The asshole was a quarter of an hour late — fifteen long, ass-dragging minutes. No call, no text. Nothing. And as every girl who’s ever sat alone at a crowded bar knows, fifteen minutes can be an eternity and forever.
The idea was tempting, but I’d really liked this guy. Or to be more accurate, I’d liked his profile. He looked dark and handsome, even in the weird, over-the-head selfies he’d probably spent hours agonizing over.
Besides, in the few texts we’d exchanged he was witty and cute. And what girl doesn’t like witty and cute?
The door opened… and another couple came through, smiling and laughing. At least someone was having a good time. My mouth twisted in disappointment, the last remnants of salt flaking away from my margarita glass as I decided to grab the bartender’s attention.
How long do you wait for something like this?
I had no idea, really. I’d never done it.
Ten more minutes? Another fifteen?
“One more drink,” I decided aloud. The bartender smiled and poured me another. He pushed it my way, and I raised it back to him in salute. “After that…”
“After that what?”
I whirled, just about sloshing my new drink over its perfectly crusty rim. That would’ve been criminal. Especially if I’d lost the lime wedge.
The guy on the other side of me was someone I recognized immediately. Tall and lean and beautifully built, he’d been sitting nearby, at a table alone. I’d already checked him out more than once since I’d gotten here.
“So what’s the verdict?” he asked.
“What happens after one more drink?”
He smiled beneath his steel-grey eyes, and I felt my iciness melt just a little. He had a really great smile. Great eyes too.
“I can see you’re already mad,” he said, with mock seriousness. “So what happens next? Do you get really, really mad?”
“Only if someone makes me,” I said.
He eyed me shrewdly, looking me up and down. Under normal circumstances I’d have felt self-conscious about it. But tonight? Tonight I was dressed to kill. Tonight I had a date…
Or at least, almost a date.
“You got stood up, didn’t you?”
“No,” I said immediately.
He only smiled some more.
“Maybe.” I sighed finally. The jig was up. “Okay, yes.”
“So what?” he shrugged. "It’s not that big a deal.”
“For you maybe,” I laughed. “You’re not the one who got stood up.”
He sat down now and signaled the bartender. As he did, he dropped some money on the bar.
“The funny thing is…” he chuckled, “you’d be wrong on that.”
I glanced over to his empty table. “You too?”
“Yup. Although to be honest, I really didn’t expect her to show.” He rubbed at the stubble on his chin. “It’s… well, it’s complicated.”
My brow crossed in confusion. This guy was gorgeous. Tall and ripped with muscle, and not the kind of blown-up muscle guys get at the gym just for show. No, this was useful muscle. It was strength. It was power. My eyes lingered on his two strong arms, where his stretched-tight T-shirt rode up high on two giant biceps.
Who the hell would possibly stand him up?
“We’re both too good-looking to be stood up,” I flirted. “So I think you’re bullshitting.”
A beer arrived, and he wrapped one big hand around it. I could see the callouses. He looked like a worker, or maybe…
“You from the base?”
He nodded. “Army. Ranger specialist.”
I looked at him again, this time in an all new light. Soldiers and men in uniform pretty much did it for me. Always had.
But an Army Ranger…
“That bother you?”
“No, no,” I said quickly. “Not at all. In fact, it’s very cool.”
He laughed and sipped his beer. “For some things, yes,” he said. I watched his Adam’s apple bob sexily as he swallowed. Even his neck had muscles. “But for other things…”
“Yup,” he confirmed. “For dating it sucks.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I challenged. “I’m thinking you do alright with the ladies. I for one have always thought soldiers were pretty hot.”
“Ever date one?”
I shook my head. Though the base was very nearby, somehow I never had.
“If you had, you’d realize there are… issues.”
“Is that why you got stood up?” I asked.
“No.” He thought for a moment. “And yes. Sort of.”
He drained his beer, keeping his eye on me the whole time. I found myself intrigued by him, locked into his gaze. Unable to look away.
“Hey,” he said, sliding the empty glass away. “You wanna get out of here?”
I blinked. “I guess. Sure. But aren’t you—”
He shook his head. “Nah, not anymore. Right now, I don’t even want my date to show up.”
I laughed. “Me neither.”
My sexy soldier stood and extended his hand. I took it. It was softer than I thought it would be, warm and welcoming. Together, we headed for the door.
“By the way I’m—”
The cry came from behind us. I almost smacked my forehead… the guy from the dating site.
“Sammara hey! Oh wow, I’m so sorry I’m late. You wouldn’t believe the—”
He stopped mid-sentence, his eyes dropping down to where my new friend and I were holding hands.
“I— I mean…”
“Save it,” my paramour said, dropping an apologetic hand on my would-be date’s shoulder. “Sorry brother, but it looks like you just missed the boat.”
He looked confused. Then angry. Then, after glancing twice at the guy holding my hand… devastated.
As we moved past him without a word, my almost-date’s chin slumped to his chest. I felt sorry for him, but only for a second. Then I remembered the dickhead made me wait nearly half an hour for him, without so much as a phone call.
“Oh and a quick tip?” I added as we walked away. “Stop taking photos at weird angles to hide how tall you are.”
My soldier smirked. “Or how tall you aren’t.”