Love Me Like That

By: Marie James

“London,” I tell him.

“No, I think this is made in the States,” he says turning the bottle at an angle so he can read the side.

I laugh. Did I just giggle at him? “No. My name is London.”

“Ah! Nice to meet you London. I’m Kadin.” He holds his hand out, and I shake it but pull away abruptly.

“Your hands are freezing,” I explain and tuck my hand back into the safety of the fleece blanket, pretending I didn’t feel more than just the cold of his fingers when we touched.

“Hence the whiskey. Would you like some?” He holds up a half-full tumbler.

I reach out and take it from him, making sure not to touch him again. “Thank you.”

He pours himself an equally full glass, and I’m sure the leaving off of the cap is an indication of his plans for the night. I take an overly large gulp of the golden liquid and close my eyes as it burns a path down my throat.

I hold the tumbler with both hands near the bottom of my chin, in close range for my next sip. I watch the fire crackle and burn. The flames are shooting up and finding no respite, endlessly burning with nothing further to take hold of and destroy.

Nothing left to destroy. A perfect example of my life right now.

Another sip out of my glass tells me I’ve been drinking without realizing it as my latest attempt leaves me with an empty mouth. I cut my eyes back to Kadin and find him smirking at me.

“More?” He holds up the bottle.

Without a word, I hold my glass closer to him and watch him fill it fuller than he did the first time around.

“I don’t usually drink. I’ve had a super shitty day.” I explain as to why I’m throwing back whiskey like a marathon runner does water after a race.

“No judgment here,” he says and tosses back the last of his own drink. He begins to pour himself another. “Story of my life these days.”

I’ve never been the type to talk about my problems. Well, with anyone other than Keira, but for some reason I want to speak to this man. The silence around us is not uncomfortable, but I have a craving for his voice.

I realize I’m buzzed from the alcohol when I almost ask him to say the Pledge of Allegiance, so I can close my eyes and listen to his deep, husky voice as he recites it. I laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

He smiles slyly at me even though I’m certain he has no idea what I laughed for.

I clear my throat as he continues to watch me. The firelight makes his eye color appear almost black, in a soothing dark chocolate kind of way and the shine reflecting off of his mahogany colored hair would make any woman jealous. It’s either tousled and messy from the hood of his jacket when he was outside earlier, or he’s accustomed to running his hands through it repeatedly.

I turn my focus back to the fire when I catch myself staring at his full lips, chiseled cheeks, and strong jaw that’s covered with a day or two of unshaved growth. My fingers itch to touch the coarseness of it.

Shit, I need to quit drinking. I bring the glass to my lips and take another long pull.

“You have a beautiful home.” I look around the room that seems more romantic and less eerie than it did fifteen minutes ago. Thank you, Jack.

“Thank you,” he answers giving nothing away.

I look back to the fire, suddenly feeling awkward and unable to think of anything else for small talk.

“Where do you call home?” I close my eyes at the rumble of his question.

Then I realize just what he’s asking. “I used to live in Great Falls, but I’m moving.”

“You were moving today? I don’t recall seeing that much in your car.” What are you a damn detective?

I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t have much.”

My hope that he would keep within the boundaries set by social norms in regards to what’s considered appropriate topics among strangers is broken when he asks, “What are you running from?”

I whip my head to face him and find him watching me with a raised eyebrow. You wanted to talk to him, don’t get pissed when you’re uncomfortable with the topic.

“Boyfriend trouble,” I answer honestly.

“Enough trouble to make you leave town?”

“Enough to leave the state,” I retort quickly.

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