After being stood up by her online lover, Sarah, a former high school teacher and recent divorcee crosses paths with an ex-student. Daniel, an Irish/Italian one-time street thug with a violent past, soft heart, and the sexiest eyes she has ever stared into is now a grown man and owns the hottest night-club in Perth.
When they see each other again, Sarah cannot deny the mutual attraction burning between them. But will Daniel's past threaten what chances they have of finally giving in to their long held and once-forbidden desires? And can Sarah let down the wall she has so carefully constructed around her heart?
Daniel sucked in a sharp breath and slowly drank in Sarah’s shiny, golden waves, those amazing grey-blue eyes of hers, and that lush, full bottom lip that immediately had his heart punching against his ribcage. She was even more beautiful than he’d remembered.
“I saw you in the restaurant, alone, and…” He shook his head and inwardly cursed himself for sounding so dopey.
She cleared her throat and appeared lost for words. Beneath the soft glow of the streetlight, Daniel could see her eyes, wide with surprise, drinking him in. He wondered if she even remembered him. Perhaps, when he’d been a desperate and horny teenager, he had only imagined the connection between them.
Embarrassment warmed his cheeks. All at once everything came rushing back: the long lost ache of need that used to torture his heart and body, and the long forgotten dream of sweeping Sarah away from her arsehole, slut husband, and giving her a good life.
“Daniel! I…” She sucked in a deep breath through her nose before smiling wide. “I saw you too, but I wasn’t certain…I didn’t think-” Sarah paused, her mouth slightly parted as her eyes travelled the length of his body. “I didn’t think it was you.”
Daniel rested an arm against a nearby streetlight, trying his best to appear casual while his heart worked at hammering a hole in his chest.
“So what have you been up to?” she asked, quickly, resting the huge painting she was carrying against her legs.
There was an element of surprise and perhaps awe in her soft, low voice and it gave Daniel a small thrill to know that he was shocking her with this other version of himself—the polar opposite to the hopeless case he’d been ten years ago.
“I’m on my way to work,” he said, shrugging, not wanting to talk about himself. “You? Are you still teaching?”
She shook her head, her cheeks tinting. He wondering if she was recalling the many times he’d propositioned her in the classroom.
Daniel tapped his fingers against the cool metal streetlight as Sarah cast her eyes on the passing traffic, giving him the perfect opportunity to sneak in a good look.
She was wearing a strapless dress beneath her coat, showing off the graceful slope of her neck, the swell of her breasts, and her shapely legs. His hands itched to close around her tiny waist and drag her to him so that he could feel the softness of her curves against him, and so that he could protect her from the icy wind that snaked between them. But of course that would be weird and he’d probably earn a punch in the nose. It had been ten years after all.
“So why are you alone tonight?” he asked. “Where’s that husband of yours?”
Sarah sighed and shook her head, eyes on the pavement. For a second Daniel regretted his words. He hadn’t meant to cause her pain.
“Glen and I are divorced,” she said eventually, her eyes shooting up to meet his.
Daniel whistled through his teeth, trying not to appear too happy. He should tell her he was sorry, but that would be lying—she was better off without that prick—so he said nothing.
A rowdy group of twenty-something women dressed in tight, barely there dresses and skyscraper heels, click-clacked and sashayed their way down the street as though it wasn’t the middle of winter. Passing car horns beeped and random men whistled at them, but the girls only had eyes for Daniel, promising to see him later at the club. After waving them off, he caught Sarah staring up at him. She seemed impressed and confused at the same time.
“So were you supposed to be meeting someone tonight?” he asked before he could smack himself in the mouth and shut the hell up. No woman wanted to be reminded of the fact she’d been stood up.
Sarah glanced down and traced a finger along the edge of the picture frame, then attempted (and failed) to cover the title, Alone, with her free hand. Daniel followed her hand with his eyes but said nothing.
“Yes. But he…” She shrugged and blushed deeper before she grimaced. “Not anymore.”
Daniel felt his chest tighten, first with compassion and then with anger. What kind of an idiot would stand this beautiful woman up? He watched her fidget with the painting some more, until he couldn’t stand it any longer.
“Good, so you’re free.”
He swept the picture up and tucked it beneath his arm. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing, but the adrenaline pumping through his veins kept him thinking on the fly. “I need to get back to work but I want you to come with me, now, and see it.”
“See what, exactly?”
“The business that I run,” he said, enjoying the look of surprise on her face. He offered her his arm. “We opened ten minutes ago.”
A smile softened her lips. “So what exactly do you do?”
“It’s a surprise,” he said, offering her his arm again.
She stared at it, her lashes low while her gaze strayed over the fringe of a tattoo peaking from beneath his shirtsleeve. He wondered if she was the type of woman to be turned on or off by tattoos. On, he hoped, thinking about the others decorating his body that were hidden beneath his clothes.
He wondered what was running through her mind. Surely she was questioning how the hell he had gone from a street-thug to dining at Carters and owning his own business.
Warm fingers slid across his arm. Daniel sucked in a sharp breath and cleared his throat. It had been ten years since he’d felt her touch, and it took all of his inner strength to not drag her into his arms.