Home > Damaged (Damaged #1)(3)

Damaged (Damaged #1)(3)
Author: H.M. Ward

He laughs and presses a hand to his chest, shocked that I’d say such a thing. “No, I didn’t do anything like that! And correct me if I’m wrong, but you were the one who came onto me first. I didn’t get here early and sabotage my own car, just so I could meet a girl I didn’t know was coming.” The way he smiles is contagious. He runs his hands through his dark hair, like he wishes he could say more, but he doesn’t. The corners of his mouth curve and he gives me a look that makes tingles crawl across my skin.

I step toward him, smiling too wide. “I did not come onto you!”

“You did. Right back in there.” He points toward the restaurant. His face is serious, all smooth features and big blue eyes. “You sat at my table and made me very uncomfortable. I haven’t had such a beautiful woman overtly hit on me like that before. It was quite embarrassing.”

My smile is making it hard for my mouth to hang open in shock. It keeps opening and then my grin snaps my lips shut. “I did not!” I know he’s teasing me, but I can’t stop. I don’t want it to stop, and I realize that I’m actually laughing.

His arms are folded over his chest. He taps a finger to his lip, as if he’s remembering. “You did. You ordered wine and just assumed that I’d put out. Really, Sidney, you’ll have to learn to control yourself a little better in the future.” He looks at me from the corner of his eye, as he glances at his car.

I know he’s baiting me, but I can’t ignore him. I can’t walk away and I don’t want to. He smiles at me with those wicked lips. It makes me want to kiss him, hard. I change tactics. I want to throw him so far off balance that he falls over. I step in front of him and look up at him from under my lashes. “Okay, you caught me. I like you. I want you. I can’t keep my hands off of you. But tell me this, beautiful man; why should I bother controlling myself when I can tell that you want me just as much?” Slowly, I step closer to him. Our bodies are a breath apart as I look up into his eyes.

Smiling, he manages to say, “You shouldn’t.” He watches me, waiting to see what I’ll do. I feel my heart pounding. His eyes drift to my lips and back to my eyes. Every inch of my body flickers to life. I want to feel his hands on me. I want his lips on my mouth. From the look in his eye, I know he wants it too.

I lean in closer, teasing him. I feel his breath on my lips. His scent fills my head and I breath him in. “Are you always this irresistible?”

“Are you always this coy? Do you just flirt, leaving your lips way too close to a man that desperately wants to kiss you?”

My hands drift to his hair as he speaks. I touch him gently and hear his breath hitch. It sends a thrill through me, making me brave. There’s little space between us. The tension is so strong that I can’t stand it another second. I lean in slowly and brush my lips to his. Beautiful Man stands there. He seems surprised. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t kiss me back. Disappointment floods me. I look down, breaking the kiss. I can’t hide how hard I’m breathing, how much he turns me on.

Rejection doesn’t look good on me. “I’m sorry,” I breathe. I’m about to turn away when I feel his fingers tilt my chin up. I look him in the eye, and see something there that I didn’t expect.

He’s smiling softly. “Don’t be. I just like to be on a first name basis with the random girls that I suck face with in swank parking lots.”

I smile. “I didn’t realize the parking lot was swank, too.”

“It is. And Miss Sidney, if you’d be so kind as to divulge your last name?”

“Who talks like that?” I laugh.

“I believe that I do.”

“Sidney Colleli.” I bit my bottom lip and look up at him.

“Peter Granz.” His voice is deep and rich. The way he says his name makes my insides melt, and the way he kisses is even better. Gently, Peter pulls my lips back to his, and he kisses me lightly. It sends a charge through my body and makes my toes curl. I lean into him, loving the way he feels. Every part of me is tingling, wanting more. The kiss is so light, so brief. When Peter pulls away, I can barely breathe.

In a breathy voice, I say, “It’s nice to meet you.”


I glance back at the restaurant, worried that my date will come through those doors at any second. Eager to leave, I glance at Peter and ask, “Would you like a ride home?”

Peter nods and says, “That’d be great.”

I grin. A girlish giggle bubbles up inside me and I swallow it whole. I’m going to be alone with a gorgeous guy in my car! I can’t feel my brain. It left my body during that kiss.

Peter follows me across the parking lot and back to my car. We both slip inside and I start the engine. I navigate my way through the parking lot and when I pull out onto the road, I ask, “Which way?”

He smiles at me sheepishly. “I don’t know. I just got here.” The smile on his face is stunning. He looks so boyish and perfect.

I laugh and glance at him. “You don’t know where you live?”

“I know where I live. I just don’t know where it is in relation to here. I just moved here.”

“Oh, how long have you been in town?”

Peter smiles sheepishly. “A few weeks, but this is my first time over here. The town is sprawling. I admit that I didn’t pay attention on the way over, and my sense of direction is less than stellar. I’ve been using the GPS in my car to get around. I start a new job tomorrow and ran out to grab something to eat. Fast food was getting old. I heard about this place and decided to try it. Then, I met you and the rest is history.” Peter has an easy way about him. He leans back into the seat and looks out the window. He points east and says, “I think I live that way.”

I can’t stop laughing. “The dump is that way. There’s nothing else over there.”

Peter’s dark brows pull together as he looks out the window and then back at me. “Are you sure? I thought the apartment looked rather nice when I left.” He leans forward and looks out the window. It’s dark. The sky is inky with the normal spattering of white stars. The only décor on the sides of the road are mesquite trees that jut up from the ground like bony fingers and brittle, dried-out, grass.

Pulling out, I ask, “What’s the name of your apartment complex?” I try to drive slowly so I won’t miss the on-ramp, if I need to hop on the highway.

“It’s called Ridgewood, or something like that. It’s across the street from the college.” Peter’s looking at me. I can feel his eyes on the side of my face. I don’t mean to, but I pull my bottom lip into my mouth again and nibble on it. The heat from his gaze makes me nervous. When he speaks, his voice is so deep that it sends ripples through me. “Keep doing that and I’m going to kiss you.”

“We’re driving,” I say, and look over at him, freeing my lip.

“I didn’t say it was smart. I just said I’d have to do it. Your lips are amazing, and when you do that it makes me want to nibble them, too.” Heat spreads across my cheeks, along with an insane smile. Peter grins at me. “How cute. You blush.”

“Shut up,” I laugh, waiting for my cherry red cheeks to go away.

“No, it’s sweet. I like it.”

He stops talking, as we pull into his parking lot. Peter lives about five minutes from the restaurant. It was probably the first thing he saw when he came into town.

“Which one?” I ask, trying to decide which way to turn. The complex is huge. Some of my friends live over here since it has a volleyball court, a club house, and a pool. Me and Millie live in the dorms and can only dream of an apartment like these.

“That way.” He points, and I drive around to the back of the complex. Peter presses his lips together into a thin line and then looks back at me. “Do you want to come inside for a cup of coffee?”

I stare at him for a moment. Damn, he’s so beautiful. I want to get to know him better, but I can’t tell what he’s asking for and it’s late. I’m not into one-night stands, and I have enough issues when it comes to guys. Besides, I want someone to be mine when we go all the way. I sound like a high school student. Or a 50’s remnant. Maybe we can go steady, too, and that would be groovy. My mind is all over the place.

Mid-freakout, I glance at him. “Is that code for sex or are we really having coffee?”

Peter laughs and feigns shock, putting his hand over his chest. “My God! Is that why all those women at Starbucks keep trying to have coffee with me?”

I slap his shoulder and shake my head. The smile on my face hasn’t faded since we got in the car. I pull into a parking spot and we both get out. I follow him to the second floor because I can’t let him think that I don’t want his coffee, not after that whole Starbucks comment. We chat about nothing and he teases me more. I tease back. It feels natural. It’s not fake and I’m not scared. I’m so sick of being alone all the time. One event set my life on a different course. I want to change it back. I want to pull out of this nose-dive and get on with things. I’m damaged goods and I know it.

Peter reaches into his pocket and fishes out his keys. I watch him as he does it. His shoulders are strong and muscular. They lead into a hard torso with a trim waist. I think about running my fingers over his stomach, and feeling my fingertips trace the taut muscles.

Peter looks back at me as he opens the door. He smiles, like he knows what I was thinking about, and says, “After you.”

I step inside his apartment and see boxes everywhere. Some are unpacked, but most have the tops torn open, as though he was looking for something before he ran out the door. “Welcome to my shabby abode.”

“It’s not shabby. And it’s so much nicer than the dump. You just need to unpack.” I glance around. There’s a couch shoved against the wall. Peter walks into a little kitchen off the living area and starts the coffee.

“Are you hungry?” he calls to me. “Did you get to eat anything? You looked pissed when you walked out. I’m guessing that you didn’t get a chance.” Peter’s standing in the doorway. I turn toward him. He noticed a lot more than I thought.

“It’s okay. The coffee’s fine.”

“Ah, coffee,” he says, and winks at me.

“Not like that! Oh my God, you’re so...” I laugh and navigate my way through the boxes to the couch.

Sticking his head out of the kitchen, he holds onto the wall and says, “So what? So lovable? So manly? So sexy? So—”

“So irritating!” Of course I don’t mean it. Every time I stop smiling, he lights me up again like a Christmas tree.

“Ah. I was hoping you were going to say ‘so sexy—totally beddable.’ I could live with that.” He winks and disappears back into the kitchen. Before I can reply, he tells me, “Well, I have some cold cuts in here. I’ll bring you a sandwich. Just give me a second.” I hear him moving around and decide not to protest. I am hungry. I didn’t get to eat anything except that wine, and wine as dinner usually isn’t a good plan.

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