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Playful X-mas party flirting becomes anything but playful.
She struck a defiant pose, then negated it with a flip of long, brown hair. Sean's smile broadened as he recognized the age-old lure.
"Okay," she closed the distance between them and put a hand on her hip. "Since you know so much, let's see what you pick out."
"Since you set the bar so low, anything's better. Follow me. "He took the petite dynamo's hand and led her down the aisle. She watched with curiosity and amusement as he sifted through the massive selection.
"I'm Nicole, by the way."
"Sean." He immediately went back to his task. "Ah! Here you go."
Nicole looked at the cover, then considered the back. "I've never really listened to their music."
He took a step backwards, as if she'd suddenly become hazardous material, and shook his head, his smile a teasing one. "And to think I was going to ask you for your number."
Nicole laughed. "So I shouldn't bother to give it to you then, huh?"
"It would be impolite of me not to accept it, besides I'm hoping you'll redeem yourself."
She took out her cell phone. "How 'bout we trade?"
"Sounds fair...on one condition though."
Her eyes became inquisitive.
"I don't want you calling me three times a day. I like to take things slow."
"It'll be hard, but I think I can manage," she retorted with laughter in her voice. She looked past his arm and he turned to see a young blonde watching them. Nicole nodded towards her. "I better go," she announced, her voice a bit reluctant.
Sean waved to the blonde stranger, causing her to duck her head in an endearing gesture. What was it about the shy ones?
"You don't want to introduce me to your friend? Very sneaky. I'll have to remember that about you." Her blue eyes flashed with humor and interest. "Save the witty comeback for another time, your friend's waiting."
"I'll give this a try and let you know how it goes."
"It was really nice meeting you, Sean. Bye," she said as she waved the CD in her hand, drawing out the moment.
"Bye." He remarked offhandedly and returned to browsing. He smiled when he caught Nicole and her friend looking back at him again.
"Wow. You're good!"
He turned around to meet a pair of mischievous brown eyes and a dimpled grin. A sudden, uncharacteristic bashfulness rendered him speechless. Maybe it was because he felt like a child caught in a naughty act. Or maybe it was because she was pretty. Pretty in an unconventional way, with golden skin that suggested a diverse heritage.
He walked over to the opposing shelving unit that stood between them. She was a study in restrained elegance, but for the wild, dark brown curls defying her sleek updo to frame her face. What eyes she had. "You're a nosy little thing, aren't you?"
She shrugged off his taunt, smirking. "I couldn't help it. You put on quite the show."
"So what do you have there?" She held up a CD.
The dimple reappeared. "Gee, thanks."
He craned his neck over their barricade "What else do you have there?" She raised a book over the ledge; he took it.
"The Essence of Chocolate," he said before leafing through the pages. "You must be an amazing cook or it's been a while since you had great sex." She gaped at him. "You don't need to answer; I can already tell which one it is." She looked flustered as color rushed to her face. Flustered and pretty.
"Give me back my book." The playful note in her voice had faded a bit. Did he unwittingly strike a very raw nerve? He got a perverse sense of delight in seeing how she handled being on the other side of an embarrassing moment.
"Come and get it then," he challenged softly as he walked to the end of his aisle. Her graceful stride allowed him time to enjoy her as she came into full view for the first time.
She was tall, but not Amazonian.