“I’m sorry if I startled you. Your dance was so sweetly seductive, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to express my appreciation. In fact, I’d like to appreciate you even more. What’s your name, belleza?”
In case he was a rapist, she didn’t feel the need to be polite. “You need to leave.”
He held up both hands in a gesture meant to convey that he was harmless—not that she believed it. She scrambled back.
“Stop. Breathe. Listen.” His voice dropped an octave as he stepped forward again.
Instantly, she found herself following instructions, then wondered why. Something in his voice maybe? It carried a stern note of a command, but his expression read gentle. Whatever it was, London responded. She dropped her gaze to the scratched-up stage, frantically trying to gather her thoughts.
“Good girl, belleza. I’m not going to hurt you. Relax.”
Again, she found herself doing as he bid and being oddly happy that he’d praised her. Almost proud. God, was she so thirsty for something good in her life that she’d fall for kind words from a potential ax murderer?
“Nothing to worry about,” he promised. “I’m a friend of Alyssa Traverson, the owner.”
That raised her hackles. He should have stuck to the truth and said he was simply a customer. “I know most of her friends. I don’t know you. What’s your name?”
The Xander? Logan’s billionaire playboy pal? He was dressed expensively. Though Xander’s eyes appeared hazel, rather than blue like his brother’s, he looked enough like Javier otherwise—ungodly handsome—to convince her she’d guessed right.
The good news was, if he was a friend of Logan’s, he wasn’t an ax murderer or a rapist. In fact, she’d heard the stories about the ways in which Xander had helped both Logan and Tyler save their wives from some really dangerous situations. From everything she could tell, both of those men had great creep radars, so Xander wasn’t a psycho.
But he was unnerving. She’d read about men who could make a woman’s heart skip a bit, but London had believed it was all crap until recently. Xander and Javier were both lip-bitingly hot.
“What’s your name?” Xander asked.
“Like the city?” he smiled.
She nodded. Hell, his gaze was so fixed on her that her brain shut down. When he looked at her like that, she couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Have you ever been there?”
“No.” She tried to smile. “Someday.”
“You should see it.” He smiled. “It’s unique. And beautiful, just like you, belleza.”
“What does that mean?”
Exactly what his brother had murmured to her in his stupor.
“Don’t frown at me. You looked gorgeous onstage. Do you dance here?”
Was he kidding? In the thong she was still wearing—with little else to cover her—she scrambled back to find her clothes, grabbing her blouse first and holding it up over her torso. She’d been so startled, then blinded by his gorgeousness, she’d forgotten that she was damn-near naked.
He laughed. “Hmm, covered or not, you’re still sexy. You have the most tempting sugary pink nipples.”
London spread her shirt across her breasts even as she felt heat crawl up her cheeks. “You can’t see that. I’m wearing a bra.”
“Made of peekaboo lace.”
A quick glace down proved him right, and since her thong was made out of the same fabric, the chances were that he could see pretty much everything down there, too. Mortification swept over her in a hot wave. It shouldn’t bother her, really. So many doctors and medical professionals over the years had seen her mostly naked, but those people had looked at her like a specimen. Xander stared at her like a predator sizing up a meal. Hungry. Intense. His gaze heated. Desire simmered. And she couldn’t help but respond. Yes, she was flattered, but more, she felt an answering flutter between her legs.
“Could you . . .” She bit her lip, then forced her words out. “Could you be a gentleman and turn around so I can get dressed?”
He shrugged, but quirked a smile in her direction that said he’d be working to get her out of those clothes again soon. “Sure.”
“Thank you,” she said stiffly as he turned away.
She struggled into her clothes, tugging up her cargo capri pants, shrugging into her floral blouse with shaking fingers. This was the prudent thing, walking away from a womanizer already eyeing her. She had no experience with that kind of man—or any kind, for that matter.
But wasn’t that why she’d left her mom’s house and moved here, to break away from the shadow of her illness and go to a place where no one knew or remembered the tragedy of her adolescence? So she could finally experience life. So she could truly live.
So Xander wasn’t going to win any husband-of-the-year awards. London wasn’t looking to get married. Sure, she’d like to have a boyfriend someday. Right now, all she wanted to do was meet people, date, and okay, maybe have a little sex. Or a lot. She had as much libido as the next girl, maybe more since she didn’t exactly know what she was missing out on. But books and movies provided tantalizing glimpses. Even if it wasn’t like all the glorified fictional accounts, well . . . then she’d know, right? She could finally say she’d experienced something—with a man who knew what the hell he was doing. If Xander had slept with that many women, why would he mind one more? She doubted that her virginity or her past would even matter to him.
Decision made, London loosened her top button and pulled aside the edges of her blouse so he’d get a good glimpse at her cleavage. “You can turn around now.”
He did, appreciation lighting his eyes instantly. “Lovely. I didn’t mean to scare you or peek uninvited. The door was open, I walked in, and you looked so beautiful that I simply couldn’t stop you. So glad I didn’t.”
Xander reached out slowly, seeming to give her plenty of opportunity to back away. Heat rushed up her body. Her heart chugged and pulsed violently, but she refused to give in to the urge to scamper away.
With a reassuring smile, he helped her off the stage, then curled his fingers around her elbow with a proprietary grip, using it to draw her closer. “Come with me. Sit and talk.” The words were half-request, half-command. He gestured to the club’s dark bar. London didn’t see the harm.
“Excellent. I can’t promise that I won’t try to proposition you, but you’re always free to say no.” He sent her a disarming grin. “I’d like to get to know you. For now, I’ll keep my hands to myself,” he promised. “Mostly. Until you tell me otherwise.”
London hesitated, trying to think things through, but it was damn difficult with him so near. “You don’t give up, do you?”
“Not when I want something.”