He’d bumped into me at the Book Nook. I’d been minding my own business when we collided; the books I’d been carrying tumbled to the floor, clattering loudly. Before I could stop the gorgeous stranger, he’d begun picking them up—pausing when he caught a glimpse at the covers.
“Got a thing for shirtless . . .” He turned one in his hand so he could get a better look at the title. “Highlanders, do you? Let’s see what else you’ve got here.” He grinned as I knelt beside him, embarrassment flaming across my face.
I remember feeling like I wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole. He paid no attention as I frantically scrambled to gather the scattered novels—proceeding with his critique of my reading choices.
“Oh, this one looks fun.” He chuckled, flipping it over and reading the blurb. “It says here they both have a burning desire for each other . . . one they desperately try denying.” He glanced at the seductive pose the male model stood in, his muscles bulging. “Let me guess, paranormal romance?”
I cringed at how fast he’d discerned my tastes. “Yeah, vampire,” I muttered, not sure whether to run or enjoy the way he was flirting. Somewhere beneath the blush, my stomach fluttered with nerves.
“Of course, I should have known. My sister loves reading this stuff.” He grinned and I was temporarily rendered speechless. I knew I was gaping like a fool, but he’d caught me by surprise. He reached for the next one and I moved quickly, trying to intercept him. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough.
“What do we have here . . . ?” He paused, staring at me. It was then I realized he was waiting for my name.
“Brianna. My name is Brianna.” I smiled. It wasn’t every day I talked with a man who looked like he’d stepped straight out of the stories I loved reading.
“Pleased to meet you, my name is Quinn.” He grinned and to my complete horror, began flipping through the paperback. “So, why were you trying to hide this from me?” He scanned the pages, snorting in places until he stopped, looking at me with a sparkle in his eyes. “Let’s see.” And he began reading out aloud.
I felt the blush that burned furiously across my cheeks as he added extra emphasis on certain parts—making them sound cheesy. I thought he’d read the entire chapter when he abruptly closed the book. “So you like this kind of stuff, huh?”
Something stirred within me—a confidence to fight fire with fire. “I do, but the truth be told, I prefer this story.” I looked on the floor for a different title. I knew it was cheating, but the book I grabbed was a well-loved favorite and in desperate need of replacing. My copy was at home in tatters and was falling apart from countless reading—so many times I practically had it memorized.
I quickly turned to a section that had been the source of many late night fantasies. Raising an eyebrow, back in control, I handed him the novel. “By all means,” I paused for emphasis. “Read it out loud.”
He chuckled as he took it, clearly not worried about what he would find. Goosebumps erupted over my skin as he spoke the words of the hero—my favorite scene unfolding. He must’ve skimmed ahead because he swiftly began choking, his face turning a startling shade of red. His wide-eyed expression was priceless.
I gently retrieved the book from his hands, crouching to pick up the others. He stood still, his expression flooded with desire and it stirred something deep inside me.
“Did you enjoy what you read? See anything you like?” I asked sweetly, giving what I hoped was a look of pure innocence. His Adam’s apple bobbed and I laughed, letting him off the hook. “Here’s a word of warning,” I whispered, moving in closer. “Never mess with a woman whose obsession is romance novels.”
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