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“Aw, seriously?”

“Seriously. I made an appearance, rubbed elbows, and now a little time in my easy chair with one more of these” ? I raised my glass ? “is sounding about right. Got a new apartment to break-in, after all.”

“That’s about as boring as I’d expect from a man of a certain age.” He turned his attention to the crowd. “But this is a rare chance, lad. You’ve got plenty of single women here who’d kill for a chance to be with someone like you.”

“Someone like me?”

“You know, a, ah, handsome doctor-type.”

I chuckled. “Finn, is there…anything you want to say to me?”

He laughed, reaching over, and giving me a punch to the arm.

“Funny, jackass. Anyway, you’ve got a party that happens once a damn year, if that, and if you’re even thinking about dating, this is the night to look for someone. The masks, silly as they might be, are perfect – kinda sexy, a little mysterious. Just the thing to get the ladies in the mood for…”

He went on, but I was suddenly distracted.

The woman was so damn beautiful that it hurt just to look at her.

She was tall and curvy, with wavy, sun-kissed blonde hair that was tied up above her head, tendrils hanging down over the purple and silver mask that hid most of her face. Still, I could make out her ice-blue eyes, slim nose, and full, plump lips.

Her dress was dark green, cut low enough to hint at her full breasts, the fabric clinging to her body like it was made for her alone. She moved slowly, with grace and ease, the sly smile on her lips suggesting that she felt right at home at a party like this.

“It won’t kill you to go out on a date. Just one! I’m telling you, finding the right woman, starting a family with her…there’s nothing like it. I mean, you already know this, but it kills me to think that you might spend the rest of your life alone, Noah.”


Finn was still going on, bless his heart, but my attention was totally captured by the woman. She stepped through the crowd, her hips swaying, her curves enough to make my cock move in my tuxedo pants.

I wanted her like mad.

The feeling of wanting was overwhelming. I scanned my memory, trying to come up with the last time I’d felt this way about anyone. I couldn’t – aside from Saoirse, that is.

She chatted here and there with some of the guests, not showing the slightest bit of apprehension or fear in striking up a conversation with the elite attending the party.

It was almost hypnotic to watch her. She moved slowly, but purposefully like she wasn’t in any kind of hurry. Her warm, genuine smile lit up her gorgeous features as she spoke.

Finn went on. “I know it sounds hard and you feel like you’re abandoning Saoirse. But I’m telling you – no one is going to think that. Then again, you’ve always been the type of man to do whatever you want, regardless of what anyone else thinks. All the same…”

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My inclination to leave the party and go home had vanished. All I wanted now was to speak to her, whoever she was. I took a sip of my drink and prepared to break away from Finn.

Before I got the chance, however, a man stepped out of the crowd and approached her. Her face sank as soon as she laid eyes on him. The man moved in, cutting the distance between the two of them and speaking closely in her ear.

It was clear she didn’t want anything to do with this man. She turned her body in an attempt to move away from him, but he didn’t let her. Instead, his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. She tried to pull her hand back, but it was no use.

The back of my neck went aflame, my blood pulsing hard.

“Anyway,” Finn said, “just give it a bloody shot. What’s the worst—”

“Be right back.”


I didn’t stick around to answer him. Instead, I casually strode toward the couple. It took a little weaving through the crowd until I was close enough to hear them talk.

“Seriously, Tyler,” she said. “You’re not getting the hint.” There was no fear in her voice. The man might’ve had her by the wrist, but she wasn’t scared.

“You’re being a tease,” the man said. “It’s so obvious.”

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