Take Me if You Dare (Entangled Brazen)(2)

By: Nina Crespo

Sexy, sophisticated…tempting.

No wonder every guy in the bar had his eye on her. The way she carried herself made a man want to find out more about her scent, her touch, the softness of her skin, and what she preferred to wear next to it—silk, lace, satin, or maybe nothing at all.

His money was on lace.

Ethan’s cock stirred in interest, and he adjusted his stance. Maybe he would reconsider calling it an early night.

A familiar laugh rose from the middle of the lounge, and he looked over at his friend, Mitch, standing at a table between a long-haired platinum blonde and a wavy-haired brunette. The blonde laughed and ran her fingers over his shaved head while the brunette on the other side rested her ample cleavage on his arm.

Ethan breathed out a chuckle.

He’d agreed to come to the bar to be Mitch’s wingman tonight, but the tipsy brunette making a grab for his crotch less than two minutes after they’d met wasn’t a part of the deal. At thirty-two, like most red-blooded males, he wasn’t averse to an invitation, but he appreciated sobriety and a small amount of subtlety. When the opportunity had come up, he’d volunteered to go to the bar and order more drinks but had sent them back with a server.

He returned his attention to the woman sitting across the deck.

Was she secretly getting off on busting the chops of every guy she turned down or did she really want to sit there alone tonight? He couldn’t stand the type who enjoyed verbally kicking a guy in the balls as a power trip, but if her thing was about not settling for less, especially considering the yahoos who’d shown up at her table, he understood. Lately, he’d grown tired of dragging ass to some tired bar, drinking the usual, and running the same usual tired lines that brought the usual to his bed.

Hell, not that he was ready to settle into a recliner or twirl around on a riding lawn mower anytime soon. He’d followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the army when he was eighteen. Nine of those twelve years he’d spent with Mitch in Special Forces, keeping pace and living to serve his country. Making the transition two years ago from full-time soldier to civilian security specialist suited him, but with the long stretches of travel, that still meant no long-term relationships. At the most, he could give a woman a few weeks or a couple of months.

Ethan ran the scenario of spending time with someone like the mystery woman through his mind. She didn’t look like the constant club and party type, which meant they would probably stay in most of the time. That was fine with him. They could kick back and watch a game or a movie. He’d even cook. As an only child and a latchkey kid, his mom had made sure he’d known how to do more than just boil water. Partly because she refused to raise a lazy son, but she also wanted to make sure he knew how to take care of himself.

His thoughts drifted back to the memory of his mom working two jobs after losing his dad. She’d focused all her time and energy on raising him. Joining the army right after high school was his gift to her so she could have more time for herself. Of course, she was proud of him, but she also worried. He hated that part. Guilt had almost burned a hole in his gut, but it lessened somewhat after she’d remarried. If something happened to him, she wouldn’t be left alone.

Personally, he could never put the woman he swore to love for the rest of his life through the grief of losing him. Life was hard enough without having someone leave you to live through that kind of pain, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself or be a little more discerning about his short-term prospects.

Ethan took a slow pull from his beer and glanced over at Mitch. Maybe he should make a play for the blonde and leave his buddy with Boozehound Betty. He brought up a visual of that plan in his mind, but the only image that made him hard was of a certain ebony-haired woman, lying naked and tangled in his sheets.

As he took another drink from his beer, he surreptitiously scanned the area, noting the location and disposition of every man in the lounge. If her plans really were to enjoy a quiet drink, she was going to end up greatly disappointed. The sharks were circling and ready to move in as soon as the current guy cut his losses.