Sinful Abandon(4)

By: Jeannine Colette

The car starts to move to the right.

The man next to me throws his arm across my body and says to the driver, “No. Keep driving.” Cobalt blues turn to me. “I got this.”

I lean back to get a good look at him. He’s about my age, mid-to late-twenties. He fills out his button-down well, and his fitted gray trousers showcase his strong thighs. His shoes are brown and generic. No Ferragamos on this guy. His messenger bag has a name I’ve never heard of, but it looks new.

Despite his designer-free clothing and lack of expensive cologne, he’s really good-looking. It’s only Sunday night, but he could be out, getting laid by any single gal in Chi-Town. Unless he’s gay, which is a possibility.

“Why the hell would you pay for my cab? You were shouting at me a minute ago. Now, you’re being…chivalrous?”

He lowers that gaze, sending heat and strength directly to me. “I am not about to let a woman in lingerie and a trench coat walk twenty blocks home, alone, at night in the city.”

I scrunch my eyes at him. I don’t trust people, especially ones who do nice things for strangers.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Ryan. What’s yours?”

“Heather. Where are you from?”

“Evergreen Park. You?”

“Where the hell is that?”

I know I’m being rude, but he doesn’t seem to care because he just laughs lightly and shakes his head.

“You’re obviously not from here.”

His hand rises to the lever on the ceiling of the cab. The action makes his bicep protrude through his shirtsleeve that is rolled up to his elbows. I can’t help but notice the lean muscles of his forearm as well.

“It’s a suburb about thirty minutes away.”

His words make my eyes flutter up to his face. I blink for a second as I try to recall what he was saying. Or did he just ask me something?

“Queens, New York,” I say.

The corners of his mouth rise, as do his brows. “You don’t sound like you’re from New York. Where’s your accent?”

Nice of him to notice. I worked hard to get rid of that dreadful Queens accent. With my dad already the drunken version of Archie Bunker, I refused to bear the nasally tone of my relatives, with each word drawn out way too long. Every time I feel the inflection approach the back of my throat, I snap into action and put my perfect diction back into place.

“I got rid of it,” I say matter-of-factly.

This piques Ryan’s interest. “How exactly does one get rid of an accent?”

I’ve never told anyone this because it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world. But, whatever, I don’t have to impress this guy. At all.

“Dr. Seuss,” I say. When he still stares at me, waiting for me to further explain, I continue, “I used to read Dr. Seuss books as a kid to work on my diction. You’d be surprised by how well it works.”

I brace myself for his laughter. Instead, he nods his head and looks back at me, like he’s impressed.

I’m suddenly intrigued.

“What’s your deal, Ryan from Chicago?”

“My deal? I don’t have a deal. Just doing the right thing.”

I hate his answer.

“Wouldn’t the right thing have been to let me have the cab in the first place? I could have been long gone and out of your life by now.”

He smiles a perfect white-toothed grin and speaks with sarcasm, “Yes, but you wouldn’t have had any money to pay for your cab. Aren’t we lucky that things worked out this way?”

I purse my lips at him but feel my cheeks rise.

Damn him.

The cab pulls up to my building, a gorgeous glass and steel apartment tower. Ryan opens the door and then stands to let me out. When I’m on the sidewalk, I spin around and see he’s getting back into the car.

“Don’t you want to come up?” I ask him, the breeze off Lake Michigan lifting my hair off my neck.

He stops moving, waits a beat, and then turns around to face me. “Why would I come up?”

My body falls with his peculiar sense of aloofness. “You paid for my cab, so I’m offering to pay you back.”

Standing by the open door of the cab, he puts his hand in his pocket. His tousled dark brown hair becoming ruffled in the gentle wind. “I’m not looking for sex.”