Excerpt Exploited (Zero Day #1) by A. Meredith Walters
“In high school I was a drama geek,” I found myself saying. Wow, I wasn’t going to win many cool points this evening. What was wrong with me?
“A drama geek? Really?” Hannah sounded incredulous.
My tall, strong, masculine first impression was going right out the window the more I spoke. “Musicals are a guilty pleasure. I’ve been to see Phantom of the Opera four times. But if you breathe a word I will deny it profusely and no one would believe you anyway. You know because of the whole badass FBI agent thing I have going on,” I said with a grin.
“I wouldn’t dream of revealing your secret,” Hannah said softly, with her own grin.
“You know, it’s only fair that you reveal one of your deep dark secrets. To make it even,” I remarked, having to speak loudly over the music.
Hannah raised an eyebrow, her eyes danced. “Not yet, Mason. I don’t think you’re ready for that.”
We laughed together but there was something strained to it. Not easy like before.
The tension became something else.
I cleared my throat again. “You can turn on the radio. Don’t feel you have to listen to this on my account.”
The swelling notes filled the car and if I were I alone I’d be belting along. Now, I just clumsily tapped my finger in time to the music.
“Actually I’ve been to see Les Mis three times. I’m a fan.” Hannah cocked her head to the side. “I like that you have a side that no one else gets to see. Like maybe I’m special for figuring it out.”
I turned into the parking lot of the steakhouse and tried to find a spot. It was a popular place so even though it was a Wednesday, pickings were slim.
“I’m glad. I’d hate to run you off before I even park the car,” I remarked.
Hannah rested her hand on my thigh. She was touching me a lot. That was a good sign.
It was also a good sign that I liked it.
“Not a chance, Mason.” Hannah gave my leg a squeeze. She seemed to be laying it all out there for me. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but think that Hannah’s book wasn’t open for me to read. Not yet.
It was a refreshing change. Frustrating, sure. But a challenge I relished.
I made my living by reading situations. Subtext. Hidden clues. Reading people had always been a strong skill, even for a guy who worked behind a computer. So it had always made dating…difficult. When I had time or the inclination to try.
There were a lot of times that I wished I could simply be with someone and not look for all the things they weren’t saying. This was the reason I didn’t do relationships. Because I typically figured out the secrets before a woman could reveal them.
And what was the fun in that?
I looked over at my date and felt a ripple of excitement in my belly. Low. Deep. Shifting and turning and consuming.
I hoped Hannah was going to be a lot of fun.
My stomach rumbled and Hannah laughed. “I take that as our cue to go inside.”
I rubbed a hand over my aching stomach. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten since a muffin at breakfast.”
Hannah grabbed her purse and opened the door. “Well let’s get you inside and stuff you full of meat.” She smirked. “Why does everything sound like an innuendo?”
Without thinking better of it, I reached out and brushed a stray strand of hair off her face. Her skin was soft. Smooth. Warm to the touch. “Probably because it is,” I said coyly.