LINDSEY LEANS INTO the turn off Bayview Boulevard, gliding down the easy curves toward the south harbor enclave that was a separate township in the late 1800s. She grew up in this once-seedy neighborhood when the old brick buildings were mostly boarded up and the gingerbread Victorian homes derelict “haunted houses” the kids would sneak into for a good scare. Now, with the influx of California retirees and Seattle dot.com millionaires, it’s been restored and tarted up with trendy boutiques and condos overlooking the bay. And what cannot be prettified out of existence behind its greenbelt—the sewage treatment plant.
She grins into the salty mudflat breeze. A Subaru wagon swings wide to pass her bike, shadowed driver turning his head to give her a once-over. Her grin widens.
Lindsey’s getting over her surprise at how often this is happening lately. She’s actually been the object of catcalls from guys cruising in packs, and it’s funny when they look back to see her face and realize she’s not some young babe. Maybe it’s her change in attitude, or maybe the fact that she’s letting herself cool off the summer heat in her skimpy tank tops and short-shorts again. Hey, as long as her tight butt’s holding the line, why not enjoy it? There’s some kind of shift that has the cutie checkers at the co-op flirting with her, people on sidewalks smiling as she passes, and it’s not just men, it’s women, too. Can they feel the vibe? Lindsey’s in love with life again.
“Well, duh!” she can hear Megan saying. “You’re smiling these days.”
She celebrates the feel-good rush of the bike ride, swooping down toward the rack in front of the bookstore coffee shop, swinging one leg over to ride the last momentum sidesaddle and step off with a flourish onto the curb.
“Nice move!” A tenor voice from behind her.
She turns to see it’s the Subaru driver, standing beside his open door, flashing a white smile in a handsome dark face, long black hair pulled into a ponytail. He also happens to be Damon Perrera, here to finally meet her and brainstorm article ideas.
Well, here comes the “Oh, Ma’am” moment. Lindsey pulls off her helmet and shades, waits for the age-recognition reset when he sees her face.
He blinks, then smiles wider, holding her gaze.
Lindsey, her bluff called, glances away from those gleaming dark eyes. Phew. She clears her throat. Before this can get too convoluted, she steps toward him, holding out her hand. “Damon? I’m Lindsey.”
“Oh.” He does look surprised then. “Wow.” He laughs and steps closer, takes her hand and gives it a firm squeeze. “Hey, great to meet you!” He gestures toward her bike. “You’re making me feel lazy, should’ve walked my talk and ridden my bike today.”
Lindsey shrugs and leans her bike against the rack. “Okay, you can work off the guilt by buying me a latte.”
She pulls her cable lock from her pannier, as out pops, “You’re too easy.” Then she flushes at this boldness and hastily turns away to secure the bike.
She glances quickly back at him. He’s flashing those white teeth again.
She straightens, spreading her palms. “I better confess, I’m a big fake. I get all these environmentally-conscious credits, when I really just love to ride my bike.”
“I can see that.” A glance up and down her, and he doesn’t bother to conceal it.
Up close, he’s even more gorgeous than she’d realized at the hospital meeting. As if that coffee-and-cream skin and those long-lashed Latin eyes aren’t enough, there’s the high cheekbones, assertive nose offset by a strong chin, and he’s bursting with a palpable vitality. Is he this… on with every woman he meets? Puddles of melted-down ladies everywhere he passes?
Just then, perfect timing, a hot flash ignites. Prickling heat flares up Lindsey’s spine, sweat breaking out on her face and back. She turns away again, grabbing her bike pannier and clutching it against her chest, pulling out a kerchief to blot her damp face. “Guess I worked up a sweat. Maybe iced tea instead of that latte,” she lamely manages.
“That’s good. Have you noticed—the more fit you are, the easier you break a sweat?” He gestures toward the coffee shop. “After you.”
As Lindsey bites her lip and strides past him through the doorway, he’s glancing down again, checking her out. And Lindsey, hopeless, is enjoying it.
Damon acts the perfect gentleman, escorting her to a window table in the cozy cellar coffeeshop with its antique brick walls, relaying her iced tea request to the server and insisting she order a dessert “for energy on the way home,” but all the while those dark eyes glimmering with mischief. She pictures a doting mother throwing up her hands in protest while indulging his every whim. He compliments her again on the “Stages of Environmental Grieving” essay, then gets her laughing with his wicked take on the hospital road access meeting, a little preview of his forthcoming editorial for the Whiplash. His gaze meanders again over her tank top and bare arms.
Watch it, girl. Lindsey pulls out her jersey and slips it on. But what the hell, how often is she flirted up by such a handsome hunk of maleness?
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