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“Hey,” I smiled, stepping behind the bar and tying the little black apron around my waist. Dive had just opened and was completely empty aside from the day shift preparing for the lunch crowd.
Blaine turned from his task of refilling the soda dispenser and crooked a grin. I could only describe it as polite, and that fact tore me in two.
“Hey, Kami.” His deep chocolate eyes narrowed. “You change your hair?”
I twirled a lock of my honey blonde highlighted mane and shrugged. “Felt like I needed a change.” I didn’t have the guts to tell him that it was really an attempt at bribery by Angel. She knew I was a whore for spa days at the upscale salon she frequented and used my weakness to try to get me to gush about my feelings for Blaine. It didn’t fully work as she intended but I did throw her a bone: I told her I was attracted to him. It was harmless enough. Even a 90 year old deaf and blind woman would have a raging lady boner for him.
Blaine gave me the most genuine smile I had seen from him in days and I swear I felt something in my chest swell. “I like it. Makes you look…I don’t know… devastatingly sexy.”
I didn’t try to stifle the blush that I could feel heating my cheeks. I embraced it. It was the first time I had felt anything but regret in days. “Yeah?”
“Hell yeah,” he said, closing the distance between us in three long strides.
And there it was again. The smell of mint and spice and pure male. The heat that seemed to roll off his body and enfold me like a mink blanket. Those intense brown eyes that made me forget my own name and had me imagining screaming out his. Him. It was all him. Blaine somehow made me forget me. The me that wasn’t allowed to feel all these beautiful, exciting things. The me that didn’t believe in happy endings. The me that was unlovable, and in turn, could never, ever love.
“You were sexy before…unbelievably so. But the way the golden strands seem to meld with your green eyes, it just… wow. Makes it hard to look at anything or anyone else.”
I sucked in a breath of air and let it out slowly through my mouth, closing my eyes in attempt to regain some sense of composure. “Blaine…” I couldn’t say anymore. His name, occupying my tongue like his skin once did, was enough.
“I’m sorry,” he sputtered quickly, breaking me from the sweet memories of tasting him. My eyes fluttered open to him looking sheepish, rubbing the back of his neck with a tattooed hand. Shit, even that was sexy.
“I think I should explain.” He rolled the barbell in his mouth before flashing me a strained grin. “I have this habit of always saying how I feel, no matter how embarrassing it is. A long time ago, I didn’t speak my mind. I didn’t ask the right questions because I was afraid of the answers. And life shitted on me because I kept my mouth shut. So I vowed to always be brutally honest and let the chips fall where they may. I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.”
I looked away, seeking refuge from his penetrating stare. It didn’t make me uncomfortable. His words, his presence, it made me anxious. It made that pesky flutter in my stomach evolve into a full on swarm of butterflies.
“It doesn’t make me uncomfortable,” I replied, speaking my truth. For once, I didn’t let fear suppress my first instinct. “But you do make me nervous.”
“Nervous?” Blaine asked, crooking a brow.
“In a good way,” I quickly recovered. Shit. Real smooth.
Blaine chuckled, and that fascinating sound chipped at the wall around my forgotten heart. “I wasn’t aware there was a good kinda nervous. But I’ll take it. Anything to see your cheeks get pink like that. You have no idea how it makes me feel when that happens.”
Speechless. I was rendered completely speechless and my cheeks had taken on a life of their own and complied with his wishes. The smile that spread across Blaine’s lips as he took in my reddened face was undeniable and I suddenly felt completely stripped bare before him. I just wanted to cover myself and hide. But Blaine wasn’t having that. Before my nerves sent me cowering in a corner, his head dipped, placing his lips at my earlobe.
“I know you said you don’t feel anything,” he whispered. “But can you honestly say that you don’t feel this? That this heat, this attraction, is all in my head? Don’t think about it; just answer. Tell me what your heart wants to say and not what your head keeps trying to make you believe.”
I swallowed down the ‘no’ that was already reflexively building in my throat and let Blaine’s proximity push away the fear. His presence did that for me; it got me out of my own way.
“Yes, Blaine,” I rasped. “I feel it.” I did. I felt all of it. I felt all of him.