He’d have to go at this an entirely different way.
Mia would give Rafe ten more minutes to act, because ten more goddamned minutes of Cole Kilbourne was all she could stomach. Unless Rafe was truly enthralled with the Baywatch babe sitting across the table from him—not exactly a surprise—he couldn’t have missed Kilbourne. She had put herself and Cole directly in his line of sight.
While Mia had arrived with a come-hell-or-high-water determination to royally fuck Rafe Savage out of her life, the moment she’d seen him, she’d had second thoughts about the out-of-her-life part. Then she’d gotten a good look at Baywatch, and her hopes for the royally-fucking part dwindled to nothing.
Now, as she cast a covert gaze their direction, she was planning more of an intervention. Because if Mia couldn’t get him into bed tonight, she was going to do her best to make sure no one else could either. Yeah, she was pissed. She had an entire year of pissed to whip out and wield against the man.
“Are you going to come to watch me play against the Kings tomorrow night?” Cole’s question drew Mia’s gaze back. His hand slid over her shoulders, his fingers toying with the skin exposed in the openings of the dress she’d designed.
Mia swiveled a little more, bumping his arm loose. She used her knee to push at his thigh, giving her another inch of space. “What makes you think I’d come to watch you play when my brother’s on the team?” she asked with matter-of-fact congeniality. “Or when I know the other twenty-three guys like family, but when I just met you?”
Cole wasn’t looking at her face. His gaze was on her breasts. Her dress was modest by club standards, but definitely sexy. She had, after all, come out tonight with a purpose.
“I thought we connected tonight,” Cole said, lifting his pretty hazel eyes to hers, his mouth quirked in that lazy little half smile all hockey players mastered somewhere around age twelve. “Thought we had a little, I don’t know, spark going.”
Mia sighed. Cole was still with her only because once he’d started talking to Mia at the bar, everyone else had seen their chance to escape. And that was fine. It fit her agenda. If it hadn’t, she wouldn’t have had any qualms about leaving him to fend for himself.
As for Cole’s motives, she was pretty sure he was sticking with her simply because he didn’t want to be alone. Despite his flirtation, she didn’t get the feeling he was really attracted to her, and Mia had experienced that lost sort of loneliness enough to recognize the look of it on his face.
He ordered a rum and Coke for himself and wine for Mia, but he was already three sheets to the wind.
She lifted her hand to his cheek, tapping it to get him to open his lids a little wider. “You know you shouldn’t be drinking so hard before a game.”
“I’m fine. Doesn’t affect me.”
“Right, I forgot,” she said with honest sincerity. She’d learned to love these idiots over the years. “You’re an invincible, granite-headed hockey player.”
Cole’s brows pulled a little. He got a confused look in his clouded eyes. “Was that meant as a cut?”
“No, honey. You’ll know when I mean something as a cut.” Her cell vibrated twice in her other hand, and Mia’s pulse jumped. But she kept her gaze on Cole and didn’t immediately look at the message. “Sports should be coming up soon. Why don’t you watch to see if they talk about you?”
Worked like a charm. His attention diverted to the television, and Mia lifted her phone to glance at the message. When she saw Rafe’s name, she had to dig her fingers into her palm to keep from pumping her fist in success.
The message read: Save me.
That was a surprise. Definitely not what she’d expected. But she stuck with her original plan and looked up and around the bar, as if she didn’t know he was sitting a few hundred feet in the other direction. Then she pressed her hand to the base of Cole’s spine—which faced Rafe—and slid it up his back.
When Cole looked at her, she smiled. “Anything good on the news?”
“Nah. Want to get out of here?”
“Nah. Keep watching. It’s not over yet.”
Her phone vibrated again. Leighton, stop groping the puck head, get your ass in the restaurant, and save me the way I saved you from the Cody Matthews fiasco at prom.
All the anger she’d been holding on to for the last year instantly softened. She didn’t know how one memory could wipe away all the hurt and frustration she’d suffered from the phone calls he hadn’t returned or her visits to DC he’d missed. But images from those rough high school years flashed in her head again now—how excited she’d been to get invited to prom when she’d only been a sophomore, and by one of the most popular seniors. How she’d told everyone Cody was taking her. How she’d worked extra jobs for neighbors, and her mom had paid the electric bill late so Mia could buy a dress.