“Do you think there’s any correlation between intelligence and being good in bed?” I inhaled from the tiny remnant of rolled-up paper and held it in my lungs as I passed the joint to my best friend. At least this round I didn’t choke and cough for five minutes. Neither of us had smoked pot in ten years, not since high school. It seemed fitting to mark the official end of our childhood by lighting up what Anna had confiscated from her sixteen-year-old brother yesterday.
“I’m about to marry a man who creates robots that can learn how to think. Of course I’m going to say smart guys are better in bed. I mean, Derek can solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than thirty seconds. A vagina is a lot less complicated.”
“His friend Adam’s sweet. But he spent the last hour talking to me about some algorithm he’s building for an artificial intelligence robot named Lindsey. My only contribution to the conversation was alternating between wow and that’s fascinating. Can you tell Derek he needs to find stupider friends?”
Anna inhaled and spoke while trying not to exhale, causing her voice to rise two octaves. “He went to MIT and works at a tech firm—not much of a pool of stupid people to pick from.” She bumped her shoulder with mine. “That’s why I need you to move out here. I can’t handle being surrounded by smart people all the time.”
“Very nice.” I sighed. “At least Adam is sort of cute.”
“So, I take it you’ll be breaking your dry spell tonight?”
“Maybe tomorrow night after the wedding.” I smirked. “If he’s lucky. I’m still on New York time. Tonight I’ll be ready to go to bed alone by the time they serve dessert.”
The bride-to-be and I were hiding from the rest of the rehearsal dinner guests behind an ivy-covered lattice arch in the courtyard of the restaurant. A deep, throaty voice scared the heck out of me, and I almost knocked the damn thing over.
“He’d be the lucky one, huh? Do you look as good from the front as you do the back, or are you just full of yourself?”
“Who the hell…?” I turned to find a man walking toward us in the dark. “Why don’t you mind your own damn business?”
The guy took a few more strides and stepped into the overhead spotlight Anna and I had attempted to avoid. My eyes nearly bulged from my head. He was gorgeous. Tall, damn tall—I was five foot four and had on five-inch heels and still had to crane my neck to look up at him. He had dark, sexy hair that looked like it could use a haircut but totally worked for him. Tanned skin, carved square jaw, a five o’clock shadow that probably grew back in two hours from all the testosterone this guy exuded. His eyes were a light blue that popped out from his dark complexion, and tiny crow’s feet flawed the skin around his eyes in a way that made me think he smiled often. And that smile. It wasn’t really a full smile—more of a crooked, cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smirk.
The entire package of man was a lot to take in at once. But while I stood there speechless, Anna threw her arms around his neck.
I hoped she knew him and wasn’t just more wasted than I thought.
“Hunter! You made it.”
“Of course I did. I wouldn’t miss my best buddy tying the knot with his girl. Sorry I’m so late. I was up in Sacramento on business and had to rent a car and drive back when they canceled my flight this afternoon.”
The gorgeous eavesdropper turned his attention to me. Starting at my feet, he did a slow, incredibly rude, yet seductive sweep over my body. My nipples hardened while I watched his afternoon-blue-sky eyes darken to hazy sunset as they traveled all over me.
When he was done, our gazes met. “Yep, you do.”
Reading the confused look on my face, Hunter clued me in. “You look as good from the front as you do from the back. You’re right. Whoever you’re planning on sleeping with is damn lucky.”
My mouth hung open. I couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy…yet my skin was beginning to tingle.
“Adam,” Anna offered. “He’s her partner in the wedding. She’s going to sleep with Adam tomorrow night.”
Hunter extended his hand to me with a nod. “Hunter Delucia. Got a name, beautiful? Or should I just call you the Adam-fucker?”
For some inexplicable reason, I knew in the pit of my stomach that putting my hand in his was a bad idea. My body and his should never touch, not even once. Yet I did it anyway.
“Nat Rossi,” I said, giving him my hand.
“Nat? Is that short for something?”
“Natalia. But no one calls me that.”
He smiled again. “Very nice to meet you, Natalia.”
Hunter kept my hand cupped in his as he turned his attention back to Anna. “And why is Adam paired up with the beautiful Natalia and not me?”
My friend snorted. She was definitely stoned. “Because you two would kill each other.”
He seemed to like that answer. His eyes crinkled, and he returned his gaze to me. “Is that so?”
I felt electricity zapping between us, although something told me this was electricity harnessed from lightning in a storm. The last time I’d felt a physical reaction so strong to anyone was when I met Garrett. My delicate heart still had a hole in it from that lightning bolt.
“Do you remember when Derek’s brother Andrew lost his job and was having a hard time in social situations?” Anna asked him. “He started to stay in too often, and I was nervous he was turning into an agoraphobe?”
“Yeah,” Hunter said. “I remember. It was a few years back.”
“I suggested he find a therapist to work with, help him get over a difficult time and his fears. And what did you say?”
“I said you were nuts, and he needed a swift kick in his lazy ass and a job.”
Anna smiled. “Nat here is a behavioral therapist. She visits people with anxiety disorders and works on breaking the habits that cause them stress.”
His brows rose. “That’s an actual thing?”
I slipped my hand from his. “It is. I work mostly with people who have obsessive-compulsive disorders.”
“Well, whatta you know? I thought you were making that shit up.”
“Hunter is a builder,” Anna continued. “He builds large projects like shopping malls. You know, the kind where they need to clear the land of all the trees to build a mile of Gap, Baby Gap, and Abercrombies. He built the one that took over part of the park we used to go to uptown as kids—Medley Park. He and Derek grew up together. They don’t get to see each other often because Hunter travels around the country for months at a time on projects.”