Willa walked behind the display cases to meet him near the watch counter. They weren’t big sellers, but watch bands and batteries were simple to do and kept the locals coming back. She ran her fingers over the row of tall, slender books that held the bands. They were grouped by style. She stopped when she came to the one that contained diver’s watch bands, pulled it out and flattened it on the counter.
“One of these might do the trick.” She held out her hand. “Can I see the watch? I need to measure it to make sure we get the right size.”
“Sure.” He handed it over, their fingers brushing.
Electricity jolted her at the touch of his rough skin on hers. All imagined, she knew that, but it felt as though he’d flipped a switch inside her.
Mercy, she was in a bad way. She put her energy into the watch band and examined the metal links. The dull throb of function coming off them did nothing to erase the sensation of touching him. She glanced up. “This looks like it was pulled apart.”
“Yeah.” He nodded. “I, uh, caught it on something.”
“Do you actually dive with this?”
He gave a little half smile that was utterly bewitching. “No. The whole diver’s watch thing is more of a…fashion statement, I guess you’d call it.”
The only fashion statement this man needed to make was walking into a room. “Maybe you should switch to a rubber strap. More durable. Cheaper too.”
He shrugged. “You’re the expert. Sounds good to me.”
“Let me grab them, they’re in a different book.” She set the watch down before putting the other book of bands away, then pulled out the one that held the rubber straps and opened it. She sized the watch against the chart in the center of the book. Twenty-two millimeters. She scanned the case for one that size.
She tapped the plastic container that held the one and only twenty-two-millimeter replacement strap. “I’m guessing you don’t want yellow.”
He screwed up his mouth to one side. “That wouldn’t be my first choice.”
“For some unknown reason, I’m out of black.” When was the last time she’d put in an order? Too many magical jobs, not enough everyday stuff. “But I can get it. Can you wait? Shouldn’t take more than two or three days to come in.”
“I can wait. On one condition.”
He probably wanted a loaner watch. She had a couple in the drawer, but they were old men’s watches with stretchy metal bands and simple round faces, nothing she could imagine him in. She rested her hand on the drawer pull. “Which is?”
“Have coffee with me.”
She started to open the drawer. “Sure, I can give—what?” She shut the drawer, slightly aflutter. That was not what she’d been expecting.
Now only a couple yards away, Ramona’s eyes widened. She sprayed glass cleaner on the case she’d just wiped and started cleaning it again.
Willa shook her head, reeling a bit that this man had just asked her out. “That’s very sweet of you, but I can’t. I have the store to run and—”
“I can handle it for an hour or two,” Ramona piped up.
“Thank you.” He nodded at Ramona, who grinned furiously.
Wretched brownie. Willa swallowed. He was very nice to look at and had enough of that valiant protector thing going on that any red-blooded woman would have been intrigued. Plus, she had just been wishing fate would get to work sending her someone. Not to mention her hormones clearly thought he was something special. “I don’t know…”
“You could go for lunch,” Ramona said as she cleaned the same case for the third time. “You have to eat sometime.”
Ramona really needed to learn to shut up.
He smiled, like that idea was infinitely better. “I’d be happy to take you to lunch.”
Willa gripped the edge of the counter. “I don’t even know your name.”
“That makes two of us.”
“You don’t know your name?”
“I don’t know yours.”
His hotness was making her dumb. “Oh, right, of course. I’m Willa Iscove, owner of this shop.”
He stuck his hand out. “And I’m Nick Hardwin.” A curious light filtered through his gaze. “At your service.”
Fae or not, Willa was beautiful. She had the typical fae build, tall and slim, with soft waves of honey-blond hair that barely covered her delicately pointed ears. Her brilliant aqua eyes made her gaze almost impossible to look away from. But Nick hadn’t asked her to lunch because of her looks. His only reason was to find out more about her and if her actions last night had been deliberate.
Her hotness was just a side benny.
Regardless of what she looked like, his instincts told him to stay on guard in case this was part of some elaborate plan to trap him. Considering her people’s history, it wouldn’t be unheard of. But he was already bound to protect her. What else could she want from him? Maybe the wild and wanton use of his body.
He wouldn’t put up a fight if that was the case.
“I’ll have the double cheeseburger loaded, cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake.” Willa smiled up at the waitress at Mummy’s, the kitschy fifties diner on Main.
“Very good.” The girl turned to him. “And for you?”
He held up his menu. “Same.”
“I’ll get that right in.” The waitress took the menus and walked away.