The people in the place were completely oblivious to the fact that illegal gambling tournaments happened right under their noses, every day. Ray had to have a special key to get into the room, not to mention the money to afford the buy-in at the table. How he had gotten it was beyond me. Apparently tonight hadn’t been his first night, but it was the first time he’d taken me along.
He’d promised drinks at a nice bar, which, in fairness, they’d had in the back, and dinner at a fancy restaurant, which I hadn’t had. None of his promises included a night with an absolute stranger.
My stomach growled at the thought of food and I clenched my abdominals, praying he wouldn’t hear it. He maneuvered me through the crowds, his arm dropping to my waist, his fingers pressing in slightly as if to hold me in place. Not that I was going anywhere; I was far too terrified.
As our pathway narrowed, he placed me behind him, using his body as a shield. Just as we reached the doors he stopped suddenly, and I almost walked straight into the back of him, only just managing to save myself the embarrassment. While I rocked back on my heels, he turned and pulled us into a small alcove off to the side, lit by a small wall lamp. In the low light I was able to see his sharp features for the first time and was struck by how classically handsome he was.
“Miller,” he said simply.
I waited for him to elaborate but he said nothing else, choosing instead to stare at me as if I were some kind of exhibit. I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of self-consciousness. Closing my eyes, I felt rather than saw his eyes travel over me, my body fighting to suppress a shudder under his scrutiny. When moments of silence had passed he said, “Miller Hawes. In case you were wondering what name to call out later.”
Had he just assumed I’d be climbing in his bed tonight?
No reason to piss him off right now, Theresa. Tell him your name.
“Theresa,” I replied.
“Theresa,” he said quietly, as if to himself. Almost like he was testing the sound of my name on his lips. Another moment passed before he nodded once and then we were moving again, this time out of the door and into the cool night air.
We walked to a semi-private parking spot close to the front. There sat a sleek, black sports car, likely more expensive then everything I’d ever owned put together.
Miller let go of my arm and opened the door. “How does Italian sound?”
“I love Italian.” My voice didn’t have its normal strength but I wasn’t lying. Whether I liked it or not, I was stuck with him for the rest of the night and I needed to find a way to make the best of the situation.
The door closed behind me. Miller walked around the front of the car, his movements sleek, graceful, like that of a panther. In the wild, the smooth demeanor could make one forget the danger the panther posed. Many a prey had fallen victim to the panther’s spell, mesmerized by the hypnotic way they prowled. I’d do best to remember that tonight, in this scenario, Miller was the predator, and I was most definitely his prey.
Miller started the engine and I forced myself to keep my eyes focused on the road ahead of me. There was no doubt he was attractive, not that attractive was a good description, gorgeous fit better. But I didn’t need to give him any ideas by checking him out on the drive to the restaurant. I was in way over my head already.
“Why are you nervous?” His voice pulled me out of my thoughts. I glanced over and noticed him peeking at me out of the corner of his eye.
“I’m not.” I lifted my chin and pursed my lips. We both knew that wasn’t true, but I refused to sound weak in front of him.
“Then why is your leg bouncing up and down? Not to mention you keep fidgeting with the strap of your purse.”