Home > The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(9)

The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(9)
Tarryn Fisher

“She’s a character,” Caleb said as the door shut behind us.

I grimaced.

Understatement.

“She’s from Texas,” I said, as if that explained her behavior and then I blushed. Why did I say that? I looked up at his face to see him half smiling at me.

It took all of my self -control not to turn around and go back to my room. In the end, pride kept my feet moving. I didn’t want him to think that I couldn’t handle myself.

We passed two cheerleaders on our way to the elevator. Their eyes grew large when they caught sight of Caleb. He nodded at them politely, but kept moving, his hand on the small of my back. I tried to scoot away, but he was pretty adept at keeping it there.

“Do you take compliments?” he asked as we stepped into the elevator and I pressed the down button before he had the chance.

“If they’re original.”

He snickered and rolled his eyes.

“Okay, okay,” he said. He was trying not to laugh at the expression on my face. “Let’s see. You can kill with a smile, you can wound with your eyes….”

“That’s not original, that’s a Billy Joel song,” I interrupted. “And what kind of compliment is that anyway?”

We were walking toward his car. His hands were now in his pockets as we strolled casually.

“I’d say that song was written for you, but if you’re going to be picky…” his voice trailed off. “Do you want the jock to compliment you or the guy who reads Great Expectations?”

“Both.” I was trying to appear like I wasn’t enjoying this little exchange but I could already feel my shoulders relaxing, and now that his hand wasn’t on my back, I could think again. We reached his car and I stood at the door with my back to him, waiting for him to unlock it.

“Whether I’m standing behind you or facing you, the view’s pretty nice,” he said.

I felt my face flush as the automatic locks clicked and he held the door open for me. I could hear the suppressed laughter in his voice so I climbed in without a word. I had never met anyone so intent on making me feel uncomfortable. He took his time walking around the car. I watched him intently. He was wearing another one of those impressively well put together outfits.

I sank into the seat and breathed in the scent of his cologne. It permeated the leather seats like skin, making it smell like he was everywhere. The smell was Christmassy, like Douglas firs and Bergamot oranges. I liked it.

“Put your seatbelt on,” he said, sliding in the driver’s seat.

I pursed my lips. No way. He was not going to order me around.

“I’m not putting it on.” The restored VW Bug that I owned didn’t even have seatbelts. One of its previous owners had cut them out. I silently chided myself for not taking my own car.

Caleb raised an eyebrow, something I was starting to notice he did quite often.

“Suit yourself,” he said shrugging. “If we come to any fast stops, I’ll just reach out my arm like this to stop you from jerking forward.” He illustrated his point by extending his arm across my chest where it came in direct contact with my B-cups.

I put my seat belt on. He didn’t even try not to smile.

“Where are we going anyway?” I asked bitterly. Hopefully, we could make this quick and I could be back to my room in time to watch Grey's Anatomy. Handsome, fictional men were so much easier to stomach than real life ones who smelled of Christmas and looked like a Calvin Klein model.

“To my favorite date spot.” He looked over at me as his hands shifted gears and I felt unwelcome warmth in my belly. I had a hand fetish. His hands were big, probably beneficial for that stupid sport he played. His were the kind of hands that made wedding rings look sexy—tan with vein lines that ran like snaking rivers to his wrist and disappeared under his sleeves.

“This isn’t a date,” I reminded him. “And, it’s really lame that you just told me you’re taking me somewhere you’ve taken other girls.”

“Right. Well next time I’ll remember to lie to you then,” he said, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

“What makes you think there will be a next time?”

“What makes you think there won’t?”

I didn’t bother looking at him I just sniffed my response and stared out the window.

Jaxson’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream was located on one of the busier streets in Dania. Its neon circus sign blinked impatiently from a nondescript shopping plaza, working overtime to attract the attention of passersby. Despite the bright lights, the cutouts where tourists place their heads on animal bodies, and the blaring organ music, I had never noticed the place.

“Oh,” I said, trying to mask my surprise. “This is interesting.”

“Are you lactose intolerant?” he asked sliding his car into a parking spot.

“Nope.”

“On a diet?”

“Not this week.”

“Great. Then you’re going to love it.” He came around to open my door, and offered me his hand as I maneuvered my way out of the car.

We entered the lobby and were immediately greeted by an elderly man with cotton candy hair. He wheezed in excitement when he saw Caleb and shuffled over to shake his hand.

“Good to see you again, Caleb,” he said in a cigarette chapped voice. He was wearing a red pinstriped jumpsuit with buttons made to look like lollypops.

It embarrassed me.

Caleb put a big hand on our host’s shoulder as he greeted him. They exchanged niceties for a few moments and then annoyingly enough, Caleb’s hand found my lower back again.

“Harlow, is my table open?”

Harlow nodded and shuffled forward. We towed along behind him, passing through the first room and taking a small walkway between the ice cream coolers until we emerged into a second, larger room. I looked around in awe as we slowly made our way to the table. The place was a smorgasbord of twenties paraphernalia. In fact, there were so many knick knacks and doodads hanging from the walls, my eyes crossed in confusion. “Caleb’s table” was rinky-dink and small, with a lopsided baby carriage hanging over it. I pursed my lips, unimpressed. Caleb turned to look at me and smiled like he could read my thoughts.

Harlow began wheezing again as he struggled to pull out my chair.

“I can get it. Thanks,” I said. He shrugged his shoulders and disappeared, leaving us alone.

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