"I like a woman with manners. And Summer is a beautiful name. How fitting," Johnny purred. He could have been old enough to be my dad, and the flirting was legitimately creepy but seemed harmless enough. Besides, I needed information, and pissing off my new source wouldn"t get me far on my first day in this small town.
"First of all, Johnny, thanks for the beer. And second of all, who is that um"" I racked my brains for an appropriate word. To outright admit he was droolingly hot was out of the question. Thankfully, I found my tongue again. "That young gentleman, sitting alone by the window""
Johnny smirked at me, reading straight past my question. He leaned in, and I caught a draft of sweat and nicotine. I tried not to jerk away and instead breathed in through my mouth. I waited.
"That fellow there is John Doe."
My eyebrows perked up. "As in, a stranger with no name""
"Yup. A suspicious fella, if you ask me. Came round here about a year ago, keeps to himself mostly. He don"t talk much." Johnny was warming to his story, as his brown eyes gleamed with opportunity.
"How does a man keep to himself in such a small town"" I pressed for answers.
"We"ve all heard about his ways. He once rescued a kid from being trampled by a horse. Even helped out Mary White when her Jeep got stuck in the bad floods a couple months back. Funny thing is, he helps out all right but then disappears just as quick. Like a ghost almost." I caught the edge of intrigue in Johnny"s voice.
The stormy stranger with no name at least had one admirer, by the sounds of it.
I turned my head around, as subtly as I could, and caught his burning glare boring into me.
It was almost as if he had sussed everything out.
He took a swig from his beer and then licked his lips, his blue eyes casting death my way.
Fire shot up my pussy, flooding me with that tingling heat.
I sucked my breath in, yet continued on, determined not to shirk away from this staring duel. Unbeknownst to this mysterious man, I was ridiculously good at this game, having played it with my brother as a child.
I stared back, eyes narrowed, and his expression changed from anger, to astonishment, and was that a hint of amusement"
But no, it couldn"t be, because the mask was back just as quickly. Finally, he turned away from me, and I wanted to pump my fist in the air. Yes, I had prevailed against all odds.
I shifted back around to face the bar again.
Johnny smiled from ear to ear, waggling his head. "Looks like you charmed the underpants off of that fella."
I twisted away from Johnny"s stare, feigning interest in my bracelet.
"So, what"s a young woman like you doing out here"" It was as if the tables had shifted, and Johnny was playing the investigator now. Bartenders could be resourceful, especially in small towns like Dripping Springs, so I"d be honest with him.
"I"m actually here for a story. I"m documenting the cattle ranch industry in Texas, as well as looking at the whole idea of ethical meat consumption, and whether there is such a thing."
Johnny"s eyes lit up again. "No way, a journalist" Well, sweetie, you"ve come to the right place, I can tell you that. Rumor has it that fella over there owns a plot of land a couple of miles out back. Could point you in the right direction"" Johnny poured himself a whisky shot, and quick as a fox, he downed the drink in one loud gulp.
Bartenders had it easy.
Looked like my luck was turning around in this town after all. I threw a hasty thanks Johnny"s way, scooted off my stool, and cracked my knuckles.
It was show time.
The handsome stranger might have some answers that could hopefully lead me to a prospective cattle ranch owner. Then I could get started on this story. Envisioning myself getting to the heart of the scoop set my heart on fire.
My dreams were so close to becoming a reality they hovered over me, within reach.
Eyes fixed straight ahead on my target, I strode over to him, but he was one step ahead of me.
He rose from his chair, a tall mass of poise and hotness. He set his empty bottle on the table, then pushed his way through to the door and disappeared. A ghost, all right.
And there I was, standing like an idiot in the middle of the bar, speechless with legs quivering like jelly. Mission definitely not accomplished.
One thing was certain. His effect on me was dangerous. And if I wanted to get ahead, I"d have to learn to deal with it.
The scorching sun beat down on my back, heat sinking into my skin and sending a fresh wave of sweat down the back of my neck.