Six women! Coop’s brain thought as his mouth kept right on talking. You’d think that would be enough attention for a thirty-six-year-old Henderson has-been. But no. You’ve got six women hanging on your every word, and all you can think about is that one and whether Christy-Lynn Brilhart is snoggin’ Harry the Bartender.
Vance took over the conversation, extolling overblown praise about Cooper’s abilities and what he’d gotten done up there in Baltimore when good ol’ Harry arrived with a silver tray laden with tiny little Reuben sandwiches. Appetizers for the ladies, he’d said. And just like magic, the gaggle of women followed Harry, as if in a trance, to the far side of the room.
Cooper watched them trail off, thinking he and Vance were now free to make their escape. All he had to do was duck his head, keep his eyes on the carpet, and put one foot in front of the other. Right, left, right, left, out the door and down the road to The Tavern where he could now tie one on without worry or concern about who he might run into. But the damn fool in him, truly a glutton for punishment, couldn’t stop his gaze from shifting over one last time and landing on her.
Stupid move, he thought as all of his senses hooked themselves into soft auburn curls and some truly lush curves shown off by an exquisite knit dress. Those hazel eyes of hers stared right at him—bright and steady—ensnaring him from forty paces and holding him captive. Maybe they even twinkled. Hard to tell without any oxygen getting to his brain. Whatever. He was done. Couldn’t move now if the place were burning down around him.
He watched as her weight shifted from one foot to the other. Her shapely legs appeared longer than he remembered as his gaze drifted past knobby knees and delicate ankles to slender feet slipped into beige platform heels.
Her head tilted slightly, pulling his regard back to her face. Back to those gorgeous lips. That’s probably when his tongue darted out to wet his own. Because he wanted to taste her. His whole body wanted to taste her. From her lips to her toes. He wanted to compare his memories of the girl he couldn’t forget to the woman who bewitched him now. Sweet and slender had definitely turned into rare and voluptuous. He didn’t dare blink, not wanting to miss a moment as the color of sunset stained her narrow cheeks and flushed down the skin revealed by the enticing V-neck of that smokin’ hot kelly green dress.
A helluva dress, he thought. Expensive. Lively. A far cry from her old wardrobe of hand-me-downs. How had he even recognized her? Far more sophisticated than he remembered, his precious little homespun country girl had matured into one spectacular woman.
He felt Vance’s hand land on his shoulder, breaking the spell Christy-Lynn had woven around him. “Why don’t you do yourself a favor and go over and talk to that one,” Vance said quietly. “I’ll be waiting in the foyer. You take as long as you like.”
Cooper cleared his throat. “Go on home.”
Vance looked over at Christy-Lynn, his smile broadening. “Go get ’er Coach.”
“It’s … it’s not gonna be like that,” Cooper said, finally dragging his gaze off Christy-Lynn and over to Vance.
“Coach,” Vance said with a soft chuckle. “It’s time to stop lying to yourself. Call me in the morning.”
Cooper nodded, his gaze drifting back across the room.
Back to that one.
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