiggled my eyebrows, trying to deflect the conversation.
“I moved here because it was remote and peaceful. The fact that the people here are like a giant dysfunctional family was just a plus,” he explained, ignoring my joke.
“Yeah… I noticed that part. Must be nice to have an entire community at your back.”
“It is.” He nodded. “Everyone needs someone in their corner. Do you have a person like that?”
“I do. I have a best friend back home.” I found myself disclosing.
“Why do I get the feeling that you don’t let people in easily?”
“Because I don’t,” I mumbled, never taking my eyes off the sun setting.
“It’s okay to be vulnerable, you know? You don’t have to be strong all the time,” he said, causing me to instinctively glance his way.
He was now lying on his back, head turned toward me, his eyes full of sincerity and understanding.
And I knew it was time for me to go.
Before I made a giant mistake… like confess all my sins to the handsome stranger that made me feel a certain type of way.
“We should get going. It’s getting late.”