Manizer

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She feels him before she sees him, a presence that zaps her skin and heats her insides. He smells faintly of cedar wood, and his reflection in the pastry case confirms that he is taller, but not so much that it would complicate matters.

The line at the café moves forward, and above the ginger scones and beneath the pain au chocolat, their eyes meet in the glass. She thinks she sees streaks of early gray running through his dark hair, which is good, she likes that. She glances up at him and he turns to her.

"Looks good," he says as his steely eyes make a pass from her face, down her dress, to her heels.

She smiles.

"The pastries," he tells her, and she makes a cooing sound of disappointment as her gaze returns to the prim rows of confections, the café line shuffling forth.

She can sense him struggling to save himself, his body facing hers.

"Busy day ahead?" he asks.

She lifts her eyes to his and bites her bottom lip. "Mm huh," she murmurs. "You?"

He is supremely handsome, with skin tanned just enough to suggest weekends spent outdoors, and there is a vein in his smooth neck that is pulsing in a manner that unsteadies her.

She is next in line, and for the life of her she cannot think of what to order.

"I have the biggest meeting of my life in an hour," he tells her.

Brie raises her eyebrows.

"Do I look alright?"

She wets her lips as she appraises him, and takes a step closer and lifts her hands to his throat. "Too tight," she says, loosening the knot of his tie. "They'll think you're desperate."

The girl with the elaborately tattooed chest behind the register asks her what she would like.

"I am," he says.

"A cappuccino and a piece of quiche," she tells the girl. "And whatever my desperate friend here is having."

"No no."

"Yes," she tells the girl firmly.

He tilts his head in acquiescence. "Just a cappuccino, please."

She slips her hand into the smooth leather of her purse and melts. "Oh my God," she says, lifting her hand to her face. "My wallet is in the car." A laugh escapes her lips, a burst of embarrassment. She looks at the girl. "I'll come pay you in five minutes. It's just upstairs in the garage."

"I'll get it," he says, extending a twenty to the counter girl, who does not heed her present customer's pleas to not accept it.

Swept forward, out of line, they turn to one another. "My car is just upstairs," she tells him. "Please let me repay you."

He is quiet as he tries to decipher her.

The barista calls out due cappuccini and she takes hold of their coffees. "What if I told you my day would be ruined if you didn't?"

He accepts the hot paper cup. "Just upstairs?" he says, glancing at the clock.

She smiles and nods. "Won't take long."

Her heels echo up the stairwell, which she ascends ahead of him, keenly aware that his face is level with her backside. She moves her body in that way that women do when they are being enticing—a swing of the hip, shoulders drawn back, trailing her fingers on the handrail.

The garage is dark and empty, this floor having already been filled with cars, their drivers gone to their days. Her car is parked in the corner. She leads him to the passenger side against the wall, vexed by the possibility that she's about to lose her nerve. The stranger of her imagination was nameless and faceless, but this one most definitely has a face. "I'm Danny, by the way."

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