“You are stalking me!” she shouts, surprising the hell out of me for a minute.
I recover quickly and shake my head as I let out a quiet chuckle. “I assure you that I am not.”
She doesn’t look like she believes me, and she also looks ready to bolt at any second.
“I live right there,” I say, pointing in the direction of my condo. “I was just leaving to go grab a drink when I saw you walking out of the gallery. I’m sorry if I startled you.”
She sighs and waves away my apology. “It’s fine.”
She turns to walk away, and I scramble to think of an excuse to talk to her a little longer. This woman makes me feel irrational. She clearly wants nothing to do with me, yet I still can’t seem to give up.
“Would you like to have a drink with me?” I ask her back as she walks away.
She briefly glances at me over her shoulder. “No.”
There is zero hesitation in her answer, and for some reason, her abrupt tone just makes me laugh. I jog to catch up to her, and she looks over at me with an annoyed expression.
“Why not?” I ask with a smile.
“God, you’re annoying,” she mumbles. She abruptly stops and turns to me. “I don’t date, Matt. I’m sure there are hundreds of single, straight women in this city who would love to go on a date with you. Go find one of them.”
She doesn’t give me a chance to respond before she continues walking.
That’s the first time she’s ever said my name, and I take it as a good sign that she actually remembers it.
“I wasn’t asking you on a date, Lily. I was asking if you would like to have a drink with me.”
“You would drive someone to drink. That’s for sure.”
I chuckle and shake my head. “You don’t mince your words, do you?”
“Why would I? So many people feel the need to sugarcoat their words, and it’s bullshit if you ask me. If you’re firm from the get-go and people know where you stand, it cuts out a lot of useless chatter.”
“You’re beautiful, and I find you extremely fascinating.”
“Why?” she asks.
She doesn’t immediately respond. We walk a couple more steps before she stops again to face me.
“Why do you find me fascinating?”
I have a feeling the next words out of my mouth are going to make or break me, so I take a second to really think about my response.
Dropping my smile for a minute, I hope she can hear the sincerity in my words. “Because you wear your darkness well. I want to know all about your secrets and the pain you try to hide behind those gorgeous eyes. You’re beautiful and different, and I’ve always liked that sort of thing.”