Page 4 of Closer

So before I can change my mind I start up the car and drive to the movie theater, even though it’s still early. There’s no sense in overthinking this. It’s just a blind date. And at least with a movie, I won’t have to talk much. Thank god for small blessings.

I arrive outside the venue before any of the others and lean against the wall, my hands deep in the pockets of my jeans. I pray Hillary and Randy arrive before Amy does, to save us from awkward small talk. That stuff will kill you, and I’m not even sure I know how to do it anymore.

A few minutes pass when I hear the ticking of heels on concrete coming closer and turn my head to find myself eye to eye with a curvy brunette with alabaster skin, a round angelic face with huge brown eyes. She looks at me, smiling shyly.

“Brent?” she murmurs, confusing me.

“Unnnh?” I answer stupidly.

She smiles again and my heart literally contracts.

“I’m Janie, your date for tonight. Amy’s sick and she’s asked me to come instead,” she explains apologetically, cheeks flushing. I straighten immediately, taking my hands out of my pockets. Shit, she’s curvy and wide, and I tower over the small woman. She looks up at me like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Is that okay?” she whispers. “I know I’m not what you were expecting.”

The words are true, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Because this woman is exactly my type … and suddenly the night just got ten times hotter.

Chapter 3

JANIE

He’s got to be at least six foot three, and built like – well, a soldier. Brent’s body is amazing, with broad shoulders and a ridiculously muscular chest under the v-neck. He’s got bulging biceps and long, strong legs that look like they could run ten miles without breaking a sweat. I’m reminded of the Ken dolls I used to have as a little girl because he’s that perfect.

But that’s where the resemblance ends. Because instead of plastic blonde hair and a corny smile, Brent’s face is more ruggedly chiseled and handsome. His strong jaw is covered with a black stubble, and those lips are molded in a way that’s both masculine and sensitive at once. But it’s his eyes that do me in because once our gazes meet, I feel that the man can see right into my soul.

Stop it Janie, the voice in my head scolds. Are you insane? You don’t know this guy from the nearest Tom, Dick, or Harry. You’ve been reading too many romance novels and it’s gotten to you.

But it’s true. There’s something about this man that’s absolutely magnetic. When I walked up to him, my breath caught in my chest because he was too gorgeous. How was I supposed to spend an evening with this male and act normal? It’s impossible, and yet the Earth keeps turning like my world hasn’t been flipped upside down.

“Hey,” Brent says simply, extending his hand.

“Um hi,” I stammer like a fool, shaking his huge fist. I’m in a trance, my eyes unable to break away from his, which look at me with something indefinable. What is it? There’s a gleam and a flash, but then his eyes grow shuttered.

“Nice to meet you,” he says in a deep voice. Shivers snake down my spine and my insides turn to jelly.

Stop it! the voice in my head speaks again. You’re acting like a junior high girl meeting her boyband hero. Get with it!

So I take a deep breath and try to appear composed.

“Nice to meet you too,” I answer. And to my surprise, our hands are still clasped from shaking. Is that supposed to happen? My cheeks go hot and I gasp instinctively. Brent’s so tall, so gorgeous, and somehow so… gentle? Is that the word? It doesn’t suit his frame, but it is what it is. I suddenly imagine him in a war-torn country, crouched in some shelter, covered in dust and sand, and I feel a piercing stab in my gut.

Before I can stop myself, I’m whispering, “Thank you for your service.” The sternness in his face lifts, and his eyes are surprised, like he’s caught off-guard. But the man nods gruffly.

“Sure,” he says in a deep growl. “Happy to serve.”

He finally lets go of my hand, and looks away, breaking the spell. I close my eyes in embarrassment. That was clearly the wrong thing to say. Oof. Stuck my foot in my mouth again.

“I hope Amy’s okay?” he asks casually, thrusting his hands into his pockets.

“Um, well, she’s got the flu, but she’ll be okay soon,” I answer. I guess we’re making small talk like normal people. Just as I think that, he lifts his gaze back to my face, looking into my eyes again. No, not small talk after all. Not from the way he’s looking at me, those blue eyes going almost black for some reason another. He swallows, taking a moment, like he’s deciding something.

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