“This is your first time coming to this, isn’t it? I don’t remember seeing you last year.”
That cute smirk alone is enough to turn a shitty day into a pile of sweetness. He is intimidating, sexy, and adorable, all in one fell swoop. Despite that, I can’t take advantage of this prime opportunity to ask him for the meaning behind his literally animated response to my dress online or his verbal one from a short time ago. The Greer of old would have just said what was on her mind. This new Greer is suddenly too shy.
Ultimately, I have this innate fear of looking foolish if his gestures weren’t what I perceived. I dread having a ‘I wasn’t waving at you… I was waving to the person behind you’ experience that no hand-wave-turned-head-pat gesture could ever resolve. I’d just be standing there, looking like a total idiot for assuming that I was anywhere on Dustin’s hit parade.
Speaking of ‘hit’ parade, as I stare up at his tall, fine self, there is no doubt in my mind that this man stays getting laid. A rush of jealousy and loneliness floods me.
Not getting laid in a while is no one’s fault but mine.
“I didn’t come last year. I ended up staying home and video chatting with my friends back home,” I respond. “The homesickness was in full effect. It was the first major holiday without my friends.”
Dustin’s brows rise in understanding. “I saw the Browns pennant in your cubical. I take it you’re from Cleveland?”
I don’t bother fighting back my oncoming smile.
He actually paid attention to my desk in passing.
“Who else would subject themselves to perpetual heartbreak unless they’re from there?”
When he laughs, I swear that two miniature fairies swoop underneath me and tickle right where I often fantasize about him touching. I’ve never been so turned on by anyone who hasn’t so much as laid a finger on me. He only needs to exist, and I have to do everything in my power not to grind against the concrete.
“I know other folks from towns with a subpar team. May I suggest you adopt a second favorite? The Steelers, perhaps?”
I frown and smile all at once. “I take it you’re from Pittsburgh, and that is your team?”
This is shit I already know. But he need not know that I know about all there is to know about him. Say that three times fast.
“Born and raised,” he says proudly. “I’d be happy to share my team with you.”
The way his voice drops and curls around my neck like a silk scarf makes me want to take it off and caress it around my breasts. But I quickly remember that we’re on a rooftop with two hundred other people. I need to channel that feisty girl from Cleveland, the one I lost long ago.
“I’m good. Thanks for the offer, though.”
“I don’t think you are. The Steelers have won six championships and have made the playoffs each decade since the seventies…”
“I'm nothing if not loyal,” I kindly interrupt.
He answers me with a smile so sultry, those goddamned fairies start playing my lady parts like a banjo.
“That’s good,” he murmurs. “I like that. Loyalty.”
My brain short circuits. I lose the ability to move my mouth and make sounds come out. What does he mean by that? On top of being utterly dumbstruck by his fuckable presence, he leaves me with so many questions. I wonder if he’s been through something that had him questioning the loyalty of a lover.
“Loyalty is my middle name.”
What in the hell did I just say?
He arches a brow. “Is that really your middle name? If it is, I like it.”
“No, no… it isn’t,” I giggle nervously. “That was just my way of saying… You know what? Never mind.”
Flustered doesn’t even cover how I feel right now. If Dustin were any other person in the world, I wouldn’t be such a bumbling buffoon.
“I get it.” His reassuring smile is the ultimate salve to a throbbing wound. “Charles.”
I wince, confused.
“Charles is my middle name,” he clarifies.
A faint gasp escapes my lips. He just shared something with me that wasn’t on his social media page. I’ve seen his middle initial during my many online queries but never knew what it stood for. Now I know.
“Iris,” I utter. “Not Loyalty.”
His smile fades and is replaced by something that eerily looks like awe.