Fuck.

Sheena is currently bent backwards over the top of the bar. Her tits are practically hanging out, and she's letting the bartender pour shots of tequila down her throat.

Christ. This isn't a college frat party. It’s an exclusive black-tie affair for millionaires and politicians and the nation's leading entrepreneurs. We're here for an important cause, not to get wasted and dance on the damn bar. But something tells me my date doesn't get that.

I don’t often feel embarrassed, and shit, I love to cut loose and have fun as much as anyone, but this is not the time, nor the place. My face flushes slightly and I clench my jaw.

I like a woman who knows how to handle herself – someone poised and put together when she needs to be and freaky as hell in between the sheets. My eyes find Kylie's and something tells me she'd be that kind of woman.

"Yeah, Sheena's fun," I say, clenching my fists in an attempt to hide my true feelings.

Kylie frowns. "I introduced myself to her earlier, and she said her name was Trina."

"Shit. Is it?" I rub a hand through my hair. The look in her eyes tells me this is a piece of information I should have known.

Sophie excuses herself a moment later, and I'm thankful for the private moment with Kylie.

"Can I get you something else to drink?" I offer, tossing her a flirty grin.

Her answering smile is coy, guarded. "Shouldn’t you be getting back to your date?"

A quick look over my shoulder at Sheena, or Trina, or whoever the hell she is, tells me I have no desire to spend any more time with her. In contrast to the beautiful woman standing before me, my date is all but forgotten. I might have thought she was sexy before, but now, I'm seeing her more clearly. Her dress is too short and her breasts are too big, even for my sizeable hands, while Kylie, in comparison, is perfectly proportioned–soft and curvy–just like a woman should be. I wouldn’t mind devoting hours to exploring the valleys of her body. With my tongue. And my cock. The bastard throbs at the thought.

"She looks pretty well taken care of right now," I remark.

The bartender is all but ignoring the other customers in his eagerness to talk to her. He can have her for all I care. Good luck, buddy.

Kylie sets down her empty wine glass on the tray of a passing waiter. "I'm actually not much of a drinker. A glass of wine or two is generally my limit."

Good to know. I file that information away. Remembering her kid, I ask about him. "Where's Max tonight?"

She smiles lightly as though thinking about her baby brightens her mood. I like that, and I don't have a frigging clue why. "His nanny stayed late tonight. I'm sure he's in bed by now."

I still recall that day in the pool last summer when I'd taken the crying baby from her and entertained him all afternoon. I couldn't even be sure why I'd done it. I suppose, looking back, she just looked like she could use a hand. I've never liked seeing a woman struggle. Although a damsel in distress, she is not. I get the sense she's not the type to back down from a challenge and has enough strength and determination to succeed at just about anything she tried. A sexy quality, to be sure.

As we stand there, me sipping my bourbon, and Kylie grinning politely at the crowd, the silence between us grows. I feel like we have nothing in common, and I'm at a loss, trying to think of something to say, anything that will keep this beauty in my presence. There are so many things I want to know about her, but none of them are any of my goddamn business. How she tastes, what noises she makes when she comes. I also want to know how she ended up a single mother, and if Max's dad is still in the picture. I tried asking Colton about it once, but he remained incredibly vague. The asshat. If there was a worst wingman award, it would go to my brother.

"Have dinner with me this week," I say. It wasn't what I'd been planning to say, but once the words leave my mouth, they feel right.

"Pace, that's sweet of you to ask, but I can't…" She pauses, like she wants to say more, but doesn't. Her body language is all wrong too. Where women are normally vying to get closer, placing their hand on my bicep, or even brushing their breasts against my arm, Kylie stands straight and tall, like she wants to avoid physical contact at all costs.

"Are you here with someone?" I ask. It's also absolutely none of my business, but I'd happily shell out ten grand just to find out if she's fucking someone.

"No," she confirms.

"No boyfriend?" I press further. I need to know what I'm up against.

"There's been no one since Max's father," she says quietly.

My inner alpha male beats on his chest in triumph. "That's quite a dry spell."

"Indeed," she murmurs.

"It's just dinner, Kylie. It's not like I'm offering to step in and play daddy." I treat her to a playful, crooked smile, my dimple out in full force. I've heard it's quite irresistible and that's what I'm banking on.

"That's exactly why I can't. I'm sorry."

Fuck. Why am I such a fucking idiot?

"Oh," I stammer, at a loss for words for the first damn time in my life. Christ. Grow a pair, Pace.

"Besides, something tells me if you're interested in a woman like that," Kylie tips her chin toward the bar where Sheena, or Trina, is making a spectacle of herself, "you can't possibly be interested in a woman like me."

Hold the fuck on. Now that's where she's wrong. "Why's that?" I ask, meeting her fiery green gaze. If she's about to criticize herself, I will not hold back in proving to her how very wrong she is.

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