Simultaneously, I turned my head and yelped, “Jesus Christ!”
“You keep calling me that.”
Tilting my head back, I looked up to discover my café creeper flashing his bright whites at me for the second or third time today. He had changed out of his workout clothes and into dark gray cargo shorts and a royal blue T-shirt. Instead of smelling like citrus and man, the aroma of citrus and soapy man swirled in the air. He was all fresh, while I still looked like some unidentified object Linus coughed up.
Glancing away embarrassed, I said, “Are you following me?”
A chuckle vibrated his chest as well as the lady lair between my legs. The sensation unnerved me. It had been ages since the cobwebs down there had been shaken. Though I hated admitting it, my ex-boyfriend, Ben, had to put in a lot of work hours to get the hoo-ha humming and gain entrance. This dude did it in record time.
“I know it seems like I am, but I promise you it’s just a coincidence. A really nice coincidence,” he said.
Whipping my head in his direction, I blurted out, “I don’t always look like this. I’ve been cleaning house and running boring errands…and…um…that’s the reason for the… sloppy look I have going on. I didn’t realize I’d be getting stalked today. If I had known, I’d have dressed more appropriately.”
With every fiber of my being I couldn’t figure out why my mouth was still moving, and words were coming out. The corners of Butler’s full lips twitched upward as he stared at me. No doubt in awe of the speed at which I was able to make a complete fool of myself.
“I think you look pretty cute.”
A flush of warmth spread over my cheeks. There was something about the word cute that made me tingle. I mean, puppies and kittens were cute. But that word coming from his lips did something to me.
“I do have one issue with what you have on.” Butler crossed his arms over his chest.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood tall as I braced myself for what was sure to be an asshole comment. It never failed: hot outer shell directly correlated to dickhead inner shell.
“That hoodie,” he continued.
“What about it?”
“The 49ers? Really?”
My shoulders relaxed a bit.
“What about them? They’re a great team,” I countered.
“Well, first off, we’re in the south. You should be rooting for the Panthers, the Falcons, or even the Saints. I’m fairly sure it’s a regional law.”
“I’ve never been one to follow rules or pesky laws.”
“You’re an outlaw. Doesn’t surprise me.”
I did an exaggerated eye roll, making no attempt to hide it.
“And second, what the hell is a forty-niner, anyway?” he said.
“A forty-niner was a nickname for a miner or other person that took part in the 1849 California Gold Rush.”
Butler’s jaw loosened as he stared back at me with what I assumed was shock. A slight flutter tickled my stomach. It had nothing to do with his good looks or attention, but because I knocked him off-balance with my mad football knowledge.
“I’m impressed. Not only do you like football, but you also know football.”
“Is there some kind of rule that says a female can’t be a football fan? That’s so sexist.”
“Don’t do that.”
“Make me out to be a chauvinistic asshole.”
The back of my neck heated, only this time it was because of embarrassment. Butler was a nice guy just making conversation. I thought Ben was a nice guy too, until he wasn’t. Thanks to him my guard went up and went up quick, blocking Butler’s innocent comment.
Butler cleared his throat. “So, are you thinking about getting this bike?”
I glanced from him to the bike I had been admiring. “Not sure. I’m not much on exercise. Though it would be a fun way to get into shape.”
“I could help you get into shape.”
My eyes narrowed as I shot him a look.
Realizing how his words sounded, he stuttered, “Ah…that…um…didn’t come out right. I mean, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your shape. In fact, it’s awesome. Wait that sounded…uh. What I’m trying to say is I’m a coach. The new football coach at Porter High, so I know bodies…”
Damn, he was adorable when fumbling.
“Well, Coach, I’m going to think about the bike.” I made a circular motion with my hand. “And all that other stuff and be in touch.”
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