Chasing Vivi(10)

By: A.M. Hargrove



“Coworker,” I finish as I tug my hand from beneath Vince’s. For whatever reason, it makes me uncomfortable to leave it there.

Prescott slides into the booth next to me and says in an accusatory tone, “You never called me, Vivi.”

Then he impales Vince with his glare. Vince withers under the intensity of it.

“Uh, look, Mr. Beckham, Vivi, I can leave.”

“No!” I quickly jump in.

“That would be a good idea, Vince,” Prescott says, overriding me.

“Our food hasn’t arrived yet.” But my protest falls on deaf ears.

Prescott reaches into his wallet and pulls out a thick wad of bills. He slides them across the table to Vince. I watch as Vince’s eyes nearly tumble out of their sockets.

“It’s all yours, Vince, if you leave right now.”

“Yes, sir.” Vince shoots me an apologetic glance, but he eagerly scoops up the money and bolts out of the booth. I can’t blame him. He’s a struggling part-time student who works a couple of jobs to support himself. Prescott just handed him God knows how much for vacating his seat. “See ya, Vivi. Let me know how the new shop is.”

I wiggle my fingers at him as he disappears. “Is it your usual MO to bribe people to do things for you?”

“Only when it achieves a certain goal.” Then he cocks a brow and continues. “Though where you’re concerned, it always seems there’s an exchange of funds, doesn’t it? But he certainly seemed amenable to it.”

The heat of Prescott’s leg burns against my own, nearly singeing me. A shiver ripples through me.

“Cold?”

“This city is a block of ice.” Only that’s not why I shivered.

He leans back a bit and scrutinizes me. “Maybe you ought to dress warmer. Your clothes are inappropriate.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” My sarcasm isn’t lost on him.

“You don’t have to be so snarky.”

I massage my forehead using two fingers and a thumb. “Honestly, Prescott, the world isn’t at everyone’s fingertips like it is yours. Your comment didn’t clue me into the fact that my clothes aren’t suitable. I moved here from the coast of southern Virginia where the weather was milder and I didn’t have to walk everywhere in the bitter cold. This has been an unusually freezing October. Winter hit early, though you probably didn’t notice since you conveniently ride around in a fancy car, I presume.”

“Take a cab then, if you don’t want to freeze—or buy warmer clothes.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps not everyone has your level of financial resources?”

The waitress delivers our food and acts confused by the change of people at the booth.

“Just leave them both here. We’ll figure it out,” Prescott says. He stares at the food for a second then asks me which one is mine.

“This one.” I point to the large burger.

He slides my plate over to me and I prepare to eat my meal. I’m starving, having not eaten all day. My stomach rumbles on cue as I take several bites of my cheeseburger. I close my eyes as I chew the delicious food. Prescott is forgotten while I savor the meal.

“Do you always eat like that?” His husky voice pulls me back to reality.

“Eat like what?”

“Like you’re worshipping the fucking thing with your mouth and tongue.” The comment nails me like a blast of icy air.

I’m suddenly self-conscious of how I must appear to him. Was I gobbling down the food so fast I looked like a glutton? Was he reminded of that fat girl from Crestview? Is that why he said that? The burger that was so delicious a few seconds ago leaves a rancid taste in my mouth. I force the last bit down my throat and wash it down with a gulp of my beer.

“No, I was, er, hungry.” My voice sounds small to my ears as I sit here feeling like a scolded child.

His irises are pinned on me as he finishes the remainder of his drink. I’m not sure what it is, but the color matches his eyes. Warm, golden brown.

“By all means, eat away, little wolf.” His tongue slowly slides over his bottom lip, and a smile plays at one corner of his mouth.

Glancing back at my plate, the sight of the burger makes me feel ill. “I’m not hungry anymore.” I push the plate away from me.

He laughs. “You can’t be serious. You were inhaling the thing a second ago and now you’re not hungry anymore?”

“Yeah. I think I need to leave.”

“Not gonna happen. Unless, of course, you climb over me.” His head drops to my legs and a cocky grin emerges on his sexy mouth. Then he redirects his gaze back to my eyes and waggles his brows.

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