☕1: Can't Stand the Heat...

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“Excuse me,” Arden says with a coy smile

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“Excuse me,” Arden says with a coy smile.

“Pardon me.” The slightest whiff of an English accent is discernible in his voice.

Arden and a rather attractive man have reached for a bunch of shallots at the same time. Now her hand is wedged underneath his. The pale purple of the tiny onions swirls about the stainless steel counter under the pressure of their palms. 

His deep-set dark eyes look her over and she feels naked. But she isn't embarrassed. She's happy to let him look. It's only fair. Arden's studying him, too.

The heat emanating from her husband's body at her side makes her conscious of the stranger's lingering touch. He follows her eyes to their fingers, and removes his hand. A nervous chuckle escapes him. He takes a look at his wife before smiling back at her. 

Their respective spouses don't seem to notice the interaction. He hands the shallots to her. And Arden thanks him.

“No problem at all,” he says.

His voice sweeps over her ears like a refreshing breeze. It's a nice change of pace from the heavy syrup of the southern accents she hears every day.

British men always seem so suave. Like their accent comes with an ingrained refinement. And the specimen in front of her is no exception.

She wishes he would say something else. Anything else.

Arden lets her eyes wander over him in furtive glances, as she reduces the shallots to uniform oblong circles. 

As if he knows she's watching, he licks his bottom lip and she gets a flash of his blinding, white teeth as his lip unfurls from their bite.

His face has a rugged maturity to it. Its features are bold, but not menacing. A pristine goatee frames his thick lips. The soft laugh lines forming at his cheeks make him endearing. His head comes to a slight point, which gives her the sudden urge to run her hand over its slope. The dark, silky skin blanketing his six-feet-plus frame reminds her of fresh brewed coffee. Strong, black and twice as smooth.

Elliott's hand on her elbow interrupts her examination of the man across from her. She clears her throat, and whips her head to look at him.

“Should I add the wine now?” Eli asks her.

Tonight she and her husband, Elliott, are attending a couples' cooking class. He called her at the bakery, and said they were going to do something different for date night.

He wouldn't tell her what he had in mind. Just that she should wear something a bit covered.

Arden couldn't have cared less where he was taking her.

As long as they didn't end up at their regular table at Luciano's. The chef sees them walk into the door, and begins to fire up Eli's medium rare steak with the Gorgonzola and chive mashed potatoes. The entire staff knows them by name. She wouldn't be offended to learn the hostess refers to them as “Dull, party of two.”

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