WILDER:The Mountain Man's Babies(3)

By: Frankie Love

“Well,” I tell her, swallowing tears. “Thank you for your time. I know I don’t have experience with this sort of design and would be all wrong for the project.”

“I wish this show was a better fit for you.”

I take a deep breath, wishing I hadn’t pinned all of my hopes on this, and say goodbye.

In the hotel lobby, I order a well drink, gin and soda, grateful for the happy hour prices. Sure, I could ask my parents for money, but that has never been my mode of operation. And I’m not destitute. I have a few more projects lined up for the spring, and by then I will have found a few more.

I look down at my phone, not having the courage to text my sister. I swear to God the moment I do she’ll be making reservations for our double date.

Instead, I lift my eyes and look down the bar.

A man raises his pint of beer to me, smiling. Unabashedly. They aren’t tiptoeing around anything. His eyes say, Slide down, sweetie. Let’s make this a night to remember.

I smile back, because, well, it’s nice to have someone flirt with me, especially after the afternoon I’ve had. Especially this someone.

He’s the opposite of Brent, even though he’s in a dress shirt and tie. His shirtsleeves are rolled up, revealing tattoos on his forearm. He may clean up nice, but it’s clear he’s rough around the edges. His beard could rival any of the hipsters in town and he has a look that says, Let’s do this, baby.

Without hesitation, I pick up my drink and move four seats down the bar.

I may not have gotten a television gig today, but I can certainly end the night with a bang.

Chapter Three

For a woman flying solo at a bar, she doesn’t have that hungry look in her eyes, a look that screams, I want you to want me.

No. This woman has a look that says, I don’t give a fuck. No false pretenses. She isn’t trying too hard, she isn’t trying at all.

But damn, she likes the vibe I’m sending. When she scoots down one stool, two stools--four--I know my night is going to go even better than my day.

Which is saying something.

My day was fucking insane. The producers had a hard-on for my buddies and me, and it showed in the way they wooed me all the way to a contract.

Jaxon and I aren’t hard up for cash--our timber hauling business was successful, but I know Buck and Rosie don’t have a ton in the way of savings. And with their babies, I know the offer from the studio could really set them up nice.

I’m not talking college tuition, but I am talking a car big enough for their tribe, or hell, a cushion in savings so they don’t have to stress about lean times.

And when they pitched the concept of the house we would build for the show being Buck’s new place, it was a done deal, too good be true.

“You here for business?” she asks, swirling the straw in her glass. She doesn’t meet my gaze, but my eyes can’t help but drink her in.

Her top is sheer, the black straps of her bra leave little to the imagination. But it isn’t flashy, it’s effortless. And when she licks her lips, I lick my own. Her hair is shiny, black and in a messy pile on her head. Like she just woke up and ended up here. For me. Like I am her final destination.

That’ll work just fine.

With my cock twitching, I raise a brow. “Yeah, business brought me to the city. You?”

“Me too. Well, I mean I live here, though. So to be specific, business brought me to this hotel.”

Knowing the hotel is one of the biggest in Seattle, I’m sure there are tons of conferences and meetings happening in every wing of this plaza.

“Business go well?” I ask, not wanting to pry, but feeling weird about not asking a follow-up question.

She lifts her empty glass, smirking. “Not great. Otherwise, I’d be home, not wallowing at a stuffy overpriced bar.” Her eyes go wide and she covers her mouth. “Shit. Sorry. Maybe you love this bar. Awkward.”

I shake my head slowly. “I don’t give a shit about this bar, but I’m pretty damn interested in the person I met here.”

She sets her hand on mine. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. We haven’t properly met. I’m Stella.”

“And I’m Wilder,” I tell her lifting her hand to my lips, kissing the soft skin without any intention of letting her out of my sight for the rest of the night.

“Wilder?” She flicks a loose strand of hair from her face, leaning closer to me. Close enough that I could kiss her. Close enough to know she wants to get filthy as badly as I do. “That’s quite a name. Can you live up to that?”

“Oh, baby, I was born wild. It’s in my blood. All I’ve ever known.”

She inhales, and my eyes swallow her whole. Memorizing the soft dimple in her cheek, the icy-blue shade of her eyes, her slightly upturned nose.

“Show me,” she says, looking at me straight on. “Show me how wild you can be.”

Minutes later we’re in my hotel room, neither of us interested in wasting any time. Maybe Stella understands that life is short, fucking precious. Maybe she understands that heat like this, between two people, doesn’t show up every day.