Fifteen minutes later some guy brought her food to the table. He was the most beautiful server she’d ever seen in her life. Dark hair. Blue eyes. And broad, manly shoulders.
“Here you go, pretty lady. Lunch is served.”
Michelle’s face got hot when he smiled at her. He had nice teeth. She was a sucker for straight white teeth. He seemed mismatched for his job. A little too big and too mature for the position. He looked more like an NFL quarterback than a waiter.
He placed the barbecue plate she’d ordered in front of her. “You were missing a side, so I got you a dish of fried okra. It’s good, you’ll like it.”
Then he set a barbecue sandwich plate on the table opposite her. Drinks followed—a bottle of beer and a glass of iced tea too. Michelle craned her neck, scanning the restaurant for Melinda.
“The pie’s good too,” he said. He found a spot for the dessert in front of a small condiment rack at the edge of the table against the window.
“I’ll take that for you, Damien,” Melinda said and was gone with the serving tray in hand before Michelle could get any answers.
Uninvited, he parked himself in the other chair. He gulped down iced tea then unrolled the silverware from a large white napkin, which he laid across his lap.
Who was this guy?
“Do I know you from somewhere? I must, since you’ve made yourself at home.”
“I’m Damien. And there’s nowhere else for me to sit,” he said, with a smooth, subtle drawl that reminded her of the wayward drifter in one of those sultry southern movies from the ‘60s.
An easy smile slid across his face, prompting a set of dimples to pop up in his cheeks. His intense blue eyes engaged her, and she felt exposed.
She scanned the room. It was packed with corporate, medical and blue-collar types, up to their elbows in barbecue. There were no empty tables except one near the bar.
“You could sit with that guy over there,” Michelle said, pointing her fork in the direction of a young man in blue hospital scrubs tearing into a piece of fried chicken.
He reached for a bottle of hot sauce and she noticed the edge of a tattoo on his right arm peeking from under the sleeve of his t-shirt. She couldn’t make it out, except that it was black. She didn’t like tattoos, but for some strange reason it wouldn’t seem right if this guy didn’t have one.
“He’s not as pretty as you,” he said. “You should eat before your food gets cold.” He lifted the top bun off his sandwich, doused it with hot sauce and took a huge bite.
Michelle studied him, wondering if this was some kind of joke. “I can’t tell if you’re charming or full of crap.”
“Let’s go with charming,” he said, chewing.
“Why did you bring me fried okra and beer? What if I don’t like fried okra and beer?”
He wiped his mouth with the napkin. “I snagged the first dish I saw and came over. It’s ninety degrees outside, and what’s better than a cold beer on a hot day?”
Michelle narrowed her eyes at him as she tried to figure out the game he was running. She stabbed at the okra and slid the fork into her mouth. “Not bad. This is good, too,” she said, after biting into a hushpuppy.
“What’s your name?” he asked, holding her gaze.
“Michelle.” She tilted the beer bottle toward him. He twisted off the metal cap and tossed it on the table. His friendly smile invited her to relax and indulge.
She took a long swig and felt the liquid cooling the inside of her body. “You’re a strange man.”
“Do you like strange?” His mouth curved into a boyish grin that softened his rugged features.
“You’ll need to do better than okra and beer to find out,” she said, unbothered by his sexually-charged innuendo. She’d heard worse playing high school and college basketball. There was always some dirty remark made by one of the boys to shock and embarrass the girls. Usually some immature comment about boobs.
“What would you like me to do?” he asked, with a nasty grin that screamed trouble.
At least he was handsome. He added spice to her day, and Lord knows she needed it. She usually preferred clean-cut professionals, but this Damien-guy oozed sexy with his scruffy beard, thick shaggy black hair and mesmerizing eyes. They were deep-blue-sea eyes that looked right through her and made her a bit nervous.
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