Darkly (Follow Me #4) by Helen Hardt



            She looks down at her wrinkled silk blouse and skinny jeans. Her gorgeous brown hair is falling out of its ponytail. Again, I imagine it unbound and free, gloriously curtained over her shoulders and back.

            She eyes Addison’s closed door.

            “You don’t need her permission,” I say.

            “I wasn’t—”

            “Sure you were. Your boss doesn’t particularly like me, so you were wondering if going to dinner with me would somehow cost you your job.”

            She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out.

            “Are you good at your job, Skye?”

            Skye. I love the way her name sounds as it rolls off my tongue—like a caress.

            Her cheeks redden. Again. It’s off-brand for me to push a woman who’s not interested, but this one is interested. She’s just not admitting it.

            More importantly, I’m interested. Really interested.

            She licks her lips. “Well, I—”

            “Let’s attack this from a different angle. How long have you been working for Addison?”

            “Almost a year.”

            “Then clearly you’re good at your job, or she would have gotten rid of you long ago. Addison might be a pain in the ass, but she’s smart. She won’t let a good thing go.” One corner of my mouth twitches slightly. Man, I want to smile. This woman really makes me want to smile. I’ve perfected my poker face over the years, to the point where I use it not only in professional situations but also personal ones.

            But then I let go.

            I smile.

            I fucking smile like I’ve never smiled before.

            “I’m not dressed appropriately,” she says, meeting my gaze.

            “I didn’t say we were going to a black-tie affair.”

            “I don’t think—”

            I interrupt her. “You look fine. It’s dinnertime, and I’m hungry. I don’t feel like eating alone for once. Don’t make more of this than it is. Your job will be safe.”

            She opens her mouth, and her stomach lets out a famished growl. Adorable. Freaking adorable, this woman.

            “You’re obviously hungry,” I say. “Let’s go.”

            She walks toward the door of the office. “Okay. Where are we going?”

            I hide my enthusiasm at her acceptance. Why do I feel like jumping for joy? Sure, I haven’t had sex in a while, but I’m never this eager.

            “I feel like oysters,” I say.

            “Sounds good,” she says as I open the door for her. “Wait,” she adds.

            “What?”

            “I don’t even know you. I… I’ll meet you there. What restaurant are you thinking?”

            Smart of her. I like her more already. “Union Oyster House. You want me to get you a cab?”

            “Sure. I guess.”

            “Or you can drive with me. It’s not far, and I personally guarantee your safety.”