Chapter One

"Just Breath"  

A man sitting by himself can be a rather menacing thing.  While sitting at a pub is not an odd sight, his posture was.  Head down, arms resting on the table, one hand caressing the rim of his glass while the other tapped out a slow rhythm only known to him.  He seemed out of place surrounded by the slurred voices of other patrons.  Smoke curling around his head, drifting to the ceiling into a great cloud of spent breath and tobacco.
The hour grew late, much later than he'd planned on staying.  As the owner of the pub that wasn't unusual.  But tonight was different and it seemed everyone there knew it.  They also knew him well enough to know that when he sat at that table, with a chair in front of him as if someone would soon occupy it… they let him be.  This was status quo; no one ever deviated from the plan and tonight appeared to be no different.  

As regulars came and went it was strange that he notice the door open this particular time.  Perhaps because it was opened longer than  normal or maybe the smell of rain in the air caught his attention.  But as the stale smoke was sucked out, he slowly looked up.  He thought nothing of the lowering of voices.  It wasn't much; probably not even noticeable to the other customers, but he did wonder who was causing the reaction.  

From where he sat he could only see the back of the door and had to wait a moment.  At first he noticed her shoes, which was unusual because he didn't normally notice such things, but they were red, they were high and they were followed by a rolling suitcase in the same shade.

As she pulled it over the threshold she had to twist just a bit to adjust the wheels.  When she did the muscles in her calves flexed and he was surprised by his own physical reaction.  While he was busy admiring her legs he noticed another pair covered in trousers.  Someone was helping her with her luggage.  It had gotten wedged between the door and the frame when the hydraulic catch shut too quickly behind her.

Realizing his throat had gone dry he brought his drink to his lips, allowing him to speed up his assessment of her.   As his eyes moved past her legs they encountered a fitted dress and jacket.  He wasn't sure what the style was called, but he remembered photos from the 60’s and how the clothing hugged the body, just like hers did.  Everything she wore was red, including the lipstick that framed the most beautiful smile he had ever seen.  

At the moment that smile was pointed at the man who had just dislodged her case.  A handshake was exchanged and she was free to move forward.  Her destination was the bar, straight to Ian.  His bartender and closest friend.  Ian seemed to recognize her, yelled a hello over the noise of the pub and the two hugged.  She pulled back, smiled into his face and for a second, just a second he felt jealous.  She had given that smile to two men already and he felt cheated.  Where was his?  And why on earth had he just thought that?

Ian placed her case behind the bar, pointed to a stool and began making her a drink.  As though he already knew what she liked.  He watched as she shrugged out of her jacket and rested it on the back of the stool.  The shirt underneath was just a breath of material.  Some silk number that probably did little to keep her warm, but did an excellent job of showing off her curves.  

This was no runway model, no thin girl fresh out of adolescence.  This was a woman who had put in some physical work, but also allowed herself pleasures in life.  This was the kind of woman you wanted to feel next to your skin. 

Whoa... where did that come from?  He took a long pull from his drink and tried to pry his eyes from her dark hair, pinned up on her head, exposing a neck that begged to be kissed, shoulders that needed to be caressed, a back that would feel perfect against his bare chest, a waist that his hands would love to explore and an ass that would keep him warm.  

Damn it.  He could feel himself heating up.  Blood racing fast, he needed to get to know this woman.  And if Ian knew her then he knew he had a shot of getting that chance.  But first… he had to calm down. 

As he took the last sip of his drink he decided rather than wait for Sarah to come refill it, he'd go to the bar.  Just one more deep breath to settle things down.  He ran his hand through his hair and decided he was ready.  As he grabbed his mug he saw Sarah approaching his table and waved her off ; standing up so quickly he nearly tipped his chair over.  The look of confusion on her face distracted him for a second, but he stayed on course. 

The sound of his chair sliding across the floor caught her attention, she had one of her heels hooked over the rung of the bar stool, the other heel dangled from her toes and she casually slide it back and forth across the opposite calf.  With just a push of her ankle she rotated the chair around and watched as he approached.  

His eyes were focused on her.  She almost checked behind her to make sure, but knew there was no one there since Ian was helping another customer down the bar.  She held his stare.  This wasn't the first man to approach her in a bar and chances were it wouldn't be the last.  Not that she was so arrogant as to think men couldn’t resist her, it was just a simple truth that a woman, alone in a bar, was a magnet.  

She was mentally preparing her refusal speech, but with each step she was rethinking it.  The eyes that held her's were a shade of green she had never seen before, pale in color, almost an ice green with dark lashes that no doubt frustrated his women friends.  He had a straight nose, full bottom lip, late night stubble and as her eyes traveled down to his neck she noticed his shirt was opened and a smattering of hair that she instantly imagined brushing up against her… calm down now.  

Deep breath. 

"Your room's ready.  You want me to carry your bags over?"  Ian stepped between the two holding his cell phone.  As if to answer the question forming on her lips.  


"Your room, it's ready.  You did ask me to get you one, correct?"  

"Yes, sorry. I must be tired.  Almost forgot where I was."

She looked over Ian's shoulder and noticed the guy that was practically stalking her just seconds ago had set his empty glass on one of the tables and pushing open the heavy door.  Leaving her wondering who he was and what he wanted.

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Still a work in progress, but thanks for reading.