Hope you enjoy this scene where Mia and Lucas meet told from Lucas’s point of view. I loved going back to The Beaver (haha) and revisiting the night they met from his perspective.
The girl burst through the door like a racehorse across the finish line, and she looked just as wild-eyed and determined. Her chestnut hair reminded me of a horse’s mane too, wind-mussed and untamed, although I didn’t think that was a comparison a pretty girl would appreciate. And damn, this girl was pretty. More than pretty.
Standing still, she scanned the bar with a penetrating gaze, her eyes narrowing as she took in the scene—a few tables of people watching television in the back, a few patrons along the bar up front. She was clearly looking for someone, probably a guy, judging from the way she was scoping the joint. Like a woman hoping to catch her lover in a compromising position.
Picking up a towel, I began drying the tall beer glass in my hand, hoping she wouldn’t turn around and walk out if she discovered the guy wasn’t here. She had to be American. It was something about the way she stood, with her shoulders back and her chin up, a don’t-fuck-with-me look on her face. She was breathing a little heavy too, and the whole package was enough to increase the blood flow to strategic parts of my anatomy. I had to speak to her.
“You looking for someone?”
She whipped her head toward me, challenging me with light green eyes. It took her a moment to answer. “I’m sorry, what?”
God, she was beautiful. “You had a very determined expression on your face. Are you looking for someone?”
Her face screwed up. “How did you know I spoke English?”
Was she serious? How cute. “I know an American when I see one.”
Right away I could see the comment irritated her. She parked her hands on her hips and blew a strand of that messy hair out of her face. “I could be Canadian.”
Oh, she was so American. “Nah.” I set the glass down, enjoying the way my comments were riling her.
“What makes you so sure?”
I shrugged. “A Canadian would’ve just answered the question.”
She dropped her hands and stood a little prouder, thrusting her chest forward in the process, her little denim jacket opening up. My eyes went south immediately—she had perfect round breasts, not too big, not too small, the tops swelling above the strapless neckline of her blue flowered dress. Don’t stare at her tits, asshole. I looked up again to see her appraising me carefully, and I was glad to be standing behind the bar so she couldn’t see the semi in my pants.
“No, I am not looking for anyone,” she said flatly.
“Oh. The way you were scavenging the crowd with those big eyes, I thought maybe you were here to catch your boyfriend with somebody else.”
“I do not have a boyfriend!”
Her outburst had me lifting my hands in a gesture of peace, but I couldn’t resist poking at her a little more. “Sorry. Or girlfriend, whatever. I just meant you looked like you knew what you came in for, but it wasn’t a good time.”
“For your information, that is exactly what I came in for.” She stomped over to the closest barstool and slid onto it, a frown on her face. “And no, I don’t have a girlfriend either. I’m alone. Alone.” She repeated the word loudly, throwing dagger eyes toward the guys sitting to her right. One got up and moved to the next stool down. “Is that OK with you?”
Jesus, this girl needs a drink. “Love, it’s all OK with me. Why don’t you tell me what you want to drink?”
“Don’t use that word.”
“Love,” she said distastefully, the word bitter on her tongue.
“Sorry, I just haven’t learned your name yet.”
She shook her head. “That’s not what I meant. I don’t care what you call me, I just don’t want to hear any more about love tonight, or see it, or smell it in the goddamn air.”
So that’s it. “That bad, huh?”
“Yes. That’s what I was doing when I came in, making sure there were no obvious couples in love in here.” She threw a hand in the air. “They’re fucking everywhere in this city. You can’t even walk down the street without seeing people hanging all over each other, kissing and hugging and being fucking happy together. It’s like a crime to walk down the street alone.”
“There’s plenty of people alone here.”
She grimaced. “Not that I’ve seen.”
I shrugged. “Well, Paris is a romantic place.”
She leveled me with a fuck-you stare. “Paris can kiss my ass.”
God, what a firecracker. I was enjoying this way too much and didn’t want her to leave. “Why don’t I get you a drink, um…”
“I’m Lucas.” I offered my hand and she took it, giving it one firm shake before settling her chin on her palm. ”So what’s your pleasure, Mia?”
She frowned, and even that was adorable. I liked how her bottom lip was a little fuller than the top. “A plane ticket back to Detroit. I want to go home.”
My spirits flagged a little, but not my erection. “Well. Can’t help you there, but I bet you can grab a flight tomorrow. And since it’s your last night in Paris, let me pour you a glass of wine.”
“It’s my first night in Paris,” she said miserably, and I worried for a moment she might cry. “And my last.”
What the hell? Someone had really done a number on this girl. Had she been deserted in Paris? “In that case, the wine’s on me. Hang on.”
I poured her a glass of wine, pausing briefly to fill a few drink orders and greet a couple regulars. I could tell she was looking at me, and I lingered at the far end of the bar with my back to her, giving my dick time to recover from the sight of her. After a few minutes, I felt like I could turn around without being indecent, so I picked up her glass and brought it to her. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” The smile she gave me was so pitiful, I winced.
“Jesus Christ, Mia. It can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, yes it can.”
I leaned onto the bar in front of her. “Try me.”
She took a deep breath. “OK. But wine first.” She brought the glass to her lips, which were plump and adorable and not covered in goopy lipstick. I liked the way she took a big sip and let it linger in her mouth a little before swallowing. Fuck, I was getting turned on again.
“This is incredible.” Her face lit up for the first time since she’d come in.
I smiled at her. “I’m glad you like it.”
She took a few more sips before setting the glass down and staring at her fingers on the stem. The pout on her lips made me want to kiss them. “This trip to Paris was supposed to be my honeymoon. But my fiancé called off the wedding.”
Oh, shit. I had no idea what to say, so I just walked to the end of the bar, retrieved the wine bottle, and topped off her glass.
She looked up with wide, grateful eyes. “Thanks. It’s been rough.”
“I’m sorry. Was it a total shock?”
She sighed. “Yes and no. If I’d been honest with myself, I think I would’ve realized that things weren’t perfect. But I was so caught up in planning the perfect wedding that I didn’t want to admit the marriage might be a mistake.”
I thought marriage was pretty much always a mistake, but I didn’t think it would help her to hear that. “Did he give you a reason? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry.”
“It’s OK.” She paused to sip her wine. “It’s nothing earth-shattering, really. He said he loved me, but that he wasn’t ready to get married yet.”
I wondered how old she was—she didn’t look much older than twenty-five or so. Why the hell would anyone want to get married that young? “And you were?”
“Sure. I mean, I’m twenty-seven, almost twenty-eight. I’ve always planned on being married by that age, and, you know…” She shrugged. “We were in love. We were the perfect couple.”
Was she hearing what she said? It was fucking nuts. “Clearly.”
That pissed her off. “All I meant was I thought we were a good match at the time. I could totally see our life together.”
Oh, she was one of those girls. “You had that all planned out too, huh?”
Her spine snapped straight in irritation, and I was about to apologize but heard my name being called down by the register. Why are you even bothering with her? She’s hung up on some other guy and on the idea of getting married—you don’t need any part of that.
But as I filled some drink orders and chatted with a few friends, I peeked at her a few times. She looked so miserable and lost, sitting there with her rapidly diminishing glass of wine. Good wine can help many a crap situation, but this girl needed more than that. She needed a friend.
An idea popped into my head—what if I offered to spend tomorrow afternoon with her? Just show her around a little bit so she didn’t feel so alone?
Immediately my gut instincts shut that idea down. No. Forget that girl. She’s beautiful, but she’s not right in the head. Plus she’d be all vulnerable and shit. Something could happen and then you’d have made it even worse.
I made up my mind to stay away.
The bar was getting busy, but when I saw her pull a tissue out of her bag and dab at her eyes, I snagged the wine bottle and refilled her glass. She drank that one pretty quickly too, and it seemed to perk her up. I couldn’t stop glancing at her, thinking about her. There was something about her I liked—I didn’t want her to leave Paris thinking it was a miserable, lonely place.
She waved me over, credit card in her hand.
But I didn’t want her to go.
“Give me one second,” I said, filling a glass at the tap. “Don’t go anywhere.”
She didn’t look too thrilled about waiting for me, but didn’t argue.
“Sorry about that.” I approached her again. “Can I pour you another glass?”
She bit her lip. Fuck, that was adorable. “I probably shouldn’t. It’s really good, though. What is it?”
“It’s a wine from the Rhône Valley, where I’m from.”
Her face lit up a little. “I wondered if you were French. You speak English so well, you could almost pass for American.”
“French mom, American dad. I was born here but raised in both places.” I was surprised she was interested, but she kept asking about me.
“Where in the U.S did you live?”
“In upstate New York mostly, but I live in the city now.”
She smiled with perfect white teeth, although her lips were a little stained from the ruby wine. “I love New York City. But I hate flying, and New York’s a long drive from Detroit.”
I crossed my arms. “You hate flying, yet you want to get on another plane first thing in the morning?”
“I have to,” she insisted.
“No, you don’t.”
Her chin jutted. “Yes, I do. You don’t understand.”
“Sure I do. Your fiancé called off the wedding and you’re angry and sad or whatever because you’re getting close to your marriage deadline or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time here. You came all this way, even though you hate to fly. There must have been a reason.” I was trying to help her see that she was being ridiculous and should stay in Paris, but right away I saw that I’d only aggravated her further. Shit.
She sat up taller and spoke with an edge to her voice. “The reason was that I’ve always wanted to see Paris. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I had every day planned out, I knew exactly what we would do, the things we would see. And I thought I could handle it on my own, but now that I’m here, I can’t, OK? I can’t handle all the love and romance and fucking happiness all around me when I was supposed to be here on my honeymoon! It isn’t fair!”
Not fair? She sounded like a toddler. “Lots of things in life aren’t fair. Doesn’t matter what city you’re in.”
She rolled her eyes. “Spare me the platitudes. I’ve heard a boatload of them in the week since I was unceremoniously dumped—via text message, mind you—seven days before my goddamn wedding.”
Oh, man. This girl needed help. “You’ve got a problem.”
“Yes. My problem is that I’m on my honeymoon, alone.”
“That’s not your problem.”
Her jaw practically hit the bar. She was so stunned she didn’t even argue, and I knew I was being kind of an asshole, but I couldn’t help it. This girl had everything going for her and couldn’t get over that one thing didn’t go her way—she hadn’t even said she still loved the guy, only that she was mad he ruined her plans. So even though I thought she might get up and walk out, I went on.
“Your problem is that you thought things were going to be one way and they’re not. You’re not even telling me you miss the guy who was supposed to be here with you. You just don’t want to be here alone because that wasn’t the plan.”
“That is not what I said!” she yelled, her face coloring.
I laughed. “That’s exactly what you said.”
“Well…” She flapped her hands above the bar. “That’s not what I meant. I’m flustered. And drunk.”
And gorgeous. And feisty. And the more I talked to her, the more I wanted to make her feel better, convince her to stay here and hang out with me. But something told me straight sympathy wouldn’t work—this girl was stronger than she realized and needed a little tough love. “So you do miss him? Because I don’t see a heartbroken girl here in front of me. I see someone who’s angry that her relationship ended badly mostly because it ruined an idea she had about the perfect life. And she flew all the way here, but even Paris isn’t enough to distract her from the fact she didn’t get exactly what she wanted when she wanted it.”
“It was more than an idea! It was real. At least, it felt real…most of the time. But what do I know?”
Her voice had quieted as the fight left her body, and I let up a little. “Want to know what I think?”
I held up my hands. “Fair enough.”
She snapped her credit card onto the bar. “I want to pay my bill and leave.”
Fuck. “The wine is on the house.”
“Because you feel sorry for me?” she snapped.
Stop. Tread softer. “Yes. Originally, I felt sorry for you because some asshole treated you wrong. But now that I know a little more, I think he did you a big favor. Now I feel sorry for you because you’re going to let one bad day ruin a dream that you’ve had for such a long time. You know, if you leave tomorrow, I bet you never come back. I bet you’ll always think of Paris as a miserable, lonely place.”
She opened her mouth like she was about to tell me to go to hell, but then closed it again.
Tell her now. Don’t let her go. “But I’d also bet you’re stronger than you think.”
Her eyes got suspicious. “Were you a psych major or something?”
Ha—busted. I grinned at her. “Double major—music and psychology. Graduate degree in psych. Look, I know we just met, and I do tend to analyze people and open my big mouth when I should probably just keep my opinion to myself. But when you walked in here alone and looked around, I thought, There is a woman who knows what she wants. That confidence is sexy.”
“But I’m not confident,” she whined, looking at her fingers.
“Yes, you are. You’re just a little scared right now.”
She sighed and looked up at me again. “You argue with everything I say. It’s really annoying.”
I fought off a laugh and remembered the offer I’d wanted to make. “Sorry. Let me make it up to you.”
“Well, let’s make a deal. You agree to give Paris one more day, and I’ll agree to spend the day being your tour guide—no psycho-analysis, I promise. If you’re still miserable even when you have a friend by your side, you can grab a flight home the next day. I’ll even call the airline for you.”
She looked dubious. “A friend, huh?”
You want to be more than friendly? We can do that too. “You think about it.” I turned away from her and filled a few drink orders at the bar, trying not to let the thought of being more-than-friendly with her take over my brain. Or my body.
The next time I saw her, she was standing next to her seat, looking a hundred times more sure of herself.
She held up two fingers. “I have two conditions.”
I folded my arms across his chest, trying not to grin. “Name them.”
“You have to quit arguing with everything I say about myself. You don’t even know me.”
I couldn’t resist. “Yes, I do.” At her outraged intake of breath, I burst out laughing. “Sorry. But you’re cute when you’re mad, you know. It’s going to be hard for me to resist poking at you just a little.”
Her pretty round mouth hung open a moment while she appeared to decide whether she should be offended that I’d flirted with her. And maybe I shouldn’t have said it, but damn, I was attracted to her. And life is short.
The other bartender called to me, and I held up one finger over my shoulder to put him off a moment. “So? What’s the second condition?”
“There must be wine.”
She put out her hand, and instinctively I pulled her toward me and leaned over the bar, kissing each of her warm cheeks once and then the first one again. The feel of her skin under my lips sent blood rushing to my dick again. Fuck, I was going to have to work very hard to keep my thoughts to myself tomorrow. She’d agreed to spend the day with me, but she hadn’t given me any indication she was interested in messing around.
Be a gentleman, Lucas. No tying her up on the first date.
Ahem. What was I saying? Oh, right.
“Nice to meet you, Mia. Welcome to Paris.”