Game For Love(4)

By: Mara Jacobs

They were dressed much more conservatively than the rest, as well. The one Declan had hoped was Cole’s Anna was in jeans and a Pumas jersey. She was the shorter of the two, maybe five-four, cute as a button with long hair and a fresh-faced good-girl look. Her slight frame was dwarfed by the jersey.

The other one, the one Declan hoped was not Cole’s wife, meaning she might be unattached, sported a look that had never crossed the threshold of this house. And Declan liked it. He liked it a lot. He could honestly say he found himself drawn to it. Drawn to her.

Business suit, glasses, and a bun. She was beautiful. No makeup. Surely the only woman in the room, other than Anna, to have on at least two layers. A perfectly formed oval face, with cheekbones that seemed even more pronounced due to her glasses. Declan glanced around and wondered how many people in this packed room, male and female, wore contacts and would rather die than be seen in glasses. Probably more than half. She was definitely refreshing. Just then she pushed the glasses up higher on her nose and the movement seemed almost alluring to Declan.

He couldn’t tell much about her figure through the severely cut suit, but she was tall and nicely shaped from what he could see. He’d sure like to get that jacket off of her. Maybe she wasn’t wearing anything under that cream blouse. Was it real silk? What would it feel like under his hands to unbutton it? Would it slip out of his grasp, take him several attempts to bare her skin? Declan wondered how sheer it was, if he’d be able to see the outline of a camisole, or a lacy bra, or maybe just the outline of the woman herself. He was a sucker for fancy lingerie. Not the bawdy stuff like animal prints, or anything obvious like black leather cut-outs. But soft, expensive, sweet, barely there bras and panties undid him.

Declan’s only intention had been to walk Cole to the door, meet the wife that Cole never stopped talking about when the two men talked on the phone, say goodbye, and return to the party. The party was in his honor, and it would be rude to spend too much time with any one guest, but this woman made Declan quickly change his mind. With an eerie sense of knowledge, he knew that she could pull him from his self-imposed funk.

He had to get to know her better, and if the look of distaste on her face as she watched one of his teammates openly grope some girl meant anything, he didn’t think he could talk her out of skipping the restaurant and staying at the party with him.

As if calling an audible at the line, Declan had hurriedly changed the play. “I’m coming to dinner with you guys, if that’s okay,” Declan quietly said to Cole as they had neared the women.

“Sure. Of course. That’d be great, but…yeah…okay, whatever. Great,” Cole said, obviously surprised at Declan’s announcement.

Now, still holding her hand, Declan thought that maybe that was the best play he’d called all day. Yes, it was definitely a thunderbolt that went through Declan. He slowly released Marlee’s hand and gave her his best killer smile. Her hand had been cold, probably from just coming in, and it had warmed in the small amount of time that Declan had held it. He regretfully let it slip from his, making a silent promise to himself to not let this woman get cold again tonight.

“It’s Ms. Reeves. But please call me Marlee.”

Damn, the Ms. thing. That could mean anything. He surreptitiously glanced at her left hand. No ring of any kind; that was good. She could have a boyfriend, though. He grimaced to himself. Well, they’d have a nice, long, drawn-out dinner if he had anything to say about it, and he’d get to know her better.

She seemed so different from all the women he knew. He was intrigued with her. He knew it was a cliché, but he was dying to slide off her glasses, take the pins out of her hair, have her shake it out, and become a wildcat right in front of him. She had the green-gold eyes of a cat—and the grace of one, as well. He had noticed that right away—the way she moved, her ease. She had walked into a room full of people that she didn’t know, that she was 180 degrees different from, and seemed not to notice or care.

“I’m going to go back, leave through the kitchen and out the back. I’ll meet you in the driveway. What kind of car are you driving?” Declan asked Anna and Marlee, not sure which one of the women had driven to the party.

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