Copyright © 2013 Erin Nicholas
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
He tugged Amanda through the crowd to the corner near the back door. It wasn’t exactly private, but it would work for a few minutes. That was all he would have, he was sure, before Conner realized one of his friends had one of his sisters off in a dark corner alone.
“Yes, I talked to Tim Winters,” Ryan said when they were as alone as they were going to get. “Right after he clocked me and knocked me on my ass.”
Amanda gasped. “He hit you?”
“Yeah, because I slept with you.”
“I… Oh… Um…”
Ryan fought a smile. “But it’s weird. That really seems like something I’d remember.”
She rolled her eyes. “We all probably blend together after a while.” She said it quietly, more of a mutter really, but he heard it.
“What’s that mean?” he demanded. He put a finger under her chin and tipped her head so she had to look at him. “Amanda, what does that mean?”
She shrugged and pulled her chin away from his touch. “It means that it’s got to be difficult keeping track of everyone in and out of your bed without making them all wear name tags.”
He grinned. He couldn’t help it. She was sassy too. He liked that. And liked even more that it didn’t show all the time. Emma was pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. He liked knowing that there might be layers to Amanda Dixon to discover.
“Where would they pin the name tags?” he couldn’t resist asking.
For a moment, Amanda seemed surprised. Then she smiled. “You’ll have to get the adhesive ones, I guess.”
“Might cover up something I need to see.”
“You could try only dating women named Jennifer or something.”
He smiled. “But then Tim Winters wouldn’t believe whatever you told him about you and me.”
Amanda pressed her lips together. Then said, “I’m really sorry he hit you.”
“I’ll live. What I want to know is why he did it.”
“I thought he…told you.”
She actually blushed and Ryan wondered if he could remember the last time he’d seen a woman blush. Not off the top of his head.
“I want to hear it from you.”
She looked at the collar of his shirt instead of his eyes. “I told him I had a one-night stand with someone and had feelings for him.”
“How’d I get to be the lucky one?”
He hated that she thought he was messing around. “Amanda.”
She finally looked up into his eyes.
She swallowed. “You’re…the type, I guess.”
He frowned at that. That was what she thought of him? That he was the type of guy to screw around with another man’s girl?
“I don’t touch what isn’t free to be touched.”
She sighed. “Tim and I are not dating. We haven’t done more than chat and dance. I was trying to let him down easy without the whole ‘you’re a great guy, but—’ routine. I thought another guy was the easiest way.”
“Especially if the other guy ruined you for all other men. Who can argue with that?”
Her eyes widened and she blushed again, but then she laughed. “That’s what I thought. Ruined is ruined, after all.”
He’d love to be the one to ruin her.
The thought snuck up on him, and Ryan had to take a quick breath before saying casually, “Clearly he’s a little more into you than you thought.”
She shrugged and gave him a small smile. “The one time I think ‘what would Emma do?’ and I end up with an honest-to-goodness nice guy. Figures.”
“What does ‘what would Emma do’ mean?” Ryan asked.
Amanda laughed softly. “Well, I guess what wouldn’t Emma do might be more accurate. As you know.”
Ah, and there was the jab about him and her little sister. He’d been expecting it.
Okay, maybe she had a point. Emma was a bit notorious and yeah, okay, Ryan knew Emma’s naughty side personally. Still…
“Why are you thinking about what Emma would do or not do when it comes to Winters?”
“He’s been flirting with me and he’s good-looking, so when he asked me to dance, I thought ‘what would Emma do?’ Emma’s never turned down a dance with a cute guy. Ever.”
“Why are you doing things just because Emma would do them?” Though knowing what kind of things Emma would do, the idea sounded pretty good to him. He’d love to see Amanda in some skimpy lingerie. Or do some role-playing with her. His gut tightened and his palms itched. Oh, yeah. They’d start with the pirate and his slave girl.
“Let me ask you a question,” Amanda said instead of answering his question. “Is Emma sexy?”
Ryan was pretty sure he was going to get himself into trouble, but he answered, “Yes.”
“You notice her as soon as she walks into a room?”
Well, not just him but… “Yes.”
“And she’s fun? Someone people want to spend time with, someone people look forward to seeing?”
Ryan felt like he was even closer to screwing up as he nodded. “Yes. Emma’s…Emma.”
Amanda didn’t look insulted. “Exactly. Emma is Emma. She’s the girl all the guys want to be with and all the girls want to be.” She swallowed hard and crossed her arms. “Even me.”
Ryan felt a kick in his gut. “Emma also drives a lot of people crazy.”
Amanda nodded. “I know. I’m at the top of that list. But there’s no denying that Emma has a lot of fun. She’s sexy, and people want to be around her, people pay attention to her—who wouldn’t want to be her? Or like her? Even if just for a little bit?”
“Okay, I’ll grant you all of that. So, you thought you’d flirt and dance a little, but Tim took it the wrong way.”
“And when you had to let him down you thought ‘what would Emma do?’”
“Something like that.”
“And you picked me because?”
“Because you’re…” She trailed off and her cheeks got even redder.
Ryan couldn’t help his grin. This he had to hear. “Because I’m…?”
“Something Emma would do.”
He couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped. No one could really argue with that, he supposed.
Amanda wet her bottom lip and looked up at him and said softly, “Sorry.”
He didn’t want an apology. He didn’t want her to be sorry for having the idea of the two of them burning up the sheets one night. He wanted her to keep that idea firmly in mind, in fact.
But Winters had mentioned something that Emma wouldn’t do—he’d said Amanda had fallen in love with Ryan.
“Did you tell him it was a one-night stand?”
He liked the idea that she would think he was so amazing that one night would cause her to be head over heels. Even if it was only in her imagination.
Amanda took a deep breath. “Yes, just one night.”
Ryan moved in closer, wanting her full attention on him. “Okay. Make it up to me.”
“Give me that night.”