Billionaire on the Loose (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #5)(10)


by Jessica Clare

“Oh, they’re just friends.” She waved a hand in the air. “They’re harmless. We go way back.”

“While you were changing, they asked me what my intentions were and told me not to hurt you.”

Okay, that was weird. “Your intentions?”

He pulled her against him, and a kid on a skateboard gave her an ugly look as he moved past. “Yes. I told them I intended to act quite honorable to you.”

“Oh, that’s a shame,” she blurted. Honorable wasn’t where her thoughts kept heading.

Loch looked down at her, astonished, and then laughed. “You’re full of surprises.”

“Am I?” Here she just thought her mouth ran away with her.

“Indeed.” His arm remained around her shoulders, and she decided she rather liked that. It felt cozy. Almost like a date. “Where are we going now?”

“Are you hungry? I know a great pub a few blocks over.” They had LAN parties every Saturday night, so she frequented the place and knew all the guys there. “Makes a great burger.”

He brightened. “Think they’ll have a match on?”

“A what?”

“Sports?”

“If we ask nice, maybe?”

He chuckled. “Then let us go ask nice, shall we?”

Flustered at his attention, Taylor let him open the door for her and when they walked in, she was immediately enveloped in the homey atmosphere of the place. A lot of Manhattan restaurants were upscale, but Pub Life was more shabby than chic. The booths were worn, the barstools even more so, and the floorboards creaked when you walked in. The entire place smelled like chili fries, and off to one side she could see the waitstaff lining up tables for the LAN party later that night. She’d be missing the party, it seemed, and it was just one of many lately that she’d been unable to attend. She couldn’t find it in herself to care, because she was keeping company with a dude who rivaled a demigod and whose dimples made her knees weak and her panties wet.

And it was rare for a guy to get Taylor’s panties wet.

She waved at a passing waiter. “Hey, Doug. Can we get my usual?”

“Tay Tay!” He flung his arms wide and hugged her, dragging her away from Loch’s embrace. “My little Tay Tay in the wind! I haven’t seen you in forever! Are you avoiding us on Saturday nights?”

“Just busy,” she mumbled, prying herself out of Doug’s exuberant grip. “Work and stuff.”

“Mmmhmm.” He bustled over to the back booth and cleaned off a few old glasses and gave the table a swipe with a rag. “Well, don’t be a stranger, sweetie. Sit your ass down. You going to the LAN party tonight?”

She gave Doug an awkward smile. “Not tonight! I have a friend with me and he doesn’t do computers.”

Doug pretended to clutch his chest. “How on earth did you meet our little Tay, then?”

“Mutual friend,” Loch said easily. He pointed at a TV over the bar, currently set to the news. “Get any sports on that?”

“I’ll see what we can do.” He winked at them and then wandered off.

“Another friend?” Loch asked mildly as Taylor slid into the booth.

“Just a friend. His boyfriend is in my guild.”

“Ah. And what’s a guild again?” Loch sat down across from her.

Taylor tried not to look too aggrieved. “You seriously don’t know anything about MMOs?”

“’Fraid not. I’m not big into computers.” He folded his hands on the table and leaned in. “How come you hide here in the back and don’t sit at the bar?”

She winced. “I used to, but I get distracted and fall off the stool. Now they try to save a booth for me if they know I’m coming in.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Because you rescued me from when I locked myself into a bathroom earlier?” She tucked her hands in her lap and tried not to fidget. God, he sure was pretty when he laughed like that. And it didn’t feel like he was laughing at her, but along with her. That was nice. Most hot guys just sort of sneered in her direction.

“That might be it.” Loch grinned at her. “Can I ask why you’re so clumsy? Is it a medical thing?”

“It’s a distraction thing,” Taylor admitted. She leaned forward and put her chin on her fists. So she was staring at the guy. So what. She could do that, right? He was too pretty not to stare. “I sort of lose track of what I’m doing sometimes and then boom, there goes all bodily function.”

His mouth crooked up in amusement. “You must really lose yourself in the moment.”

“Oh, yeah,” she breathed. “I sort of focus in”—she pointed at her eyes—“and wham, everything else fades away.” The look he was giving was more speculative and a bit more sexy than she was used to. Was he trying to turn her statement about focus into something dirty? She squirmed in her seat. “I’m sure it happens to everyone.”

“Not quite the same,” Loch said, and then the TV over the bar turned to a sports channel. Soccer. He gave a thumbs-up to the bartender, and a moment later Doug came to get their orders. They both got a burger, and Loch got a Guinness, which made her wrinkle her nose. She stuck to craft beer. The drinks arrived first, and she took a swig of her pale ale. Delicious.

“So do you have a boyfriend, Taylor?” Loch asked as he sipped his beer.

Oh, mercy. The look he was giving her wasn’t tour-guidey in the slightest. It was down to fuck—DTF. Hoo, boy. And she wasn’t the type to have flings or hookups.

Well, except for the one time at the Excelsior convention, but she didn’t like to talk about that.

But Loch? God, Loch was eminently hook-up-able. She could see herself climbing him like a set of monkey bars and having no regrets. Sure, he’d never call her again, but would she even care? He was hot, he was European, and she’d only see him again at Gretchen’s wedding in about six months. Taylor licked her lips. “No boyfriend.”

As if to remind her of her commitments, her phone buzzed in her pocket. Ugh. Sigmund.

“Just guy friends. I’m not dating anyone, though.”

“Not even the chap online?” He took a healthy swig of his beer and watched her with hooded eyes.

“Never met him, and he’s just a guy that has trouble taking no for an answer.” She locked her fingers around her bottle of beer, clasping it tight.