Here I am, alone again. Well, what is new?
I was in the same position six years ago when I watched their wedding ceremony. I was sitting all alone, not knowing anyone, because the guests were mostly acquainted with the Alejandros. Oh, right! Something had changed; I could drink now.
This was my third glass of wine, and my throat still wanted more—perhaps a stronger drink. My roommate, Katherine, would usually offer vodka during sleepless nights and discouraging times. If only my stepbrother wasn’t such an ass and actually treated me as a part of the family, I wouldn’t have been such a loner.
Nonetheless, I didn’t think I wanted to mingle around him at his time. He’s been talking and dancing non-stop with a blonde Barbie doll in a body-hugging red dress, my eyes hurt just looking at them. He was holding her back. I’d always convinced myself that he was off-limits, yet I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to be held by him.
I heaved a sigh. I was getting more and more hopeless as the night progressed.
The waiter once again came back with another glass, but he spoke this time. “Would you like something to eat, miss?”
“No, just this drink. Thank you.”
“But, I’ve noticed, you haven’t eaten anything,” he spoke again. When did waiters become so observant? But he was right, I hadn’t.
“Give the lady a snack, please,” another voice interrupted, and a man in a crisp gray suit and silver neckties appeared behind him. He was seriously handsome, and about Luke’s age, I’d guess, with hazel eyes.
“And who are you?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
He let out a chuckle and sat in the chair across me. “I’m Aries. Nice to meet you.” He reached out a hand.
“Scarlet.” I shook his hand.
Aries flashed me a charming smile, showing two deep dimples. “How come such a beautiful lady like you is sitting here alone?”
Okay, he was good at this. I knew men like him, but I couldn’t decide which category I should put him in.
“I’m not alone,” I reasoned. Well, I wasn’t utterly alone. My parents and stepbrother were out there.
He smiled again. “Really? Where’s your company? Are they here?” He lifted the tablecloth and looked under the table. “I can’t see anyone.”
“Stop it!” I finally laughed. For the first time today, I felt pleasant. “Okay, okay. You got me there. But what is a man like you doing here? Are you alone too?”
“Nah. My parents came. But I’d rather speak with the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid eyes on; I’d be crazy to do otherwise.”
My cheeks heated. There was no cockiness in his voice. I actually found him kind of sweet. “Thanks. I’m not going to lie, but I’m getting pretty bored.”
His brows met. “Why? Isn’t this your parents’ party? And by the way, Luke never mentioned that he has a sister.”
“Luke?” I scowled. My mood altered with the mention of his name. “Did he send you here to annoy me?”
His expression softened; he looked surprised, even. “Did I annoy you?”
He shook his head. “He didn’t send me, no. He wouldn’t.”
I paused. “Why not?”
“He probably wouldn’t allow me to be near you.”
“He would not allow me because Luke and I have a common taste in women, and he knows it. And if I had a sister like you, I wouldn’t allow him to come near her.”
“Wow, maybe I shouldn’t be talking to you.”
I chuckled. “Come on, it’s a party. A party is always an exception.”
“So, are you close to him?”
“Well, I could say that. Do you want to dance?”
I blinked twice. His invitation was unexpected.
“If that’s alright?” he added.
“What? I don’t know...”
“Well, you don’t plan on staying alone the whole night, are you?”
I blushed. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. I’d not danced in forever. The last time was too long ago. He was going to save me in a night of boredom anyway. “Sure. I think I’d like to dance.”
He flashed a victorious grin once more and stood. He offered his hand to me, and I gladly accepted it. He didn’t seem dangerous.
Aries ushered me to the crowd of couples swaying in the middle of the dancefloor to ‘You’re the Inspiration’ by Chicago.
He was careful and gentle when he held my hand, his other hand at my waist. He was a gentleman still, leaving a small space between us so he wouldn’t crowd me.
For the next three romantic songs, we spoke about college and his job. He told me he was a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and recently he’d received his Master’s degree and was taking the steps to his Ph.D.
He spoke about how he met Luke. His father and Thomas were good friends, and they’d attended high school together.
“I still cannot believe he did not tell me about you,” he said.
I smirked. “That isn’t so surprising. This is only the second time we’ve met in six years.”
“Oh, that explains it. He wasn’t very fond of having a sister, no? But he loves your mother.”
“She’s great.” I shrugged. “I’m not saying that because she’s my mother, she’s really one of a kind. She always sees the good in people.”
“I agree.” He grinned. “And she makes good food. There are times I only come here for meals.”
It made me smile. “Now, I’m jealous.”
“Maybe we could all gather together. A simple celebration for your arrival. I’ll come by.”
I stopped dancing when the song altered to the next. “And you are planning my party now?”
He laughed softly. “Maybe I am. I’d like to see you again.”
We continued again, swaying our bodies in time with the new song. “But I’m going back to Cambridge next week.”
“Then, I’ll visit you in Cambridge,” he said as if it was just that simple. He could be very charming, I had to admit. He was funny, and he knew how to make someone laugh with his straightforwardness. I liked his personality, to be honest.
“I’ll think about that.”
“I’ll hope for that—” He suddenly stopped and looked behind me.
The poisonous bastard stepbrother appeared now of all times. I rolled my eyes.
“What’s up?” Aries released me so he could address Luke with a pat to his shoulder. Just as I was finally having a good moment, he appeared to annoy me.
“I thought you said you couldn’t come?” Luke said in a low, gruff voice. He didn’t seem pleased to see his friend. What was his problem?
“I cleared up my schedule. I couldn’t approach you since you’re busy with some blonde,” Aries joked then gave Luke a friendly hit on the stomach.
I laughed softly, but Luke sent me a hard gaze. I looked away.
“Mind if I steal your dance partner?” Luke asked Aries, but his eyes were fixated on me.
“Sure, man.” Aries stepped aside and patted Luke’s shoulder again and winked at me. “See you later, Scarlet.”
I answered him with a smile.
Luke slid an arm around my waist and pulled me close to him as soon his friend left. And unlike Aries, who gave me space, Luke sandwiched me between his arms, possessively pressing me against his rock-hard body. His broad physique dwarfed my small frame, which made me feel vulnerable, and it was bad news all around. I hated this effect he was having on me; he made me feel like squirming. I clung to his shoulders but kept my eyes away and tried not to drink him in. He smelled so divine.
I could feel Luke’s gaze on me as he began swaying our hips. His long fingers at my back were compelling me to move in accord with his body. His thumb pressing firm on my palm. I tried to bear it, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t breathe. He was driving me crazy.
“Wait,” I whispered.
I stopped and pushed his chest a little with my free hand, but he didn’t let me escape. He brought me back into his arms with aggression. A quiet groan of frustration vibrated in his chest. What the heck was wrong with him?
“Stop struggling,” he hissed harshly.
“Luke…” I resisted. “Please… this isn’t dancing.”
“Then what do you think are we doing?” he whispered, and even how he said the simple words were so damned hot.
“Ah… please don’t.” His grasp on my wrist tightened.
I looked up at him this time, and he was watching me with need. As if he was stripping me with his gaze. Luke’s hand moved to my neck, and his thumb brushed my cheek. A muscle in his jaw twitched.
“Is this what you normally do, witch?”
I tried to wriggle out of his grasp subtly. “What did I do?”
“I think you’ve bewitched every man in here.”