Halftime Husband by Erin McCarthy

“Thanks.” She slid onto the stool and crossed her legs, revealing skin all the way to her hip. “I’d love another glass since Elijah drank half of my first one.”

I pictured my tongue trailing the path where that fabric split, all the way up to her inner thighs, where I would...

“Are you here with friends?” she asked.

I dragged my thoughts back to the present with monumental effort. “What?”

“Am I keeping you from someone?”

Nope. I was with my PA, who was neurotic on the best of days, and my assistant offensive coordinator, who I had known since college and I saw just about every damn day.

Hell, no, she wasn’t keeping me from those assholes. Hands down, I’d rather spend time with her. “Just a couple of colleagues. We’re here for the charity event. Sort of a ‘pop in, pop out’ thing. Three of us were free on Valentine’s Day so we got handed the task.” I raised my hand to order her another glass.

“I imagine you hate Valentine’s Day,” she said, giving me a slight smile. “It doesn’t seem like your thing, since you try so hard to be a grumpy guy.”

I wasn’t sure what had given her that impression other than me admitting to not enjoying overblown social events, but it didn’t seem to be turning her off, so whatever. And she wasn’t wrong. “I do hate Valentine’s Day,” I said. “Romance should be spontaneous, not required. It’s like a threat.”

“I’m mostly ambivalent about it.” She looked around. “What do you think makes this an anti-Valentine’s Day party like they billed it? I don’t see arrowless Cupids or petitions to cancel the holiday.”

“There is a table in the back where you can put a hex on your ex,” I said. Not my thing, but I wasn’t judging. Breakups could be messy.

“I don’t think anyone should be calling on voodoo to exact revenge. Whether it works or not, I have no clue, but I’m not messing around with stuff like that.” She waved her hand to emphasize her point. “Nope. Stay away from the voodoo.”

“I’m not messing with voodoo either. That seems like a bad idea for a lot of reasons. By the way, what did Elijah mean about you breaking a pattern?” I asked, curious.

“He isn’t the only one who historically has had bad taste in men.” She pointed to herself. “This girl can’t be trusted.”

I eyed her. What did that really mean? “You only date assholes?”

Not that it mattered. I couldn’t date her. I could have sex with her, but I couldn’t date her. My life was far too complicated with my job, traveling, my girls.

“Apparently.” She accepted the glass of champagne from the bartender with a thank you.

“Elijah clearly has faith in you.” I sipped my fresh martini.

“Elijah has faith in you, not me,” she said wryly.

That made me laugh. “I’m a total stranger to him.”

“Exactly. Yet he still trusts you to make better decisions than me.”

“Do you trust me?” I asked.

Her eyebrows rose. She turned in the stool toward me and her knee bumped my leg. “Yes. Within reason.”

“Then let’s get out of here. I’m shouting to be heard.”

“We just got drinks,” she said, but it sounded like a weak protest. She was smiling as she said it.

I lifted my drink, opened my throat, and took the dirty martini in one gulp, like a shot. I swallowed and shook my head a little. It burned, but it wasn’t too bad. “I’m finished with mine.”

Dakota laughed. “That was impressive.”

“I went to a lot of frat parties in college.”

“I didn’t go to college.” She took her glass of champagne and tipped it over my empty martini glass. She poured the liquid straight down onto my abandoned olive and vodka dregs. “Oops. I spilled my drink.”

Yeah. She made my cock hard. No fucking question about it.

“What should we do about it?”

“We can leave.” She opened her purse and started to pull out her credit card.

I touched her wrist. “No. This is on me.”

“Thank you.” Dakota tucked her card back in her purse. “So is this where you tell me you know a quiet place where we can get a drink and it turns out to be your apartment?”

That would be cheesy as fuck, but I would have gone for it if it was an option.