Heart of the Hunter(4)

By: Chance Carter

“Goddamn, Denny, you didn’t tell me this town had girls that looked like this. I would’ve been in here for breakfast every day. What’s your name, sweetheart?”

I was almost afraid to look up to see who, or what, was sitting in front of me. Not because of the catcalling. Being a waitress anywhere, let alone a small town, gives you some pretty thick skin, not much phases me, but because I could already tell that this guy was different. I felt something, I don’t know why, but I knew he had a darkness and a power behind him that I had never come across in my life.

“I thought waitresses were supposed to be all chatty and shit? Can I at least grab a coffee off you, darling? Unless you got a beer you want to throw my way. That’d be all right, hey, Denny? A little breakfast of champions?” He patted Dennis on the back and grabbed his shoulder.

While this sounded like the usual jackass with an ego and a drinking problem that I was used to shrugging off, there was something behind his words that felt forced. It was almost as if he was playing a role. Regardless, I learned long ago not to give this behavior any more time or attention than it deserved. Just keep your head down and do your job, that’s what I told myself, and they take the hint eventually. This guy would too, if I kept my cool. I kept my eyes focused elsewhere and calmly walked to the coffee maker and poured him a cup. I could feel his eyes burning into the back of me, and I tried to shake the feeling it gave me.

I poured the coffee with my back to the counter, and whispered, just to myself, “this is all you’re getting off me, so just keep talking your big talk.”

I realized I was saying it to convince myself.

Dennis cleared his throat. “We do our drinking off the clock, Hunter, but I’ll be happy to put that coffee on my tab. You had a hell of a first week, boy. And ladies, don’t let this guy get to you. Like I said, he’s an acquired taste. And as for you, boy, let go of my shoulder. What are we using vice grips for when you’ve got those things?”

“Ah, Denny I’m only trying to get a rise out of the girls here. My apologies, sweetheart, if I offended your delicate self.”

“My name’s Kelly, not sweetheart. Here’s your coffee,” I said firmly, as I placed the coffee down, trying not to give this guy anything else to work with.

But the harder I fought, the more I felt it. That power he had over me, the feeling he gave me in the pit of my stomach, just by his mere presence. What was happening? Why was I letting him get under my skin? I hadn’t even allowed myself to look at his face yet. I slowly let my eyes rise from the cup of coffee on the counter, to see his hard chest and broad shoulders, hugged by a white tank top stained from a morning’s work. The shirt wrapped the body so tightly I could see every angle and ridge underneath, and I found myself wishing I could run my fingers over them and take them in with my touch. I snapped back to reality quickly enough to gather myself and keep my feet on the ground.

Get a hold of yourself, Kelly. What are you, fourteen?

Almost as if he sensed my new found grip on myself, the man stood up. It was as if he wanted to show me just how much his body dwarfed mine. As if he was reminding me that he could knock me off balance at any time. My eyes shot back to the countertop and it was all I could do to keep them there and not look up.

And then, a rippling, tattooed arm reached out to shake my hand. I wanted to back away from it. I could smell the mix of sweat, cigarettes, and oil that poured out of him and washed over me. I felt my knees start to shake and my stomach flutter. What was this? Was I getting sick?

“I’m only clowning you, Kelly. You’re wound pretty tight, hey?”

My glance rose further and I finally saw the man standing in front of me in all his glory. His overalls slung down covering his lower half. His stained tank top clung to abs and a chest that didn’t have one angle out of place. Intricate tattoos covered every inch of skin I could see on his arms. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and something inside me clenched. When I took his hand, it was as if he passed some sort of electric current from his body into mine. It shot through my arms and into my entire body. My head felt light and I only hoped I wasn’t blushing.

As my eyes rose again, I saw his strong jaw and the thin layer of rough hair that covered it. I knew I had to meet his eyes with mine, but part of me felt so weakened by his touch that I didn’t know if I could do it. I felt powerless. When I finally lifted my gaze, everything I was feeling seemed to explode, bringing a rush of heat that swept over my whole body. Every sense I had fired at the same time and I was motionless. His eyes were bluer than anything I had ever seen and had an intensity behind them that made my thighs quiver in anticipation. Of what, I didn’t know, but I wanted it.