1 | When The Devil Comes Knocking |
“Not there.” Lacey Diaz grabbed the young man who was setting up the hors d'oeuvres and guided him to an adjacent table. “They go here. Over to the right a little. A little more. Yes that's good, perfect. We need plates. Daria!” Lacey pointed to a young woman hanging streamers. “Put the ice breaker cards on each table and don't forget the table clothes.”
“Hey Lace.” Rita slung her coat over the bar stool at the small bistro table as Lacey leaned into a cheek kiss from her best friend Rita.
“Ah ah Ree. Coat gets hung up.”
Rita curled her upper lip and threw her coat over her forearm. “Has anyone ever told you that you're bossy?”
“Everyday and I call them team members. You're late by the way. I need someone to finish lighting the candles on the table.”
“This is what you get for free labor lady, okay? 'Sides I had to get ready, all of this doesn’t just happen. And you mami. You need to loosen up." Rita looked around. "People are already starting to show up already? Is the thirst real or am I just being critical?”
“Rita Hernandez stop judging my fellow lonesome, hopeful souls and help me finish setting up.”
Rita shrugged. “Who would have thought this little singles thing would gain so much momentum.”
“Rumor has it that Claire Grier will stop through to write about it in Hot in Town magazine. So everything has to be perfect.”
Rita rolled her eyes. “Claire or no Claire you'd want everything to be perfect anyway. Since things are taking off sounds like somebody's paying my rent this month.”
“Do you have a sugar daddy I didn't know about?” Lacey fixed a streamed that was a little off center.
“A new sugar mama and her name starts with a 'L' and ends with an 'acey'.” Rita laughed bumping Lacey with her hip then strolled to the closet to hang her coat.
Almost an hour later Lacey was re-straightening up some messed up flyers when a commotion by the door caught her attention.
“You can't park your bike on the sidewalk!”
Lacey already knew who that voice belonged to. Maggie, the lady who owned the organic soaps store next door to the art gallery that Lacey held her Valentine's Day event. The first year, Maggie attended the singles Valentine's Day meet and greet and had a terrible experience with some guy who robbed her after they...were intimate. Been giving Lacey hell ever since.
“Then give me a ticket.”
A chill ran down Lacey's spine. She didn't know that voice. The entire room seemed to be at a stand still all eyes on the door.
“I'll do you one better. I'll have you towed!” Maggie didn't sound put off by the man's low menacing voice.
“You can try.”
Lacey still had her back to the door. She didn't want to see who that voice belonged to because she was sure her panties would dissolve. Lacey scolded herself. That is not something she would think. That's something Rita would think, say and then put into action. Lacey placed her hand on her chest and took a deep breath noticing she hadn't been breathing. Lacey got her mind right before turning toward the problem, she brushed her hands down her skirt and cleared her throat.
Lacey’s mouth went dry at the sight of the creature that was standing next to Maggie. Maybe a better word was towering over Maggie. He had to be well over six feet, dark short cropped hair, his eyes were shielded by his dark eyebrows. A five o'clock shadow brushed over his strong jawline a smirk pulled up the corner of his lips or was that a scowl? Black leather hugged every part of his lean form.
Lacey made her way to the pair throwing a confident smile to her uneasy guests. Before Lacey got to the door Lacey turned to the room.
“Please everyone carry on with your engrossing conversations. Just a little hiccup. ”
Conversation started buzzing around the room again, but Lacey could tell everyone's attention was on the conflict at the door. Or should she say the devil at the door. Lacey tried to ignore how god awfully handsome the man was. When his eyes settled on her a hot ball traced every inch of her skin leaving her feeling tingly all over.
Lacey cleared her throat.
“Maggie. Good to see you again.”
The woman scoffed crossing her arms over her chest. “You're the worst liar I know.”
“Oh come now Maggie, I invite you every year.” Lacey placed a hand on the small of Maggie’s back and led the woman further inside. Lacey glared back at the man intent on giving him a good tongue lashing momentarily. Lacey showed Maggie all the new things that were added since the woman last attended five years ago before introducing Maggie to an accountant that worked at the same company Lacey did.
Lacey wasn't sure how, but Maggie’s conversation took off with the accountant which was when Lacey saw fit to seek out her troublesome guest. It wasn't difficult to spot him with his height and that midnight hair.
The man caught Lacey's eyes and didn't look away. The woman he was talking to looked over her shoulder and saw Lacey, raised a well groomed eyebrow, and walked away.
Lacey stood toe to toe with the man and crossed her arms angling her face up to look him in the eyes. His gaze fell to her chest then his dark eyes met hers again mischief swimming in them.
“You don't look like the sort that would come to these things.”
“And what sort do I look like?” A smirk curled the corner of his lips.
Trouble. Damn sexy, would-never-even-think-of-mentioning-you-to-my-mother-trouble. “The sort that hangs out in a biker bar.”
The man smiled with just his lips and shrugged. “Not too far off.”
“What are you doing here Mr…?”
Lacey raised an eyebrow. “Cute. What's your real name?”
“Does it matter?”
Lacey frowned adjusting her weight in her stilettos. “Of course, all guests have to sign-” Lacey's breath caught in her throat when Mr. Sinn cleared the space between them in one step and pulled Lacey to him by the small of her back. She always thought of herself as a feminine woman. An independent and strong woman never inferior; however, in that moment she was too aware that he was man and she was woman. They were unequal and for some reason she felt like the rabbit and he was the fox.
He was so close she could smell the whisper on his skin that was his cologne as it soaked into the soft matter of her brain setting off every hormone she had that told her to taste every inch of this man's body.
“Devlin Sinn.” He whispered trailing a finger down her spine. Lacey shivered words having no place in her cluttered mind. “I came to fuck you.” Lacey pulled away meeting those dark eyes her eyebrows knit as she tried to understand what he was saying.
Lacey hated the desire that wound its way through her body. When his words found understanding Lacey slapped him across the face, turned and walked away.
Minutes later Lacey found herself pacing back and forth in the hall that led to the bathroom. When did she lose control here? This was absurd! She should have kicked his ass out the moment she saw him standing in the doorway arguing with Maggie.
Lacey stopped pacing, pasted on a fake smile and stood against the wall when three women funneled in the hallway and into the bathroom.
Lacey took a deep breath and headed back out into what felt like the wild unknown. The place was thick with people. Lacey stopped a server with a tray of hors d'oeuvres.
“Make sure you're rotating the trays. Don't leave the dairy out too long.”
The young man nodded and continued on his way. Lacey tried to stay focused on her hosting duties, but she found herself searching for the devilish man. Lacey retied a ribbon on the back of a chair, fixed a servers bow tie, and rearranged doylee coasters on six tables. Her mind was not on the tasks at hand. What were the odds of his name being the freaking king of everything bad and wicked and…
“Is there a Devlin Sinn on the list Connie?” Lacey was at the front now where a coworker volunteered to sign guests in and take the cash.
“Uh, just a minute.” Connie finished a transaction with three handsome well dressed men before pulling up the gusts list. “Oh, yep, right here.”
Lacey grunted. How dare he toss the rock in the pond. Coming right out and blurting out his intentions? It was insulting. Who did Devlin Sinn think he was? Like she was some slutty chick.
Lacey spotted Devlin standing at one of the bistro tables talking to a pretty blond woman. Lacey couldn't stand it any more. She loathed her feet that carried her over to him.
Lacey placed a flyer on the small bar height table that the blonde woman, who was talking to Devlin abandoned. “It’s obvious you’re on the prowl. How's the hunt going so far?”
Devlin adjusted his lean on the table with a shrug. “ ‘Pends.”
“On what?” Lacey chanced a glance at the man from under her lashes.
“Your answer to my proposal.”
“I thought my answer to your question, that wasn’t a question, was clear when I slapped you across the face.”
“I wouldn't call that an answer. I would call that a reaction.” Devlin adjusted him casual lean on the bistro table.
Lacey leaned closer to Devlin a mistake that she’d pay for later, and whisper her words with venomous calm. “What sort of woman do I look like?”
“You kind of look like a school teacher.” The Devil smiled his dark eyes dancing. “Nothing sexier than teaching an educator.”
Lacey’s buoyant chest enraged her. She pressed her finger on her collarbone hoping the heat she was feeling wasn’t showing on her skin. “You certainly aren't here looking for a relationship. You probably don't even believe in Valentine's Day do you?” Lacey changed the topic. She should have walked away and stayed away but she couldn't...or wouldn't….she wasn't sure.
“Oh, I believe that Valentine's Day is the most lucrative scam on the market. But hell, what better way to meet women who are already high on an illusion?”
Lacey frowned. “If you don't believe in Valentine's day then why are you here?”
“To tempt you with something tangible.”
Lacey smirked. She knew plenty of men like Devlin Sinn there was nothing different about him. “You're afraid of love aren't you, Devlin Sinn?”
“Nope.” He adjusted his lean on the table between them. “You hide behind it like it's some damn prince on a white horse come to rescue you. Ain't nothing but bullshit if I ain't smelled it before.”
“Hide?! I've no reason to be scared.”
“Sure you do.” He gestured around them. “Everything planned down to the tee. Every doylee, every ribbon, every streamer. You're afraid of being out of control.”
Lacey was surprised he knew the word doylee. “That's what love is being out of control and I love love.”
“You covet love, true. But it's more appealing from far away.” He picked up a doylee and turned it around in his fingers.
Lacey was mesmerized by the way his long digits manipulated the fine fabric. The white lace material a stark contrast to his tattooed hands that looked rough from hard labor. She spotted dirt under his nails. Probably oil from working on motor bikes. There was something off putting about a man who was pristine clean. This man before her was ever temptation she never knew existed and she hated the battle that was waging on inside of her.
Lacey frowned glaring at Devlin. “I don't like you Devlin Sinn.”
“I'm not asking you to like me.” His mischievous eyes met hers.
“You're asking me to sleep with you aren't you?”
“There won’t be much sleeping going on. I'm asking you to fuck me and liking and fucking aren't mutually exclusive.”
“They are for me!” Lacey could feel her face getting hot. Why did she allow him to make her so upset. Did relationships mean nothing to him? How could he be so casual? How could she invoke this raw, animalistic need in a man? Maybe he wasn’t a man at all. He certainly wasn’t like any man she ever encountered before. Men before Devlin treated Lacey like a prize to be won not prey to be taken, consumed, devoured.
“That's your problem always a convenient excuse.”
Lacey clenched her fists at her sides. She wasn't sure why his words were making her so angry. Perhaps it wasn’t his words but how her body reacted.
Devlin leaned in to whisper in Lacey's ear. “Let me taste you. Let me make you cum.”
Lacey gasped when Devlin intercepted her arm before she could make contact with his cheek again.
Those dark eyes challenged her. The man's dark hair and eyebrows a shadowed temptation.
Lacey glared back refusing to back down, refusing to let him win. “Let my hand go.”