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Slipperless Series (Book #1)

By´╝ÜSloan Storm

FIONA

The bartender returned with the stranger’s beer, sliding it across the bar with a gentle nudge. He’d taken a seat next to me not five minutes earlier.

“Thanks.” the man replied as he wrapped his fingers around the frost-covered mug.

“You’re welcome, sir. Anything else?”

The man raised the glass of amber-colored liquid to his lips, curling his tanned biceps into a hard ball of sinew as he did. I caught myself looking at him out of the corner of my eye, for a split second.

Unfortunately, so did he.

After taking a sip, he placed the mug back down on the bar as the bartender lingered nearby awaiting further instructions.

The man turned towards me and with a smirk asked, “So, what are you drinking?”

Mortified I’d been caught, I shrugged and mumbled a reply, “Oh um, it’s just a soda.”

He nodded and swiveled his head back towards the bartender. “Another soda for the lady.”

“No!” I yelped without thinking.

Several people at the bar stopped their conversation and looked at me as if I had third eye. Sliding into embarrassment, I cleared my throat and with a polite smile I continued, “Thank you but I’m fine. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.”

The man chuckled as he raised the glass to his mouth again. “Coulda fooled me.”

Smooth Fiona.

I thinned my lips a bit and looked away from him, returning my attention to my daily planner. Distractions aside, tomorrow was a huge day for me and I couldn’t afford to let anything take my mind off of it. Not even for someone like him.

Especially not someone like him. Or his biceps.

“What is that?” he asked, snapping me out of my self-imposed trance.

My eyes darted towards his index finger as it pointed in the direction of my wrist.

“Hmm?” I muttered, not making eye contact and hoping he’d lose interest.

“What…” he said, as he raised the volume of his voice. “Is. That?”

Placing a finer point on it, he moved his finger to my charm bracelet, which had slipped out from beneath the sleeve of my sweater. He nearly touched it, and put his digit in my line of sight so there would be no mistaking what he meant.

“Oh.” I shrugged as I tucked it beneath the sleeve. “It’s just a bracelet.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “I know that. It’s really unique. I've never seen anything like it. Does it symbolize something?”

I swallowed hard as I stole a peek at him through wisps of my blond hair. Even in the somewhat dim light of the bar, it was hard to get past his looks. Of course, I’ve already mentioned his arms… Otherwise, wavy, long brown hair sat atop a square-jawed face with eyes sparkling a brilliant shade of blue. An ever-present smirk signaled his easy grace around women. I’d been around it enough times to know.

But this time it was directed at me and not my friends.

Hypnotized by his motion, I felt my pulse quicken as his finger moved away. I leaned in close to the bar, tucked my elbows into my sides and reached for my day planner. After I’d closed myself off from him, I shook my head and muttered a reply as I tried to focus on my to-do list.

“No. It doesn’t signify anything. It’s just a piece of jewelry.”

“Hmm,” he grumbled after a few seconds of silence. “Well, that’s a lie.”

With my hands hooked around the sides of my planner, I turned my head towards him. I felt a sudden swell of indignation at his insinuation.

“Excuse me?” I said in a rising tone.

He gulped his beer for a leisurely moment or two before placing the mug back down the bar. Rivulets of water trickled down the sides of it as condensation formed on the surface of the glass.

“What?” he said as he looked back at me. “What did I say?”

“You called me a liar. That’s what.”

“No, I said you told me a lie,” he said, with that annoying smirk again. “Everyone lies. It doesn’t mean you’re a liar. Why are you so uptight anyway? Pretty girl like you…”

As soon as he said those words, I felt my neck flush. Shit. I hated when that happened. There was nothing I could do about it. Just another one of the reasons I chose to keep myself covered up most of the time. My emotions betrayed me often, so I’d learned to hide them. I turned away from him and reached for my soda.

“Nothing to say, huh?” he chided, as I snatched my beverage.

I swallowed a sip of the ice cold liquid. As the lemony-sweet sparkle tickled its way down my throat, I glanced back at him. I didn’t reply but instead looked straight ahead and placed my drink down on the bar. As I did, I noticed him shake his head in my peripheral vision before he picked up his mug.

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