When the phone rang at ten minutes to seven, I wasn’t surprised. Nope, I figured that Sinjin Sinclair, the most handsome and charming man who had ever stepped into my life, had probably just come to his senses and realized he didn’t want to take me out for dinner after all. Maybe he’d suffered from a slight brain freeze the night before when he’d been awaiting roadside assistance at my tarot-card-reading shop, and that was why he’d asked me out.
So when he phoned to say he was lost, I was surprised—not so much that his navigational skills were lacking but that he actually wanted to go through with this. Okay, I know what you’re thinking—that I must look like a troll, or something equally heinous . . . Well, I’m not a troll by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not the girl who stands out in a crowd. I’m more the girl next door—or at least I live down the street from the girl next door.
Okay, I’m probably being a little too hard on myself because I have been told that I’m attractive and I know I’m smart and all that stuff, but I’m still nowhere near Sinjin Sinclair’s league.
But back to the phone call. After Sinjin said he would be at my door shortly, I hung up and then stood in the center of my living room for a few minutes like a space cadet, gazing at the wall until I’m sure I looked like a complete and total moron.
But while it might have appeared that nothing much was going on in that gray matter between my ears, appearances can be deceiving. Thoughts ramrodded my brain, slamming into one another as new ones were born . . . What am I doing? What am I thinking? What do I possibly have to talk about with a man as cultured and refined as Sinjin Sinclair? Moreover, how am I going to eat in front of him? What if I choke on an ice cube? Or I sneeze after taking a mouthful of salad and spray carrot chunks all over his expensive clothes?
Jolie Wilkins, calm down, I finally said to myself, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. You are going to go on this date because if you don’t, you’re never going to forgive yourself. And, furthermore, Christa will most definitely murder you.
I inhaled another deep breath and forced myself out of my self-inflicted brain coma, starting toward the mirror as I took stock of myself for the umpteenth time in the last hour. Christa, my best friend and self-proclaimed fashion advisor, had left twenty minutes ago after chastising me about my current getup. Yes, she’d tried to force me into what amounted to shrink-wrapping, complete with stiletto heels that were so narrow, they could double as weapons. Then, after that attempt had failed, she’d tried to get me to go with a flame-red corset dress that was so tight, I couldn’t walk—and breath- ing was out of the question. So yes, I’d defeated the raunchy-clothing demon but I couldn’t say I felt very good about my victory.
I sighed as I took in my shoulder-length blond hair and the fact that the curl Christa had wrestled into it only minutes before was already gone. It could be described as “limp” at best. My makeup was nice, though—Christa had managed to talk me into a smoky eye, which accented my baby blues, and she’d also covered the freckles that sprinkled the bridge of my nose while playing up my cheekbones with a shimmery apricot blush. She’d lined my decently plump lips in a light brown and filled them with bubble-gum-pink lipstick, finishing them with a pink gloss called “Baby Doll.”
There was a knock on my front door, and I felt my heart lurch into my throat. I took another deep breath and glanced at my reflection in the mirror again, trying not to focus on the fact that I was anything but sexy in a black amorphous skirt that ended just below my knees, black tights, and two-inch heels. Even though my breasts are decently large, you couldn’t really tell in my gray turtleneck and black peacoat.
Maybe I should have listened to Christa . . .
Another quick knock on the door signaled the fact that I was dawdling. I pulled myself away from my reflection and, wrapping my hand around the doorknob, exhaled and opened it, pasting a smile on my face.
“Hello,” I said, hoping my voice sounded level and even-keeled, because the sight of Sinjin standing there just about undid me. A tornado was rampaging through me, tearing at my guts and wreaking havoc with my nervous system.
“Good evening,” the deity before me spoke in his refined, baritone English accent. His eyes traveled from my eyes to my bust to my legs and back up again as a serpentine smile spread across his sumptuous lips.
“Um,” I managed, meaning to add a How are you? to the end of it, but somehow the words never emerged.
Sinjin arched a black brow and chuckled as I debated slamming the door shut and hiding out in my room for the next, oh, two years, at least.
“You look quite lovely,” he said, with that devilish smile as he pulled his arm forward and offered me a bouquet of red roses. “These pale in comparison.”
My hand was shaking and my brain was on vacation as I reached for the roses, but somehow I did manage to smile and say, “Thank you, they are really beautiful.”
The beauty of the roses didn’t even compute, though— my overwhelmed mind was still reeling from the presence of this man. Man didn’t even do him justice; he seemed so much more than that—either heaven-sent or hell’s emissary.
He was wearing black, just as he had been the night before. His black slacks weren’t fitted, but neither were they loose—in fact, they seemed tailored to his incredibly long legs. And his black sweater perfectly showcased his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Even though his body and intimidating height would have been worth writing home about, it was his face that was so completely alluring.