Love, Unwanted (Discovering Love #3)

By: Ra Chael Ohara

He’s gorgeous, though. He’s the most handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes on. His short hair is so dark it’s almost black, and he has the most amazing piercing gray eyes. I can barely hold back the need to ask if putting those gauges in his ear hurts as bad as I think they would.

“You work here?” he says. The sound of his smooth voice startles me. When I look at his face again, I see he’s giving my clothes a once-over with a raised eyebrow.

“No,” I whisper. I blush and clear my throat when he gives me a peculiar look. “I don’t work here. I’m just helping.” He nods and looks around the small closet. He steps deeper into the room. “The bathroom isn’t in here,” I blurt.

He pauses and laughs. “Yeah, I can see that. Phoenix Castle.” He sticks his hand out. I’m instantly annoyed. It’s the way he said his name, like I’m supposed to swoon over him. “You are?”

“Not interested,” I deadpan. That’s not the complete truth. I just don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing what I think about him or about how nervous I am.

He raises his eyebrows, presumably out of show. I get the feeling my response to his charms isn’t the normal reaction he gets from women.

“That’s a unique name,” he jokes. Despite myself, I smile.

“Caroline Taylor,” I finally say.

“Now that’s a pretty name,” he says while taking a step closer. With him standing this close to me, the amazing scent of his cologne drifts in my nose and my senses go into overdrive.

He doesn’t scare me, but I still find myself wanting to take a step back. The only thing that stops me is I know I have nowhere to go.

“Hey, what’d the wine bottle ever do to you?” Phoenix asks. He pries the bottle out of my hands.

My heart begins to pound and a whooshing sound echoes in my ear when he takes the bottle and sets it on the shelf behind me. It was a seemingly innocent gesture, but it brought him close, so close that every time I take a breath, my breasts brush against his chiseled chest.

I can feel the heat of his stare and I make the grave mistake of looking up into his eyes. His curious gray eyes are now molten lava. I make another mistake when I poke out my tongue to lick my suddenly dry lips.

As soon as Phoenix tracks that movement with his eyes, he’s lowering his head. I do something that isn’t me, something I wouldn’t ever dream of doing. I close my eyes and lean toward him.

“Hey, darling, you almost done in here?” Violet says as she opens the door to the closet. Mortified, I turn to her and see her smirking. “Oh shite, sorry!”

What the hell am I doing? About to make out with a tattooed stranger, that’s what.

I’m so embarrassed that I don’t make eye contact with Phoenix or Violet before rushing out of the closet. I’m only a few steps out of the closet when I run into someone.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry!” I blurt once I catch my footing. I look up to see who I ran into. She’s a very tall, very thin, and very blonde woman. And she’s not happy.

“Watch where you’re going. You spilled my drink all over me!” she screeches.

I look down at the white shirt she’s wearing and see literally a drop of wine from her glass on her. Dramatic much? Unfortunately, before I can think better of it, I say, “Seriously? You have one drop on you,” I mutter.

She throws the rest of her wine in my face. Now it’s my turn to screech.

“Bitch,” she hisses. Just like in the movies, the whole pub goes silent. I’m speechless. I’ve never been treated like this, much less by a stranger.

As if being humiliated in front of a room full of strangers wasn’t bad enough, Phoenix and Violet choose this moment to walk out of the back hall. “What the fuck is going on here?” he roars when he sees my wine-drenched face and blouse.

He comes to stand between the girl and me after grabbing a towel off the bar. “She pushed me, baby,” the blonde whines in a nasally voice. Girlfriend. The asshole has a girlfriend and he was two seconds away from kissing me in that closet.

“Are you okay?” Phoenix asks sincerely and holds out the towel for me. I don’t take it and I don’t answer him. I’m too busy looking at all the patrons who are staring at me.

My eyes water with hot, embarrassed tears and all I want to do is get out of this bar and back in the comfort of my own home. Without another word to anyone, I rush out of the pub.

“Caroline, wait!” I hear Phoenix call to my back as soon as I’m on the street, hailing a cab.

“Look, I’m sorry about your girlfriend. It was an accident,” I choke out.

“Hey!” he says softly before grabbing my arm and turning me around to face him. “Marcy is not my girlfriend. She’s a bitch and I’m not out here because of her. I’m out here to check on you. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I just need to get home.”

“Okay, then let me take you home.”

“No!” I say a little too forcefully. “I can take a cab.”

“Okay.” It’s easy to see that he’s disappointed with my answer. “Well, can I have your number?”

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