Legend says Niagara Falls has magical powers…
Selina LeClézio is no stranger to making mistakes. Sometimes she even seeks them, knowing full well the consequences. But dating a tourist has never been on her to-do list. Working on a Niagara Falls boat tour puts her fair share of prospects in front of her, but none has been worth taking a chance on. None, that is, until Nathan Lawson stepped onboard.
Nathan Lawson is only in Niagara with his two best friends on vacation. He planned for a carefree time enjoying local brews, fishing, and—of course—a tour of The Falls. What he couldn’t have foreseen was meeting Selina.
The pair fall into a hot, easy fling. Neither of them are bothered by the short-term reality until tragedy strikes, and they are torn apart much too soon.Nathan is forced to return to the states as Selina is thrust into her own personal struggles. Yet neither can forget their connection. Show Excerpt
Excerpt Chasing Dreams by Kelli Evans – Excerpt
The day was warm and getting increasingly warmer. The weather was amazing. Usually, winter clutched on with its cold, clammy hands for much longer. Meteorologists had called for an early summer, and because of that, tourist shops opened up earlier than usual. Selina LeClézio had started working again for the boat tours of The Falls much sooner than in years past.
She enjoyed it. She loved The Falls, and she loved her job. Most people who came to Niagara Falls took a boat tour, and Selina got paid to take it daily. Granted, some days weren’t as luxurious as others, but it pretty much beat working at her sister’s bait shop. Selina worked with Angeline at Bait & Tackle in the winter and during the off months from the tour.
Selina loved her sister but found working with her at the bait shop boring, and she didn’t really like going home smelling like worms. Selina and Angeline shared a house, and the months they worked together dragged on and became unbearable. They were as close as sisters got, but they each had their limitations, and all day, every day, with each other was too much.
Working for the boat tours recharged Selina. She loved the sound of The Falls, the wind, and the spray. The unusually warm days had made Selina feel flirty. She’d traded out the uniform’s heavy, insulated wind breaker for a tour-issued blue vest instead. She even decided to wear a skirt today in place of her usual jeans. No matter how windy it was or how the mist tried to prickle her skin, the sun felt warm on her face. She closed her eyes to it, soaking it all in.
She really did love this. The rocking of the boat, the rhythmic pat-pat of the water against the hull, and of course, the rushing of those falls. Selina breathed in deeply and smiled at the laughter of children on the deck. She opened her eyes to watch a young brother and sister chase each other, winding around their mother’s legs.
Most of the passengers aboard were older people or young families. Kids never seemed to appreciate The Falls in quite the same way as the adults, but they were fun to have around. It involved a little more work for Selina, but she didn’t mind. She would need to dig out a pair of life jackets for the two of them.
She loved hearing them laugh. She was watching the young pair of siblings giggling and teasing each other when a shiver traveled up her spine. Someone was watching her. She looked around and shook off the feeling. Of course someone was watching her; she was on a boat full of passengers. Then the hairs prickled at the nape of her neck, and chills raced across her skin. Even her nipples had grown taut.
She was hyperaware of something. She looked around again, taking a closer look this time. The only people she spotted now that she hadn’t seen before were three college kids hanging out on the right side of the deck.
She knew they were college kids because college guys had a certain look about them, an easiness in their shoulders, a twinkle in their eye…their fraternity shirts helped to tip her off too. She smiled at the three of them laughing with each other. They seemed close. She didn’t know why she found them amusing because usually by the end of the season she couldn’t stand college kids. Today, however, she couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off these three.
They were each different heights, and all of them had a different hair color and body build. Each of them appeared to be attractive in his own way. But the one in the middle was different. He stood taller, darker, and hotter than the other two. He was fit and athletic; every move he made seemed effortless and powerful.
Selina had a thing for dark-haired men with chiseled jaws. Then he glanced up and she caught sight of those startlingly green eyes. She nearly gasped at the sight. A wave of awareness fell over her, and the chills were back as he caught her looking. Embarrassed, she should have averted her gaze, but she couldn’t. Those eyes of his were so bewitching that they held her in place.
Nathan Lawson watched the girl across the deck from him. She wore a blue vest with a name tag pinned to it but was too far away for him to read it. Nathan had originally glanced up because he’d gotten that feeling at the base of his neck and a niggling in the pit of his stomach, a telltale sign that someone had been watching him.
When he looked up, she’d instantly caught his eyes. It felt like a kick to the solar plexus. Sounds awful, but the breathless feeling he got from just seeing her was euphoric. She was beautiful. He didn’t know if he’d ever seen anyone in real life that was this beautiful. He’d had girlfriends who were attractive, who were cute, sexy—pretty, even—but this girl who stared at him from across the way was strikingly beautiful.
Tendrils from her pulled-back, black hair had found their way loose and framed her face and long elegant neck. Her skin was tinted a natural olive color. Her bone structure seemed delicate, her jaw smooth and slim, her face soft and feminine. She had full, pouty, pink lips, wide, almond-brown eyes edged by shapely brows, and high-structured cheekbones.
Even her body was dainty. She looked wispy, but there was strength to the way she held herself. Strength that was in direct contrast to the long, slender, piano-player fingers and the delicate, almost fragile features of her face and shoulders.
“Jesus, Nate.” His shorter, auburn, curly-haired friend, Charlie O’Connell, backhanded him in the gut, knocking all the remaining air from his lungs.
“What?” Nathan broke eye contact with the girl across the deck for the first time in a long, breathless moment.
“Wipe your chin. You’re drooling.” He laughed.
Nathan knew Charlie had to be joking, but he found himself running the back side of his hand under his bottom lip in case he wasn’t.
Nathan looked back up, and the beautiful girl he’d shared a glance with was standing right in front of him now. Her eyes widened when he looked at her, almost as if he’d startled her. She was close enough now that he could read her name tag, Selina. It seemed to fit her somehow.
“I need in there.” She pointed, and he followed her gaze to his crotch.
His face instantly felt warm. If all Niagara Falls’ women were this straightforward, this trip was going to be awesome. “Uh…” he stammered. He didn’t know what he was supposed to follow that with.
“Stand up,” she ordered him. The cadence in her voice hinted at an accent.
His friends snickered beside him as Nathan followed her instructions. He looked around at the people on the boat. The boat itself was just now pulling away from the dock.
“There are children around,” he said pointedly.
“I know, which is why I need into the seat you were sitting on.” She stepped around him and pulled up on the bench lid. It popped open to reveal a chest full of life jackets.
Nathan closed his eyes and bit back a self-loathing moan as he realized his mistake. “Oh,” he heard himself utter before Charlie and Dylan started to bark with unrestrained laughter. Thankfully, it seemed as if Selina didn’t know what they were laughing at, but she did look just as uncomfortable about it as he felt.
The kid-sized life jacket slipped out of her hand and onto the deck of the ship. Nathan quickly bent to pick it up. “Let me help you.”
He hadn’t been as quick as she was. He was still bending over as she was standing up. Their heads met in an excruciating crack. The back of her head smacked hard against his face.
Nathan pinched the bridge of his nose together before blood ran out everywhere. Selina let out a string of what could only be French curse words, and Nathan was sure they were prettier sounding than their meanings.
Holding the back of her head, Selina finally stood up and rubbed the spot where they’d collided. “Oh my! I am so sorry.” She gasped at what he assumed was the image of him holding his head back and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Sit down.”
She closed the lid on the bench he’d been sitting on originally. He sat. She took off.
It was probably for the best. He’d made an ass of himself, and he was now nursing a bloody nose. It was a great first impression.
“I guess that’s what you get for thinking she meant she needed to get in your pants.” Charlie laughed with Dylan Miller, his other friend, the blond one.
Nathan moaned in protest. He didn’t want to deal with their ribbing right now. His brain throbbed along with his wounded pride. Before he’d head-butted her, he’d thought about asking her to come out with them later this evening. Now, what kind of beautiful woman like that would want to go out with a guy she gave a bloody nose to? He was definitely not winning any Alpha of The Year awards with this one.
He felt like such a wimp. He had a feeling the whole deck had caught the scene. He could feel their eyes on him. Then the captain came over the speakers and started to explain The Falls as mist began hitting their ponchos.
Nathan regretted now not having put his on earlier. He couldn’t tell yet if he’d made a mess of his clothes or not because his head was still tipped back and his eyes were shut tightly. Bleeding onto a rain slicker would have been a hell of a lot less messy.
“Here we go.”
He heard Selina’s soft, accented voice, and he pried one eye open to catch sight of her smile. He shut it again as he realized she was opening a tin box and digging through it to find first aid supplies she could use on him. “Let’s fix you up, eh?”
She began by brushing his hand away. “There’s some water in the cooler at the back of the boat,” she said to the snickering Dylan and Charlie, which caused their laughter to subside.
Nathan peeled his eyes open again and watched her jerk her head in that direction. “Go get him some.”
Both the guys must have realized she meant business, so they headed off the open deck to the enclosed structure at the rear of the boat. She watched them walk away as she held some gauze up to Nathan’s nose.
“Some friends, eh? Laugh when you get hurt?”
He found the sound of her voice so fascinating he didn’t want her to quit talking. “I’d probably laugh too if I were standing where they are.”
“Honesty.” She moved the gauze away from his nose to look at his face. “Refreshing.” She inched closer to him to get a better look at his injury.
Although Nathan’s brain knew that her incredibly close proximity was completely innocent, his heart pounded loudly in his ears. She was so close, and the tilt of her head was inviting. It left her neck stretching, open and available. Her skin would be soft, he was sure of it. She smelled sweet and delicate, like clean laundry and flowers.
He watched the slow smile spread across her face. “Well, Nathan, I don’t think it’s broken.”
Nathan didn’t want her pulling away yet, and he didn’t want her soft fingers to stop touching his face. “I think it is.” His response came too quickly.
Selina grinned down at him as she ran her finger over the impossibly straight bridge of his nose. The action was to determine if there was a break in it, but the brush of her finger against his skin ignited a slow, crawling fire to spread throughout his whole body.
Nathan watched her eyes follow her finger. The Falls were so loud they matched the pounding heartbeat in his ears. A heavy mist splattered their skin and their clothes, cloaking them in a strange, magical intimacy.
“I think you’re going to be just fine,” Selina managed to say over the hum of The Falls. As she pulled the gauze away, she noticed that he had stopped bleeding.
“What’s going on over here?” Her manager, Sheila Ridgegate, came across the wet deck. She was barrel-chested and had her graying, brown hair cut short and tight to her head. If there had ever been a time when she was attractive, it was impossible to imagine now. Selina might have been able to appreciate something in her if she wasn’t such a nasty, conniving, demon of a boss.
Selina was glad that they rarely worked the same shifts. She preferred to work under Pat Guster; he was a short, round, black man with a peppering of silver in his hair and goatee. He was relaxed and gave Selina lots of space. Whereas Sheila hovered and wrote Selina up for every infraction she could find, even if she had to dig for one.
Selina felt herself stiffen with the presence of this woman before them. She realized she was about to get in trouble for something. While the bloody nose may have been her fault, it was nowhere near intentional. All Selina had been trying to do was her job.
“It was my mistake.” Nathan spoke up, which startled Selina. She caught his gaze with her surprised, brown eyes.
“Do we need him to file an accident report?”
Selina’s hand was full of wadded-up, bloody gauze. The large woman gave Nathan a once-over, debating about what to do.
“It’s just a nose bleed.” Nathan laughed it off. “Really, I’m fine.” Sheila still didn’t look appeased. “Selina came over here…”
Selina’s head nearly spun around in shock. She hadn’t realized this dark-haired, green-eyed stranger knew her name. “She needed these life jackets for one of the kids over there, and I got a nose bleed.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. “She saved me.” Nathan grinned in a most charming way.
“Is that what happened, Miss LeClézio?” Selina looked between Nathan and Sheila, trying to decide if she should lie or not. Sheila widened her eyes expectantly, and the delicious stranger gave her a slow, confident, reassuring nod. Selina found herself nodding in agreement.
Sheila eyed her incredulously but bent at the waist. Her stomach folded in half by the straining waist line of her pants. She picked up one life jacket, took the other from Selina’s hand, and walked across the deck to take it to the parents of the kids Selina had motioned to.
“Take care of him, I’ll take care of them.” Sheila walked away, leaving Selina alone with Nathan once more.
“You didn’t have to lie.” Cute and noble too.
“You seemed distressed.”
“I could have handled it.” She smiled because she liked that she hadn’t needed to.
Just then his friends reappeared with two water bottles. She took the one the shorter of the two offered her, dumped some water onto some fresh gauze, and began to clean up Nathan’s nose.
“I believe it.” Nathan nodded, his face stoic and serious. “But now you don’t have to.” She was a proud woman, but this man was so cute and such a smooth talker that he had her smiling.
“What brings you to The Falls?” She was stalling now. He was pretty well cleaned up, but she didn’t want to pull away just yet.
“Charlie here’s obsessed with Ripley’s.” The cute blond motioned to his friend.
“I’m convinced this is the greatest place on earth, at least the greatest vacation I’ve ever had. Well, except that Dylan can be a real buzzkill.” Charlie ribbed his friend back. Then, in a stage whisper, said, “He hates Ripley’s.”
“I don’t hate it,” Dylan said, first to Charlie and then repeated it back to Selina. “I just don’t like watching the same exact show a million times over again.”
“Ah.” Selina nodded and looked down to realize she couldn’t keep touching Nathan’s face, and yet she was still reluctant to pull away. “There.” She handed him the half-empty bottle of water. “All good.”
“Thanks.” Nathan took the bottle from her, their fingers brushing. “This is sort of our last hurrah. Dylan and I just completed our last semester, and Charlie here has only one more to go. We decided we needed some kind of celebration. This is it.”
“Just the three of you? The rest of the house didn’t want to come?” Selina pointed at the Greek letters emblazoned on the front of his hoodie.
A slow, sexy smirk crept across his face. “Yeah, just the three of us. It’s a long story.”
Selina opened her mouth to say she’d love to hear it sometime, but she stopped herself. Flirting with him was absurd. He was only here visiting. So she closed her mouth and smiled at him and then at his two friends. She couldn’t think of anything else she could stall with. She waited for a long, quiet, drawn out second, for what—she didn’t know.
He eventually nodded and smiled back at her. “Thank you again.”
“It was nothing.” Selina walked away, taking the bloody gauze with her to throw out. She headed to the staff bathroom, which was about the size of a closet, to clean up in. She had quite the knot on the back of her head, and once she was alone with clean hands, she began to laugh to herself and at her circumstances thus far today.
Her laughter subsided when she thought about the missed opportunities with that man. They had a significant amount of chemistry. Being under his gaze had made her skin feel hot and tender, like a sunburn.
She looked up and met her face in the mirror. She didn’t look different, but she felt different. It’d been a while since she’d met a man who made her nervous, and she didn’t understand why Nathan did. He seemed friendly. He had a nice, open face, one that didn’t seem capable of hiding anything malicious. He was tall, tan, and handsome. There was something about those bright-green eyes that almost didn’t fit his face. They made her feel a little edgy.
But he would be long gone soon; she had to remind herself of that. He was obviously just visiting, and Niagara was big. She would probably never run into him again. Just as well. With a shake of her head, she cleared his face and those green eyes from her mind.
By the time she was out of the bathroom, the boat had docked and people had already started to leave. Selina unconsciously checked the bench seat. The three college kids who had taken up residence there were gone. Selina let the air fall out of her lungs in a deep sigh. She knew he couldn’t stay there forever, but she’d never known a boat ride to take so little time before.
She grabbed her squeegee and began to run it along the floor, pushing the accumulated water off the deck.
“Forget it.” Dylan slapped a hand on Nathan’s shoulder as he looked down behind him, hoping to catch one last glimpse of her. “She was out of your league.”
“I think you should go back down there and ask her to come out with us tonight,” Charlie countered.
Nathan’s stomach swarmed with butterflies so intense it nearly doubled him over. He couldn’t imagine taking one more step away from this boat without at least giving it a try.
“Charlie, that’d be dumb. She’s just going to turn him down.” Dylan gave Charlie a playful shove on the shoulder.
“Maybe she won’t.” He shrugged.
The two of them kept arguing and walking, but Nathan stood in place. He then turned around and jogged back down the incline before Dylan or Charlie knew that he was gone.
“Nathan?” Dylan hollered down to him.
Nathan spun, jogging backward expertly. “I’ll be right back,” he shouted up to his friends. “It’ll take one minute.” He held a finger up in the air. Nathan was out of breath by the time he got back to the boat, but it wasn’t from the run. It was sheer exhilaration.
Selina looked up, apparently startled to see him again. He was mildly panting from the jog back down to her, and her eyes drifted to his chest and back up to his face. Selina eventually stood from her slouched sweeping stance and just stared back at him.
“Did you forget something?” she finally asked. A smirk appeared on those beautiful, shapely, pink lips. He hated to admit it, but something about that smile alone had his heart doing flip-flops in his chest.
“Kind of.” He laughed and stepped back on board the boat to stand in front of her. “Yes.”
Selina glanced around the deck she’d been cleaning. Obviously her eyes were scanning the boat in search of whatever it could be that he’d left behind.
“Selina.” He hated how breathless her name sounded on his lips.
She looked back to him, and he could have sworn she blushed. “Yes?”
“Come out with me tonight.”
Selina hesitated. He didn’t blame her. He was, by all definitions, a complete stranger. Except that she didn’t feel like a stranger to him.
“I don’t know.” She nibbled on her bottom lip and tipped her head back. She eyed him in a way that made it very clear to him that he was being sized up.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Nathan hedged.
She took her time answering but eventually shook her head no.
Nathan could feel the wicked smile spreading across his face. He tried to contain it because it must have looked goofy as hell, but he’d just received the best news he’d gotten in a while. Good.
“I’m not in town very long, but we’re going to The Bulls Den tonight if you want to meet us there.” He ran a slightly sheepish hand through the dark brown locks of his hair.
“I don’t know what I’m doing tonight yet.”
Nathan felt his brow quirk. Was she playing with him? Or was she always this coy? Was this her playing hard to get? Why was his easy charm powerless when it came to her? Was it wrong that it only made him want her more?
“Right. Well, what time are you off?”
She gave Nathan a knowing smirk. “Eight o’clock.”
Nathan checked the time on his watch. “Perfect.” Although he didn’t quite know how perfect it was. Eight was a long way off.
“My friend, Charlie, he’s been dying to go to Ripley’s.”
Selina smiled in understanding. “Right.”
“So…maybe I’ll see you tonight, then?” He waited for the slow nod of Selina’s head to come before he started to walk away. He turned around on an afterthought to ask, “Do you like The Bulls Den?”
“Love it,” she responded with a wide smile. She tried to restrain it, though, with a bite to her bottom lip.
His eyes drifted there briefly. He hoped before this trip was over he’d have the chance to taste that mouth. Hell, he hoped it happened before the night was over. He smiled then too before turning back around and walking away.
Selina couldn’t help herself. She watched him go. He had nice, broad shoulders that tapered to a trim waist. He looked solid. She could tell this because every once in a while the wind would ripple his damp sweatshirt against him, outlining the strong, muscular lines of his back. Even under the mildly baggy material of his jeans, she could tell he had a great ass.
Nathan turned back around just then and caught her staring at him as he walked away. “See you after eight,” he reminded her, and she gave him a quick wave. He continued to walk back up to where his friends were.
He was halfway there when he turned around, and in a mildly desperate fashion, he hollered back down to her again. “Come on, just say you’ll be there?”
His enthusiasm was contagious, though, and yeah, maybe screaming down the hill to beg her to agree to a date was a little desperate, but it was also kind of strangely romantic. So much so that she could feel her cheeks getting warm.
Glancing around, Selina made sure he wasn’t making too big of a scene, at least not one large enough to attract Sheila’s attention.
She nodded at him, afraid to speak just then in case her voice didn’t come off as cool and aloof as she hoped it would. She didn’t want the excitement to seep out into her words. She did her best to swallow it and then eventually attempted to speak through it.
“Okay, oui. I’ll see you. The Bulls Den. After eight.”
With a satisfied smile, Nathan turned back around and continued the jog back up to his friends.
The rest of the afternoon, Selina went about her job. It was just an ordinary day, except she couldn’t quit replaying their exchanges in her mind. She’d sometimes catch herself staring off with a dorky, broad smile on her face. She kept trying to shake him off, but he was there in the back of her mind all day.
He was a tourist. Tourists didn’t stick. This was fine by her because she didn’t want him to stick. She did, though, want to have a good time with him while he was around. Nathan looked like he could be a real good time.
The day dragged on, and when eight finally rolled around, Selina headed home to get cleaned up and changed. Walking through the front door, she was stopped by Angeline, who looked to be on her way out, looking fresh and pretty. Selina vaguely remembered hearing her say something about a date earlier in the week.
“How was your day, love?” Angeline opened the shoe closet in the entryway. She squatted, obviously digging for a specific pair of shoes.
“I don’t know yet.” Selina let out a sigh that had Angeline looking up with a worried expression.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Selina slowly climbed the stairs, turning at the landing to look down at Angeline. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“All right?” Angeline seemed concerned about her sister and was just about to follow her upstairs when a car honked outside. “That’s me. Au revoir!” She slid on her shoes.
“Who is honking?” Selina became defensive. Her sister was already half out of the front door.
“My date.” Angeline peeked around the closing door. “I have to go, we’ll talk later.”
Selina shot her sister a look that was full of warning and concern. She did not approve of anyone honking for her sister. It was unacceptable behavior, and she knew that Angeline wouldn’t approve if it had been the other way around.
“I know.” Angeline sent her a sad smile.
Selina knew that Angeline hadn’t had many boyfriends, and the ones she did have were barely men enough to be considered as such. Selina didn’t think that was reason enough to quit being picky. Angeline was beautiful, smart, and courageous. Men looked, but she was often too focused on something else to notice them. Selina was happy she was going on a date, but she thought her sister should be holding out for a gentleman; a man who could, at the very least, walk up to the door and take her out properly.
“No, get back in here and make him come to the door.” Selina snapped her fingers and pointed as she came down a few steps.
Angeline looked over her shoulder at the waiting car and then back at her sister. “I can’t, Selina, I’m already outside.” She laughed nervously.
“I don’t care. Get back in here, or I’m going to come out there and give him the old one-two.” She slapped the back of her hand into the palm of her other hand.
“I’m just going to go. We’ll talk later,” Angeline promised, backing out of the door again and grabbing her keys from the white-wicker entryway table.
“Why bother, Angeline, he’s obviously not the one.”
At Selina’s persistence, Angeline gave her sister a pleading look to drop the matter. Selina did not want to, and she wasn’t happy about it, but she dropped it and waved her sister off.
“Je t'aime.” Angeline smiled graciously at her sister before bowing out the door.
Selina hustled upstairs, took a quick shower, and hastily changed her hair into a cute, low and to the side, messy bun. Curling tendrils spilled from her hair tie. She jumped into a pair of faded blue jeans that sat low on her hips and hugged her perfectly. She slid on a sexy, green, lace top with cap sleeves and a completely revealing corseted back.
A beaded and crystal necklace with a pendant of a casting of the Eiffel tower dangled over her modest breasts, nearly to her navel. It was one of her most treasured pieces of jewelry. She wrapped a braided leather belt around her waist and let it hang loosely. The fringe hung down her leg on one side, making her appear taller and accentuating the soft curve of her hip.
She glanced at the sitting pendulum clock on her dresser and realized it was nearly an hour later than she’d figured on meeting him. She hurriedly took the stairs two at a time. Reaching the bottom step, she pulled on a pair of scruffy, brown leather boots that had been her sister’s when they were teenagers. Selina took one last look at herself in the entryway mirror, and she was finally out the door.
— • —
“Nate, look at all these girls in here.” Dylan stood there allowing some blonde girl, who had a few too many shots of Cuervo in her, to hang all over him. “They’re hot, they’re drunk, and they’re riding a bull for Christ’s sake.” Dylan pointed across the dance floor to the giant bucking, mechanical bull.
Girls had been flocking to it for hours. Nate checked his watch again; it had been hours.
“Seriously, stop it.” Charlie slapped Nathan’s hand. The Bulls Den bragged of an extensive beer list from “local breweries,” some in Canada and some across The Falls in New York.
Charlie had been hitting it hard and fast, alternating between Genesee, Buffalo Kolsch 716, and something called Doggy Style. The last one had a pretty sick-looking label. He’d pounded one right after another. He seemed pretty sloshed from the first whiff he took coming into the bar. “There has got to be sixty girls to one dude in here!” Charlie exaggerated, having only come back to the table for another glug or two from his beer before he followed another alcohol-enhanced beauty out onto the lively dance floor.
“Yeah, dude, seriously, she’s not going to come.” Dylan looked down at the girl draped all over him. “Annie, do you have any friends here?” She didn’t stop nuzzling his neck; she just pointed toward the mechanical bull.
“She said she’d be here.” Nathan tried his best to not start believing what these guys were saying.
“She’s not coming,” Dylan said again, this time more tenaciously. “Time to move on with one of these other women.”
“Who isn’t coming?” Nathan felt a warm hand on his shoulder and an unmistakable lilting voice behind him. He just smiled at her, and she looked from Nathan to Dylan, who put his hands up in admitted defeat.
“Babe?” Dylan spoke to the vampire at his throat. She pulled her face away to look at him. “Let’s get you in line for that bull.” He dragged her away from the table.
Selina hopped onto one of the tall stools, putting her at almost eye level with Nathan.
“I thought you were going to stand me up,” he admitted, leaning in and speaking close to her ear so she could more easily hear him over the loud clamor of the bar, the music, and the squealing that came from a redheaded girl riding the mechanical bull.
“Oh, ye of little faith.”
Nathan laughed and then so did she. Even her laugh was sexy—he never would have thought a laugh could be sexy, but hers was. He hoped to hear more of it.
“What are you drinking?” she asked as the waitress approached.
“Uh, not much of anything yet.” He hadn’t wanted to be drunk when she got here. He’d been a mess of nerves waiting for her. He’d never been so clumsy and awkward around a woman in all his life. He’d never been so concerned with being stood up before, either.
“Can I get you something?” The blonde, frizzy-haired waitress pulled a red notebook from her apron.
“Pitcher of the white peach sangria.” Selina then looked to Nathan, who just shrugged. “And some chips and salsa.” Selina motioned to their table.
The waitress pulled her notepad out but hadn’t written any of it down.
“Sure thing.” She winked at the both of them before she moved on to the next table.
“You are in for a taste of the best chips and salsa in all of Canada,” Selina raved to him with a smile.
“In all of Canada?” He laughed at her embellishment.
“You think I joke, but I am serious. They make their own chips. They come out warm. The salsa gets made daily. It’s delicious.”
He believed her.
The pitcher came with frosted wine goblets. Nathan had never seen that done before. Their drink was unquestionably girly with balls of fruit floating in the pitcher.
“What are we drinking?” Nathan leaned in to ask as she poured them each a glass.
“Sangria.” She looked up, and he found himself staring into her hauntingly dark eyes. “This kind is white wine, peach schnapps, and fruit juice.” She handed him his glass.
Nathan clinked his against hers. “Cheers.”
“À la vôtre.”
They clinked their glasses together again as Nathan attempted to repeat Selina’s French version. She laughed at his weak attempt, and Nate blushed. In an effort to conceal it, Nathan took a sip of the drink Selina had ordered for them. He was pleasantly surprised. It was sweet and tangy. Nathan actually thought it was delicious. He was a little jealous that he wouldn’t feel comfortable ordering this himself at a bar.
Nathan caught her gaze and nodded slowly. “I do.” He maintained their eye contact through another sip.
“It’s sexy, no?” She took another sip of her drink, and he watched her closely. He realized just then that she was even more beautiful now than he remembered her being earlier. He wouldn’t have thought it possible.
“Very.” Nathan’s voice had fallen a few octaves. He found himself looking at her in an unabashedly hungry way.
Selina responded by biting her lip and turning her head away from him.
“Here you go.” The waitress came back, setting a stack of tiny bowls down with the basket of freshly made chips and a small pitcher of salsa.
“Thank you.” Selina smiled and grabbed two tiny bowls from the stack and poured her and Nathan each their own bowl of salsa. “Here. Try this.” She slid the bowl toward him. “So good.”
Nathan watched Selina scoop some salsa on a chip and hold it out for him. He leaned forward, opened his mouth, and took a bite. It crumbled from her hand, and some of the salsa spilled onto his lip. He chewed what was in his mouth, but he couldn’t concentrate on the taste because Selina was wiping the spilled salsa from his chin and lip with her thumb. She brought to her mouth what she’d caught from his lip. Selina licked the salsa from her thumb, closing her eyes on a small moan. Nathan tried not to look too surprised, but everything this woman did turned him on.
Selina opened her eyes to find him slowly chewing. She shrugged while she took a sip of her sangria, eyeing him over the rim of the glass. “Too good to waste on a chin spill.”
Nathan swallowed before he let out a laugh. His head spun with this one. One second she seemed reluctant and reserved, and then the next she was saying their drinks were sexy and licking salsa from his chin. Nathan didn’t usually mess with confusing, complex women, but Selina seemed worth it. Besides that, he was completely intrigued by her and incredibly turned on.
He looked down at Selina, whose shoulders were exposed by a wide neckline that dipped to a low scoop-front. The back of her shirt was completely open except for the lacing of the corset. Her jeans hugged tightly to her thighs. Inches of her skin all over her body played peek-a-boo with his eyes. She was beautiful, outspoken, and brazen, and he wanted to get his hands on her.
“Dance with me.” He motioned with a nod of his head toward the dance floor. He didn’t usually do this, but he was desperate to get closer to her, and dancing was the perfect excuse to do so.
“All right.” She finished her glass quickly and so did he before she allowed him to pull her out onto the floor. They passed Charlie and his dance partner as they were headed back to the table. Charlie had been stopping to chat, but Nathan reached out and patted him on the shoulder and just kept dragging Selina farther out onto the crowded dance floor.
The D.J. had been playing soulful R&B with a great bass line. It wasn’t slow enough to slow-dance to, but it was perfect for holding onto one another and taking slow, long dips with your hips. That’s how the other people were dancing. As for Nathan and Selina, they weren’t even touching each other. The other girls all moved in the same way. They all popped their bodies to the beat of the song, but Selina’s arms found their way above her head. Her hips swayed side-to-side.
He realized, watching Selina dance, that he’d never truly understood it until then. The other women who Nathan had thought were dancing were just going through the motions. Now, watching Selina move like she was, he understood dancing wasn’t just swaying in step or grinding your hips with the beat, but it was exactly what Selina was doing. It was obvious she was feeling it with her soul. Nathan wasn’t the only one who had noticed. Lots of other people’s heads had turned to watch Selina move. He couldn’t blame them; he was swept up in it too. Nathan wasn’t even shuffling his feet to and fro any more.
If Selina noticed that she’d drawn attention to herself, she didn’t react to it. She was a mystery to him. She seemed complicated in the greatest fashion. She was beautiful, bright, and sexy. She was lithe, and her movements were sleek and circuitous. She was like a sexy, French-speaking panther of a woman. Every layer that he pulled away from her, instead of bringing her into focus, just left him even more mystified.
The dance floor was crowded. A drunk woman toppled, and before recapturing her balance, fell against Nathan’s back. The contact forced him into Selina.
She welcomed his chest against her back. The arms that had been dancing in the air above her head fell behind her to land on either side of his face. Her fingertips brushed against his ears before they dropped and ran down his arms. Her hands found his, and she picked his up and placed them at her waist.
It didn’t take long for them to find a rhythm that was theirs. Nathan’s nose nuzzled just below Selina’s ear. He breathed her in, smelling the intimate scent of her flesh there. Selina embedded her fingers into his, forcing his palms to run over her hips and her belly. She led his hands to the tiny gap of hot, smooth skin left exposed between her pants and her shirt.
The way she moved against him, and the way he moved against her, had created a slow, burning ache inside him. The scent of her drove a heady rush to his brain. It felt a little like being drunk, but on her—not on the sangria. She guided his hands over the slight curves of her body, bringing them just under the rise of her breasts and then down again over her jeans.
The smooth circling of her hips against his had him feeling his arousal in every part of him. His hands itched to go farther. Instead of just sliding over the itching fabric of her shirt, he wanted to be going up and under it. Instead of his hands riding over the faded denim of her pants, he wished they were sliding beneath her waistband.
Nathan let a slow moan slip from his lips and land against the smooth, honeyed skin of her neck. He figured the club to be loud enough that he could get away with it.