I flutter my eyelashes. “Gosh, I don’t know, can I?” Unbelievable. Two minutes behind a bar and I’ve already turned into my überflirtatious sister. If she knew I was behind a bar with my stomach showing, the way she used to do for money, she’d raise unholy hell. Forcing a serious expression onto my face, I nod. “I mean, yeah, I can manage.”
“Good.” He watches me a moment before turning to take another order.
In the beginning, Shane has to point out where certain bottled beers are located or switch places with me when customers order something more complicated than beer. But we quickly fall into a rhythm. It’s a totally new experience…and I like it. Being able to remain detached while still feeling involved in several different conversations at once. Some funny, some sad. Some of the discussions are even about Shane, whispers about his achievements on the circuit. Speculation about whether or not he’ll go back.
I find myself avoiding those conversations.
I’m dying to race upstairs and grab my camera, but I’m sure Shane would just love me photographing his customers when I’m supposed to be helping. I put the urge aside and focus on serving drinks. The music grows steadily louder, forcing me to strain to hear each order.
I’m leaning across the bar doing just that, when I feel Shane brush behind me. His hand squeezes my hip a little before moving on. I have to ask the customer to repeat himself. Twice. We make eye contact as I’m pouring Guinness, and I feel it everywhere. It’s like he’s trying to communicate something with his unsmiling stare, and although I can’t put a name to the message, my body seems to understand. It wants Shane. I can freely admit that at this point.
I start to feel a little breathless, and a lot anxious. It originates in my belly and spreads lower. In these jeans, I feel sexy, a rarity for me. Every time Shane and I pass each other behind the bar, we touch, and the eagerness sprouts wings. Sometimes it’s just the backs of our hands sliding together, but it escalates quickly to my bottom slipping against his lap, his fingertips brushing across my collarbone. None of the customers are sober enough to pay us any attention. I’m still aware of their presence because I’m serving them drinks, but when I’m talking to them, I’m thinking of Shane and where he’s standing in relation to me.
Finally, the crowd begins to thin slightly, and Patrick is able to struggle his way between two customers. I return his jaunty smile, knowing that I’m flushed head to toe. I pray that if he notices, he’ll chalk it up to me exerting myself behind the bar. “Tell me, Willa. Is there anything you can’t do?” he shouts over the noise, sending me a wink.
I nod at the guitar he’s holding against his chest like a precious child. “I can’t play guitar.”
His eyebrows raise, voice dipping slightly. “You know, I’m an excellent teacher.”
With a laugh, I start to respond, when I feel Shane move behind me. It feels like crackling energy racing over my skin. As if I’d been caught doing something wrong, I move back from Patrick…which puts my back hard against Shane’s chest. I wait for him to move and he doesn’t. Instead, he drags his fingers across my exposed stomach slowly. I don’t even have to turn around to know he’s staring at Patrick as he does it. It’s written all over Patrick’s face. This is Shane telling him to back off, that I’m somehow…his?
I should turn around and scratch his eyeballs out. Put him back in his place right in front of everyone, then light him on fire. This jealous, possessive, bullshit shouldn’t be heating me up. It shouldn’t make me want to turn my head and request he take me somewhere private, where he can move his hand lower. Higher. Where he can put them everywhere. I’m so distracted by these thoughts, that I barely notice when Patrick salutes me and disappears back into the crowd.
“We might have agreed there wouldn’t be any commitments between us.” His lips brush my ear. “But as long as we’re both in Dublin, there will be no sharing.”
I fight another surge of intense heat and focus on my irritation. “Don’t talk about me like I’m a f**king ham sandwich. I decide—”
“When you wrapped your legs around me and stuck your tongue in my mouth this morning, you decided.”
“If I’d known it would turn you into a caveman, I wouldn’t have done it.”
His chest vibrates against my back with a growl, but we’re interrupted when a flustered Orla trips her way behind the bar. When she sees us standing so close, her eyebrows raise with interest, but she doesn’t comment. “Sorry I’m late?” she says, her apology sounding more like a question.
Swallowing the rest of the retort I’d worked up for Shane, I push away from him. With a mumbled greeting in Orla’s direction, I stomp out from behind the bar, intending to climb the stairs to my room. I need a way to relieve this pent-up sexual frustration. It’s been building for days, weeks, and I feel ready to explode. Shane barks a command for Orla to cover the bar and I sense him following me. His words from that night in the alley come back to me in a rush, making me feel fevered. Having to chase you only makes me want to pin you down.
I want him to chase me. The realization hits me hard, knocking the breath out of my lungs. Before I can clear the bar, my hand is enfolded in Shane’s larger one and I’m being pulled through a set of double doors behind the bar where I’ve never been. I don’t even know why I make a halfhearted attempt to pull away, but I do. Maybe so I can tell myself later that I tried.
Excitement is humming in my veins, something dark and demanding pooling at the tops of my thighs. Shane’s steps are purposeful, his back flexing beneath his shirt, as he leads me through another door. A stock room, I barely have time to acknowledge before he’s slamming the door closed and pressing me forward over what looks like a waist-high refrigerator. The bent over position he’s put me in is unexpected. I’d anticipated him pressing me up against the door to kiss me. The way he continues to keep me guessing, never doing what I expect, is a crazy turn-on. As if I need any more reasons to crave this guy. I resent him and want him at the same time.
His hips press against my bottom and my forehead drops forward on a soft moan. “I know you won’t tell me you want me right now. Not with words. You’re too damn stubborn.” He leans over my body, so he’s flush against my back. His voice is rough against my ear. “So tell me with your body. Give me more of what I got behind the bar when you couldn’t stop swishing your ass all over me.”
“That was your game. You started it.” I cringe when I hear the halting quality to my immature words.
“Aye. I did start it.” His mouth moves over my neck. “And I’m dying to finish it.”
Jesus, was that a whimper that just came out of me? I reach down deep, making one last attempt to stay sane. “I thought you didn’t want me in the bar for the first time.”
“I meant it, too.” He gives a quick thrust of his hips jarring me against the fridge. “I won’t f**k you tonight, no matter how badly we both need it.”
His harsh language triggers a long, torturous squeeze in my lower body. I’ve never been spoken to like that in a sexual context. I’m far from offended. It’s gritty and honest…and I want more of it. A lot more. I’m kidding myself by thinking I could ever walk away from Shane and this need he’s creating, so I give in and push my bottom up against him, savoring his groan. “What are you waiting for? Permission?”