Mick Brennan is a bearded, tattooed widower of 20-plus years who thinks he might be ready to dip his foot back in the dating pool.
When Em moves into her dream home, she had no idea that her downstairs neighbor could be her Mister Ideal. When Mick Brennan meets his curvy, talkative upstairs neighbor, he’s more intrigued by her than he has been in any other woman in two decades.
Can these two lonely people overcome the wounds of their pasts and learn to love again?
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Mick stared at her, mouth agape. Em shifted her weight from one foot to the other. She cleared her throat. “Um, am I not dressed appropriately?”
“B’y, you’re some nice piece a’ stuff, Em, all dolled up.”
Mick’s eyes raked over Em’s body. She was wearing another of those silky, almost transparent blouses that bared her arms and was deceptively prim along the neckline. Her cherry-red trousers hugged her hips. And those shoes! Sky-high black platform sandals.
He touched the soft bow at the neckline of her blouse. “Is there a name for this?” he asked.
With a wicked grin she answered, “It’s called a pussy bow.”
Oh, you’re in trouble, b’y.
Em continued grinning. “You don’t look too bad yourself. You clean up nicely.”
They walked to the car, Mick’s hand resting on Em’s lower back. As he helped her in the car, her tattooed calf peeked from the bottom of her trouser leg. Mick prayed for self-control as he walked around the Charger.
Em watched Mick on the way to the restaurant. He had gotten his beard trimmed, and his hair cut, too. He wore it brushed back away from his handsome face tonight. His white dress shirt was open at the collar, and the dark coat hugged his broad shoulders and caressed his big arms.
“What? You’re making me kinda nervous, Em.” Mick cleared his throat and cut his eyes quickly over at Em in the passenger seat.
“Your tattoos are very strategically placed. In long sleeves and a collared shirt, you can’t see them at all.”
“You’re very observant.”
Em cocked her head at him. “Usually when someone has two densely inked sleeves of tattoos like you do, they have them on their neck and hands as well, and you don’t. I just find that interesting.”
“Well, I’m an engineer, and they tend to be on the conservative side. I wanted to make sure I could get a job.”
“Hm.” Em was thoughtful.
“What about you? You have that stocking. Not that I really got a chance to examine it the other morning,” he said, his ears turning pink. “What’s the story behind that?”
“I started with a ring around my ankle, a Claddagh. God, my mother freaked out. She was horrified. I loved it and couldn’t wait to get more, but you know, tattoos can be expensive, plus I didn’t want to listen to her bemoan how I was making a spectacle of myself, so I waited. Then my mother passed away, and I thought ‘Screw it,’ and so I added to it over time. The whole stocking took nine years, total. I don’t regret it a bit. The only thing I regret is letting Tripp bully me into not wearing skirts at the office, but that’s a moot point since I’m not working with him anymore.”
They settled back into silence, but Em continued to gaze at Mick with a thoughtful look on her face.
“Did you cut your hair and beard because of what I said?” Em asked. “Be honest with me.”
Mick grabbed Em’s left hand, raising it to his lips. She squeezed his hand in return.
“No, not really. I’ve been contemplating a change for a while,” he answered after a long pause. “You’re scarily perceptive, though.”
She was very nervous. This date seemed monumental for some reason. Maybe because they had already been intimate? Not just the physical intimacy, and Em flushed at the memory of that, but at Mick’s emotional honesty in telling her about his family. She knew that there was more, but she surmised that Mick wasn’t one to share things easily.
She squeezed his fingers again and was rewarded with one of his panty dropping smiles. Em loved the way his eyes crinkled at the corners when he grinned. She could feel herself getting wet and her nipples hardening. She exhaled. This dinner was going to be hard to get through.
She watched him come around the car to open her door for her, his long legs clad in what surely were bespoke trousers. The fit of those pants was just too perfect. He reached into the car to help her out, and they entered the restaurant, holding hands.