Dirty DistractionsBy: Cari Quinn
To my mom, who was my first fan, and to Taryn Elliott, who understands my love of birds and hot mechanics. And likes my idea of coining the term “mougar” for older men with young chicks.
In the three months, fifteen days and handful of hours since she’d last had sex, Sara Carmichael had thought of little else. Maybe not every minute, but way more frequently than usual. And the co-star of those fantasies was the grinning, often grease-spattered man currently ogling her from a few feet away across her best friend’s backyard.
Sara reclined in the chaise lounge by Kim’s pool and brought her cell phone close to her face, as if she were mesmerized by the scores of last night’s game. Instead she peered over the top of her phone, tracking the way Brad O’Halloran’s gaze tracked her as she idly ran her toes along her left calf.
She always felt exposed around him, though her basic black swimsuit didn’t exactly promise carnal delights. It was a bikini, true, but at forty-two, she doubted the under-thirty set would be getting erections looking at her curves.
Brad was under thirty. He also seemed tall enough to block out the sun as he rose and strode over to her, though she suspected her own modest five-foot-three height made it seem as if he were taller. As often covered in grease as he was in aftershave, Brad didn’t skimp on all those man pheromones that set a woman’s nose twitching.
Or her nipples hardening, depending.
As far as things went, Brad was a pretty good catch. A business owner, intelligent, pleasant to talk to. He was beyond hot. Sizzling. Scorching. And yet still really young.
“You’re going to go cross-eyed if you keep staring at that phone, Sara Smile.”
Sara Smile again. The old eighties song had come on one day earlier that summer and Brad had immediately adopted the nickname for her, probably in the hopes of driving her nuts. It was working.
She’d never had a nickname before. Sara was a utilitarian name, a proper moniker for a competent, professional woman whose life was normal in every way. Normal, familiar and predictable.
Well, not that predictable. At least to outsiders she appeared to be having the time of her life. She loved her job. She dated, and most of the guys she met were nice enough. If she was a little restless sometimes, a bit unsatisfied, that was to be expected.
“You’re standing in my light,” she protested, nudging him away with her elbow without looking where she was aiming. Her jab went a little high, glancing off his thigh perilously close to the bulge in his faded jeans.
“Hey, hey. Watch it.”
She stared at her phone and hoped he’d leave. Didn’t a guy like him have women to chase on a hot Sunday afternoon? Since he was recently divorced—after a marriage that had lasted less time than a TV sweeps period—surely he needed to reassert his dominance on the dating scene.
While she’d gotten to know a lot about Brad as a person, she didn’t know a lot about his love life, other than the occasional rumor that hinted he was a stranger to celibacy. She and Kim had become fast friends when Sara moved to Fairdale, Pennsylvania three years ago to work at the Fairdale Bird Sanctuary. Kim worked in the sanctuary’s gift shop and had helped Sara get used to a new home far from her family and friends back in Idaho.
Due to the timing of their simultaneous singledom, Brad and Kim had made the decision to temporarily live together while they fixed up their mother’s old Victorian home to sell. Two months ago Sara had taken over the spare bedroom after she’d lost her own apartment to building renovations. Telly, her conure, couldn’t tolerate paint fumes, so she’d gratefully accepted Kim’s offer to stay with them for a while.
Some nights the three of them would pop in a movie and share some popcorn and laugh their asses off about nothing. Kim and Brad were awesome roomies, and Sara wasn’t in any hurry to leave. She’d even told her landlord he could finish the renos at his own pace because she was so happy with her new arrangement. Being with them had offered her a respite from her solitary life, and she had no intention of ending the party early.
But lately Brad had bumped up the amount of time he spent around her when Kim wasn’t around—especially the amount of time he spent staring at her. Seductively. Almost daring her to make a move.