Something Unexpected by Vi Keeland
“YOU’VE GOT TO be kidding me…” I mumbled and turned, shouting over my shoulder. “Oh, and thanks for sticking me with the tab!”
The bartender walked over. “Everything okay, ma’am?”
I sighed. “Yeah. Guy I met on Tinder just turned out to be nothing like I expected.”
A deep voice came from the other end of the bar. “Shocker. Maybe you should try looking somewhere a little more respectable…”
I squinted down at him. “Excuse me?”
The guy rattled the ice in his glass without looking up. “What’s the matter? He wasn’t as good-looking as his picture made him out to be? You gotta give a guy some leeway. You women are the queens of hiding shit. Lord knows we go to bed with someone with long hair, a great tan, and full lips. In the morning, we wake up next to a person we don’t recognize because of all the makeup, hair extensions, and plumping crap you use.”
Seriously?“Perhaps if you weren’t so rude and looked at a person when you were speaking to them, you might have noticed that I don’t have hair extensions, wear very little makeup, and I’m naturally plumped in all the right places.”
That seemed to get his attention. The guy’s head lifted, and he did a quick sweep over my face before his eyes snagged on my cleavage. It gave me my first good look at him. The face that came with that attitude was nothing like I would’ve expected. Based on how defensive he was about my would-be date’s looks not being up to par, I thought maybe he had some experience disappointing women. But this guy definitely didn’t let down anyone. He was younger than his grumbly voice hinted at, with dark brown hair that could use a cut. Yet I would’ve enjoyed running my fingers through it had he been my Tinder date. He had a strong, masculine jaw peppered with stubble, a Romanesque nose, tanned skin, and aquamarine eyes lined with the thickest black lashes I’d ever seen.
Too bad he was also a jerk.
When his eyes finally met mine, I arched a brow. “Which one of us is the shallow one again?”
His lip twitched. “Never said I didn’t appreciate beautiful things. Just that you should give a guy a chance.”
I shook my head. “Not that it’s any of your business, but the reason that guy wasn’t what I expected was because he had an indent from his wedding band on his finger. Probably slipped it off two seconds before he walked in. It had nothing to do with his looks.”
“I apologize then.” He motioned to the bartender. “Her next round is on me.”
I pointed to the half-drunk expensive scotch Tinder guy had left behind—without any cash. “How about that one is on you instead?”
He chuckled. “You got it.”
I sipped my wine, still stewing over the jerk I’d wasted three days talking to. Eventually I yelled over to Mr. Attitude again. “Hey, so what do you use?”
“What dating app? You said I should use a more respectable dating app.”
“Oh.” He shrugged. “I don’t use any.”
“So you just what…troll the supermarket pretending to shop?”
“Something like that.” He smirked. “Is Tinder your go-to?”
“It depends on what I’m looking for.”
“What were you looking for tonight?”
I thought about the question. Let’s face it, I found the guy on Tinder three days ago and met him in the bar in the lobby of my hotel. I think it was clear what both of us expected to happen. But it wasn’t really about the physical—at least for me. “To forget,” I answered.
The guy’s mask of superiority might have slipped, just a little. Then his phone rang, and he swiped to answer.
“Tell them I’ll join in five minutes,” he said. “I need to get up to my room where the prospectus and my notes are.” He said nothing more before swiping off and lifting his chin to the bartender. “I need to run. Can I sign the tab to my room?”
The bartender nodded. “Sure thing.”
“Room two twelve.” Arrogant guy reached into his pocket and took out a wad of cash. Tossing a few bills on the bar, he motioned to me. “Put her bill for the night on my room, too, please.”
“You got it.”
I lifted my wine. “Shame you have to go. Maybe you aren’t such a jerk after all.”
His lip twitched. “I called the meeting, so I can’t miss it. But it’s definitely my loss.”
I grinned. “Sure is…”
Though as I watched him stand and realized he was well over six-feet tall and his dress shirt hugged him very nicely, I wondered if it was my loss after all. Nonetheless, he disappeared with only a nod.
Forty-five minutes later, I told the bartender to save my seat—even though I was the only person in the bar—and went to the ladies’ room. Yawning as I washed my hands, I figured it was time to call it a night. But when I returned, a man sat in the chair next to mine. And not just any man—the arrogant, incredibly handsome guy from earlier.
I took my seat, which now had a fresh glass of wine in front of it. “How was your meeting?” I asked.
“Do you really care?”
“No, but I was being polite. Something you should try once in a while.” I turned to face him and tried to ignore that he was even better looking this close up. I’d never used the word smoldering to describe eyes before, but that’s what his were. Smoldering bedroom eyes. He smelled damn good, too. “You know, just because you’re hot doesn’t mean you can be rude. Maybe that works for you in the supermarket, but it won’t work with me.”
He raised a brow. “You think I’m hot?”
I rolled my eyes. “You should’ve focused on the part about being rude. Figures all you heard was good-looking.”
“Is that why you picked Tinder guy? He was polite?”
“He was nice, yes. He was also funny and made me laugh.”
He lifted his drink. “Nice and funny got you a married guy who stuck you with the tab. Maybe you should try hot and rude?”
I chuckled. He had a point. “Do you have a name? Or do you prefer to be referred to as Mr. Arrogant? Because that’s what I’ve been saying in my head.”
Mr. Arrogant extended his hand. “Beck.”
When I put mine into his, he lifted it to his lips and kissed the top. It caused a tingle all over me. Though I wasn’t about to tell him that.
“Is this how they do it in the supermarket? Kiss a stranger’s hand and invite her back to your place?”
“My place is three-thousand miles away.”
“Oh. So you aren’t looking to replace the guy I kicked to the curb earlier?”
He grinned. “If you’re actively seeking a replacement, I mean, I am right here. But I’d like your name first, at least.”
I laughed. “Nora.”
He nodded. “Nice to meet you, Nora.”
“What brings you out to the middle of nowhere, Beck?”
“I came to see family. You?”
“Girls’ trip. We’re just passing through for a few days.”
Beck’s phone buzzed on the bar. He leaned forward to check the screen and shook his head. “I’m gone a half a day and all hell breaks loose at the office.”
“Not going to answer it?”
“It can wait till tomorrow.”
“What is it you do that makes you such a popular man?”
“I’m in mergers and acquisitions.”
“Sounds fancy, but I have no idea what that actually means.”
“It varies. Some days my company helps companies around the same size consolidate and become one big powerhouse. Other days we help a powerful company take over a weaker one.”
“Does the smaller company want to be taken over?”
“Not always. There are friendly transactions and hostile ones. The one all the calls have been about tonight is not a friendly takeover.” He sipped his drink. “What do you do?”
“I make coffee table books.”
“Like the thick ones with travel photos or fashion through the years or whatever that people leave out?”
“One and the same.”
“So are you an author or a photographer?”
I shrugged. “Both, I guess. Though it still seems surreal that I can make a living doing something so much fun. I went to school for journalism with aspirations to be a writer. Photography was always my hobby, but now I write the copy and take the photos for my books.”
“How did you get into that?”
“After college, I queried an agent with hopes of selling a thriller novel I was writing. Back then, I had a blog for fun. I used to take photos of people living on the streets of New York, and underneath each one, I wrote a little story about the person. I had a link to it in the signature block of my email. The agent I’d sent the chapters to didn’t love the story, but she noticed the link to my blog and checked it out. She asked if I’d be interested in pitching a coffee-table-type book instead. I said sure, and over the next eight years I created twenty-five coffee table books about the people who live on the streets in different cities. Last year I started a new collection about graffiti and graffiti artists in different cities.”
“That sounds a hell of a lot more fun than mergers and acquisitions.”
I smiled. “I’m sure it is. I consider myself very lucky, career-wise. I make a good living doing something I love and get to travel all over the place. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and I donate a percentage of all book sales to support housing for those who need it.”
Beck’s eyes roamed my face. “What are you trying to forget, Nora?”
It took me a second to realize what he meant. That’s what I’d told him I was trying to do with the Tinder guy. “Doesn’t everyone want to forget life once in a while?”
“Maybe.” He rubbed his bottom lip. “But usually there’s something in particular, like a difficult relationship, stress on the job, financial struggles, or family troubles.”
I traced my finger through the condensation on the bottom of my glass while Beck quietly waited for my response. I turned to face him. “Do you want to know why I like Tinder instead of meeting people in the supermarket or a bar?”
“Because it’s easy to find men who are happy to make me forget, yet don’t care enough to ask why all I want from them is sex.”
Beck tipped his glass to me before raising it to his lips. “Got it.”
As he drank, I noticed the chunky watch on his wrist—Audemars Piguet, not Rolex. I’d always felt the type of watch a man wears says a lot about him. Most men use a Rolex as a status symbol, showing off that they can afford to spend the price of a car to decorate their wrist. And they know others know it too, since it’s one of the world’s most popular luxury brands. On the other hand, Audemars Piguet is not particularly well known to a non-watch person, and it’s generally more expensive. Most men wear a Rolex for other people, but an Audemars Piguet is worn for yourself. Mr. Attitude moved up a notch in my book.
The second thing I often used to gauge a man was the drink he ordered. Beck’s glass had been full when I came back from the ladies’ room, so I wasn’t sure what the amber liquid was. I presumed some sort of whiskey.
“Is that scotch?” I motioned to the tumbler in front of him.
He held it out to me. “Whiskey. Would you like to taste it?”
“No, but I’m curious what kind it is.”
He tilted his head. “Why?”
“I don’t know. I’ve just always found a certain type of man orders a certain type of drink.” My eyes pointed to his wrist. “Watches can tell a lot about a person, too.”
“So my watch and telling you what brand of whiskey I’m drinking is going to help you figure out who I am?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
He finished what was left in his glass and signaled the bartender, who walked right over.
“What brand did you say this was?” he asked.
“It’s called Hillcrest Reserve. Made about ten miles away from here by a third-generation distiller.”
Beck pushed his glass forward on the bar. “Thank you. I’ll take another when you get a chance.”
Once the bartender walked away, Beck looked to me. “Apparently it’s called Hillcrest Reserve.”
My brows furrowed. “Did you not know that when you ordered it?”
He shook his head. “Nope. I asked if they had any locally made, small-batch whiskey. I like to try local foods and whiskey when I travel. I live in Manhattan. I can walk into any bar and get two-hundred-dollar-a-nip Macallan. But I can’t get Hillcrest Reserve.”
I smiled. “I like that.”
“But you look surprised. I take it my selection doesn’t match the type of man you’d assumed I was.”
“What did you think I was drinking?”
My smile broadened. “The two-hundred-dollar-a-nip Macallan you can get anywhere.”
Beck chuckled. “And what type of man orders that?”
I took a drink of my wine and set it down. “The kind who lives in Manhattan, works in mergers and acquisitions, and wears a fancy suit and Rolex. Basically every Wall Street douchebag standing outside Cipriani for happy hour on a Friday afternoon.”
Beck threw his head back in laughter. I’d just insulted the guy, and he was amused. “I guess I made a pretty shitty first impression.”
I deadpanned. “You told me I should look someplace more respectable for my dates.”
“I thought you deserved better.”
“I think you’re full of shit. You’re only being nice now because you know I was looking for a night of no strings attached, and you think you have a shot at being my replacement.”
“Am I out of the running?”
I took a moment to check him out again. Damn, he’s pretty. “You’re only hanging on by a thread because you’re gorgeous.”
A slow, sexy smile spread across his face. “I like your honesty.”
“I like your jawline.”
His eyes gleamed. “You’ll like my big dick even better.”
I bit my bottom lip. The conversation had just taken a turn toward most of my Tinder messages—definitely a place I was more comfortable than talking about why I wanted to forget my life for a while. “How do I know you’re not a serial killer?”
“How did you know the Tinder loser wasn’t?”
Good point. I sipped my wine. “How old are you?”
“Old enough that I know what to do with you, and young enough that I don’t have to take a pill to do it.”
I smirked. “Is that so? You know what to do with me?”
He smiled self-assuredly. “I do, yes.”
The air crackled between us. For some reason, I knew this guy could deliver on his promise. Maybe it was his quiet confidence, or maybe it was that a man who looked the way he did got lots of practice. The latter would’ve been a turnoff if I was looking for more than one night, but it didn’t much matter if it served my purposes for a one-time deal.
I looked into his too-blue eyes. “Tell me then.”
“Tell you what?”
“What you would do with me.”
The wicked grin that slid across his face almost made me want to take back what I’d asked. Almost.
Beck lifted his glass and gulped his drink before leaning over to my ear. “I’d start by burying my face in your pussy until you came all over my tongue. Then I’d fuck you like I hate you.”
Oh God. My toes actually curled. Sold!
He pulled back to look at me and raised a brow.
I teetered on the edge, debating whether I was crazy for considering taking this man up to my room. While I deliberated, I happened to look down.
Holy shit. His slacks had pulled tight around the top of one thigh, and there was a distinct bulge running down his leg. A verylong, very thick bulge.
I was a woman who believed in signs, and that one I couldn’t miss. So I knocked back the remainder of my wine and slipped one of my two hotel keycards from my purse, sliding it over in front of the man next to me.
“Room two nineteen. Give me a ten-minute head start so I can freshen up.”