Tiberius sat back and sipped his drink, content to observe. It was amusing to watch the females compete for Donny’s attention. They flirted openly, made lewd suggestions, and sometimes even managed to grope him when he got too close. None of them realized, apparently, that Donny was in a happy, committed relationship with Jay. Donny’s flirtatious behavior was nothing more than his natural, outgoing joie de vivre. The eager females would receive nothing more than a friendly smile and excellent service in exchange for their generous tips, for it was only Jay he sought out at the end of every shift.
Tiberius was in the process of raising the glass to his lips when a voice cut through the din and rang like a crystal bell in his head. “Thanks, but no thanks. And just so you know, I’m a cop and she’s my best friend. If you so much as hurt her feelings, I will be back here, and not for a social call, get me?”
The voice set his nerves and loins tingling. He scanned the crowd, searching for the source.
“Everyone should have such fierce friends. She is in good hands with me, I assure you.” That was from Quintus.
“She’d better be.”
Tiberius stood, his heart thundering in his chest, his mind whirring at tornadic speed. There! He spotted Quintus first, tall and dark, his head bobbing above the majority of shorter humans as he moved away. And there, where he had been, a golden-haired female swathed in blue.
As if drawn by an unseen force, he moved toward her. A fierce, possessive need washed over him. He needed to get her away from the lascivious interests of the worked-up crowd.
Never before had he had such an instant and all-consuming reaction to the mere sight of a woman, in this realm or any other. Dare he hope that his prayers had been answered?
The odds were astronomical, yet his soul cared not. Neither chance nor logic entered into the equation. If the gods had decided to bless him with a mate, then they would also ensure their paths crossed at a location and timing of their choosing. Why not here? Why not now?
He stopped only a short distance away. She was looking in the other direction.
He took a moment to rake his eyes over her. Loose waves of golden silk cascaded over curves that made his mouth water. She was smaller than he had originally thought, barely reaching his neck, even in heels.
As if sensing his presence, she turned. Big, blue-green eyes, the perfect color of an Aequorian sea, widened as her gaze rose upward. He couldn’t help feeling pleased when her skin flushed a lovely shade of pink and her lips parted slightly. With his superior senses, he could hear her heart speed up and feel the heat radiating from her body.
“Oh,” she said.
They stared at each other for a long moment, until the spell was broken when an overexuberant patron plowed into her back, pushing her forward, right into Tiberius’s waiting arms.
Energy coursed through his body, firing every nerve and lighting him up from the inside out.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, righting herself.
He wasn’t. It took every ounce of discipline he possessed not to pull her right back into his embrace.
When another surge of the crowd threatened, he placed his hand on her lower back and firmly but gently guided her out of harm’s way. “May I purchase a beverage for you?”
She blinked then shook her head slightly as if to clear it. “Thank you, but no. I was just leaving.”
Leaving? No, he couldn’t allow that. Not until he knew more about her and this inexplicable pull she seemed to have on him.
“Because I have only just found you.”
“Does that line usually work?”
“I do not know. You are the first woman to whom I have spoken those words.”
Her eyes softened, then she cleared her throat. “Oh, you’re good.”
He grinned. “Does that mean it is working?”
She laughed, the sound filling his chest with light. “Kind of, yeah. But I really was just leaving. This”—she waved her hand around her—“isn’t really for me.”
“Then perhaps you will allow me to suggest a quieter venue, one where we may talk and get to know each other. There is a small eatery just down the street. I have been told it is quite good.”
She considered him for a moment then nodded. “Yeah, okay. Why not?”
Copyright © 2017-2018 Abbie Zanders & Jessie Lane.
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