Can't Hurry Love(8)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer


Costanza had instantly been attracted to the young woman, but that was the thing. She was young. He ordered a coffee to go and watched her. She stood out in a crowd, and he wasn’t the only man looking. So when two young guys on the prowl approached her, he watched and then a jealous, protective feeling had him moving into action.

“You are way too beautiful to be sitting here all by yourself, honey. Can we join you?” the guy with the blond hair asked.

“She isn’t alone,” Costanza said, shocking not only the two young guys but Nina, whose face went flush as she pulled off her sunglasses. “Sorry,” one of the guys said and gave Nina a wink, tapping his buddy’s shoulder, obviously catching sight of the Glock on Costanza’s hip under his sports coat. They walked away, and Costanza looked down at Nina.

“Mr. Lopez—”

“What are you doing in Fulton all alone? Shouldn’t there be someone with you, protecting you?” he scolded, and she went to speak but then closed her mouth and lowered her head, her hands cupping the coffee cup as if she were cold. It was mid-eighties outside and warm. He scared her, and he felt a mix of emotions. Desire, need, and then guilt.

“Forget it. I’m here,” he said and took the seat right next to her. He stared at her, and she looked shocked.

“I was fine. I just came into town for some things and to get a coffee. I love their coffee, and it’s too hard to resist the aroma as it filters through the block,” she rambled. Her gorgeous green eyes darted around, and then she slowly looked at him.

“Well, you’re safe now. I’ll have to have a word with Francesca’s men about this. You shouldn’t be walking about on your own. Someone could try something. Like those two men, or the others who were watching you as you walked. Had you even noticed?” he continued to scold her. She shook her head. He exhaled.

“I’m fine, Mr. Lopez. Really. I was going to leave as soon as I finished this coffee,” she said and then placed her small, feminine hand onto the cup. She was ladylike, sweet, a delicate young woman who needed protection.

That wasn’t his job. He was older, too experienced and demanding. She would definitely be a delicacy to indulge in, but not a fling. No, he wasn’t stupid or naive. This woman affected him way too much and instantly.

“So, you mentioned you were in town shopping? Where at?” he asked and took a sip from the to-go cup. His eyes didn’t leave hers.

“Umm…the paint store and fabric shop. They’re two boutiques that carry upscale items and things for designing ideas, and books,” she said and then reached toward the chair with the shopping bags. She pulled out a book and placed it onto the table. She was precious, the way he flustered her, and her reaction was getting to him. She started flipping through the pages.

“My friend Melise, I mean she’s really Francesca’s friend, but I’ve been hanging out with them a lot, and well, she asked me to help redecorate her condo. It’s very upscale and beautiful. She has unique tastes so this store here in Fulton has great things,” she told him.

“Redecorate her condo? You know how to do that?” he asked, his curiosity about this young woman growing bigger.

“Yes, sir. It’s what I went to college for, and what I was doing when I graduated.”

Holy shit. The way she called him sir had his body reacting in a way that surprised him. He should be angry for being attracted to such youth and energy. He wasn’t though. Women threw themselves at him and his brothers not only because of their fortune but because of their good looks, and their demanding appetites. Why the fuck did he just think of his brothers, too? Why with her? No, never again would they engage in a ménage and not even one with no strings, just sex. Never again. It was a vulnerability that could have cost them everything.

“Where did you work before coming here to North Carolina?” he asked. She got quiet, closed up the book, and placed it back into her bag.

“Just a private little company in Manhattan. I worked with some major designers and got into doing redecorating for some big shots in businesses who owned penthouses. It was okay. I like the smaller jobs, and I’m pretty excited about helping Melise out,” she told him and then took a sip from her coffee cup.

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