NO KISSING ALLOWED By Melissa West
I rushed out of the bar and into the continuous noise that was New York City. Even at midnight, the streets were crowded with honking cars, the sidewalk overrun with people going out, going home, going about their lives. I found myself jealous of them. All I wanted was one last night, but I wasn’t that girl. The kind that hooked up with random guys just to do it. I blamed Trent, my college boyfriend, who I found, not so secretly, screwing his female roommate. I should have known. But now I found myself desperate to prove that I still had it. That I was attractive and sexy. That guys would want to be with me without seeking out someone else. In short, it had bruised my ego and now I was fighting to nurse it back to health.
I lifted my left leg to tighten the buckle on my heel, just as someone rushed past me, knocking me off balance. I reached out for the first thing I could find and my hands wrapped around a hard surface. I glanced up to see what wall I had nearly face planted against and straight into the chocolate brown eyes of a man that could be Chris Hemsworth’s twin. If he opened his mouth and spout out an Australian accent, I was going to faint. His dirty blond hair laid across his forehead in a way that said it knew it was perfect and didn't need ick and stick to make it that way. I reached out to touch the pretty hair and he jerked back, his face painted with humor. "Are you all right? You seem a little..."
Okay, clearly the buzz I thought was wearing off was still very much in place. I closed my eyes. God. I just tried to touch some stranger's hair. I realized I still had my hands on his biceps, which were so impeccably toned I had to wonder if he was flexing. No one had arms this hard. No one except Chris Hemsworth, but he wasn't real. Well, I guess he was real, but not real-real.
Thor Guy bent down so he was on my eye level, his mouth curved up at one corner. "Hello?"
I stepped away from him, suddenly embarrassed and tired and wishing I had listened to Mom's speech about responsibility and all that because I wouldn't be on the street, stroking the arm of some stranger, who kept looking at me like I was a lost puppy. Or a street act. I couldn't be sure.
"Uh, yeah. I'm fine. Thanks." I spun on my heels and went in the opposite direction—even though my apartment was only a few blocks away and I was now going the wrong way. I had to get out of there with the little bit of dignity I had left.
"Wait," the man called. I didn't stop. He reached out for my arm.
"Yes?” I said, turning to look at him. I noticed for the first time that he was wearing a suit. Black with clean lines. Expensive. His white button down was unbuttoned at the top and his red tie had been loosened at the collar. I wondered if he, like me, had just left a bar. It was late. I couldn't imagine he was coming from work.
He shook his head, a grin on his face. “I’ve had a long day, and by the looks of it, so have you.
There’s another bar just down there.” He pointed past me. “Since this one doesn’t seem to be a favorite. Would you like to get a drink?”
I drew a breath. “I shouldn’t.”
I fought the urge to smooth down my hair, and that was when I caught sight of Random Bar Guy through the bar’s glass door. He was looking around, carrying something in his hand. Shit. My jacket. In my effort to flee, I must have left it behind.
I eyed the Michael Kors jacket, torn between the three-hundred dollars I’d spent on it and my self-respect. This was why Lauren said I needed therapy for my fashion addiction. If I’d only spent fifty bucks on it, I would walk away without a second glance. Damn it. My heart clenched at the sight of the camel-toned leather. It was so soft, so pretty, fit so perfectly. I sighed heavily.
“Do you know him?” Thor asked, his gaze following mine.
I bit the inside of my cheek, fighting the urge to cry. I loved that jacket. I let my eyes drift back up to his, resolved that I would have to say goodbye to it. So long, beautiful jacket, our time together was fun. “No,” I said with a smile. “I thought he was someone I knew, but I was wrong. So, about that drink.”
His grin widened and he placed a firm hand on my back, directing me toward the bar.
We settled into the far right corner of the bar, him ordering a scotch neat, me a vodka tonic. Losing the jacket had sobered me up fast and I needed a quick fix to heal the hole in my heart. I scolded myself for wearing it at all, but the early fall air in the city had proved to be chilly at night and the Southern girl in me couldn’t survive the chill without a jacket.
I remembered my mother’s face when I told her I’d decided on NYU for college. She looked as though I told her I was going to school in Africa. She hoped I would choose Alabama or Tennessee or any one of the other acceptable Southern universities, which meant a school with a solid football program, because to my family, college was not college without football. But I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I couldn’t do it in the South. I had always loved the idea of advertising and marketing, so when someone from Sanderson-Lowe, the top advertising agency in the country, came to our career day at school, I sat, eyes wide, listening to every word she said. I knew there was no other career for me. I researched the top agencies in the country, and sure enough, all of them were in New York. I remembered applying to NYU and thinking that even though my grades were amazing and my college fund was more than enough to cover the tuition, I would never get in, never get to go.
But then I received my acceptance packet and everything felt right in my world. Four years and two internships later, and I was there, in New York, the day before my first day as Assistant Account Manager at Sanderson-Lowe. I could almost squeal. Of course, I would be poor. I would be less than poor. But I would be doing what I loved and that was enough. For now.
“I’m Aidan, by the way,” Thor said, bringing me back to the moment.
“Cameron.” I bit my lip to keep from smiling. He was the sort of man you wanted to smile at just to guarantee you kept his attention. “So what do you do, Mr. Aidan?”
He leaned in closer, his eyes on mine. “Let’s not do that. The small talk. It's a waste of time and a bore. I don't care what you do. And you don't care what I do. But you can keep calling me mister if you'd like." His mouth turned up at the corner. “I like that.”
I dropped my gaze and peered up at him through my lashes. This guy had ignited heat in my stomach without even touching me. "Okay." I lifted my hand to flag the waiter. "Another vodka tonic for me."
“Aidan's eyes swept down to the low neckline of my dress. "Same," he said without looking at the waiter. “I thought you were only having the one.”
“I changed my mind.” I moved in closer, our faces inches apart. A gust of wind could have us kissing.
"So, if no small talk, then what do you want to do?”
Our drinks came and he turned his back, his eyes never leaving mine. "I have a few ideas."
I smiled, and within minutes we were inside a cab, his lips warm against my cheek, my neck, my ear.
For a moment, I felt guilty that I barely knew him. What would my mother think? But then his mouth found mine and all thought was gone. I surrendered to him, letting go one last time before responsibility and adulthood took control of my life.
No kissing. No touching. And definitely no falling in love...
Armed with her besties, an embarrassing number of shots, and her list of 10 Wild Things To Do Before Adulthood, recent grad Cameron Lawson is partying it up before she starts her dream job at New York's biggest ad agency. Her last task? Hook up with a random guy. And while it's so not her style, the super-sexy guy sitting next to her is definitely game. No names. No details.
At least, that was the plan.
On her first day of work, Cameron discovers her hook-up is none other than Aidan Truitt-her new boss's boss. Talk about failing the "no fraternizing with coworkers" policy on an epic level. Especially when Aidan makes it clear their one night was only the beginning. Falling for him could cost her everything, but sometimes the only way to get what you want is by breaking a few rules...
About Melissa West:
Melissa West writes heartfelt Southern romance and teen sci-fi romance, all with lots of kissing. Because who doesn't like kissing? She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
Connect with Melissa at www.melissawestauthor.com or on Twitter @MB_West.
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