“This is a private club, miss,” the stout man guarding the black door said. His thick, untamed brows furrowed in an unsettling way.
Taking a step back, Elnora looked around the street before verifying the address Marcy had sent.
It was a conspicuous location for a club, but this was the right place. Following another quick glance up and down the street, she returned her attention to the guards.
“I’m certain I’m in the right place,” Elnora stated.
“Ma’am, unless your name’s on the list, or you know the password, you’re not getting in,” the other guard in the matching black-on black outfit said.
Ma’am? Like she was a hundred?
Elnora eyed him before bracing her hands on her hips. No more blind dates, and no more letting Marcy set her up on dates that could lead to her murder.
While she could have called a cab by now and saved herself the embarrassment, she hadn’t left her penthouse in months; she needed this.
Marcy was her oldest friend and partner in the cybersecurity firm they’d started right after college. A fine friend she was, and far more doting than her mother, who was preoccupied with her own love life.
“It’s a blind date,” Elnora huffed.
One she was regretting, and one she’d only agreed to so Marcy would lay off her for a while. More importantly, one she needed to blow off some long overdue steam.
Much to her surprise, that seemed to get the guards’ attention. They swapped a look, and the shorter of the two pulled out an iPad.
He got busy for a minute then nodded to his fellow guard who pulled the heavy black door open on cue.
“Enjoy your evening, signorina,” he added with a crooked smile.
Elnora hesitated for a minute against the subtle sound of music before heading in. Past the blue-lit entrance, she threaded cautiously until she arrived at a concierge.
“You’re the blind date?” the lanky host asked, with an arched brow and incredulity that made her snort.
Elnora whipped caramel ombré locks from her face. It had taken her a good hour to get her hair this perfectly curled for tonight; no one was ruining her mood.
“Just get me to my table,” she said to him, as the warm scent of cigars greeted her, laced with an intense stench of aged scotch.
Past the concierge, at the end of the room, was a platform where a live jazz band was playing a low, smooth tune.
“This way, miss.” The host grabbed a menu from under his dais and led her into the pub.
She followed, strutting with elegance and grace in her red, low-back body-con dress. The ambience was walnut-brown gentlemen’s club, with dim yellow lights and vintage decor.
They reached a table in front of a fireplace, centered right where she could see everything, especially the sharply dressed gentlemen in the pub sizing her up.
“Table eleven.” The host smiled at her. “Your server will be with you shortly.”
With a snotty hair flip, Elnora lowered herself into her chair and crossed her legs, baring long, well-toned calves she was proud of.
As the host left, she peeked around. Aside from the platinum blonde singer, she was the only other woman.
But she shook it off and turned to the menu, finally glimpsing the name of the establishment on the black luxurious leather of the menu: l’Éclipse.
“L what?” Elnora mused. Was she in the wrong place?
“I had a DB4 once.”
Her hazel eyes raised to him and widened. The man was sexy in a way that knocked the breath out of her, jouncing her heart and promising a savage savoring, and Elnora liked it.
Dressed in a bespoke tux, he flashed her a smile and took the seat in front of her.
“I’m sorry?” Elnora wondered, her eyes glued to the green orbs of his enchanting, steady gaze. “DB4?”
“Oh, you should have seen it. The Aston Martin DB4 was a classic and after I restored it, it was a glorious trophy.”
He crossed his legs as he rambled on, adjusting the sleeves of his tux with an elegance that made her mouth water.
“Yet, it will never compare to how exquisite you are, belle.” His gaze flickered over her in assessment and Elnora’s cheeks burned.
Damn, he was far more gorgeous than she’d expected. It should be illegal to look that poised and smooth.
Thank you, Marcy.
With a small laugh, she curled her fingers through her hair and leaned against the table, drinking in the dazzling beauty of his eyes.
“Mason.” He stretched, offering his hand across the table.
Elnora’s hand moved before she could think, wrapping in the warmth he offered against the sizzle that clenched her stomach with desire.
Then he just looked at her, a low sensual smile playing on his full beckoning lips. She wondered how soft they’d feel when he kissed her goodnight.
As if he could read her thoughts, he smiled, flashing fine white teeth she imagined nibbling on her naked skin.
Elnora withdrew her hand and shook her head with a small sigh.
“I don’t suppose you have a name,” Mason said with a coy smile.
She bit her lip with a small laugh while she wondered why he was here on a blind date. He looked capable of getting every woman. An introverted system analyst was way too bland for him. What was his deal?
“Elnora,” she said.
He nodded, still watching her like he was trying to figure something out.
She looked around for her server. A shot or two of their strongest whiskey would get her through this date. Maybe an entire bottle, because her heart was beating out of her chest under his unyielding gaze.
“Exquisite.” His voice, so soft and crisp, licked at a spot behind her neck she couldn’t quite reach.
Elnora squeezed her legs tighter, craving an endless and reckless night of passion in his arms; under him, over him, it really didn’t matter.
She wanted to experience him, and perhaps they could skip whatever this was and just get to relieving all that steam.
But Marcy had insisted on her not turning this into just another fling. Elnora sighed and sat upright in her chair. She was used to impulsive, no-strings-attached entanglements, and Mason was a prime specimen for that.
Yet he came when she couldn’t… Well, she could, she’d just have to keep it from Marcy, and that was the impossible task.
“This place is an interesting choice,” she said. “You come here often?”
“Not particularly.” His tone said he wouldn’t elaborate.
He was the kind of man who always got what he wanted—who he wanted—and a blind date with a complete stranger was out of character for him.
“We should head out.” He smiled a little like he was offering something and was sure she knew what it was.
But Elnora ignored his remark. The last thing she wanted was for him to know the effect he had on her.
“I suppose you’re used to women falling at your feet?”
His eyes flared, burning with a newfound intensity that warmed her. “Not at all. I prefer my women squared up, a lot naughty, and domineering.”
Elnora watched as he leaned against the table, closer to her. His eyes squinted at her with a dangerous edge, and she felt tempted to feel his well-groomed medium stubble beard.
She was curious about him, and while she’d give anything to have him take her fast and hard before her toes curled into oblivion—she couldn’t just yet.
“I intend to take my time with you, Elnora.” Mason rose and went to her.
With a smile, he held his hand out to her. Elnora slipped her hand into his, and he pulled her up, his gaze searching hers. Her name on his lips sizzled like ice in a scorching furnace.
Then Mason leaned in low, so those full lips brushed lightly against her ear. Her eyes slipped closed against the scent of his cologne, and she rolled her tongue over her pink-stained lips.
“The best things are meant to be savored,” he purred, his breath fanning hot against her skin.