E.A. West

Providing journeys of hope, one story at a time

Spunk by E.A. West

Copyright 2008 by E.A. West, All Rights Reserved.

Originally published in the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of The Chick Lit Review
Cover image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Spunk cover art

“Mari, check out the stationary bikes.”

I accepted the bottle of water Anna, my best friend and roommate, handed me and looked across the gym. Leaning on a stationary bike was the most gorgeous personal trainer Hillside had ever seen. Tall, muscular to perfection, and tan, his sun-streaked hair and blue eyes made every woman at the gym drool. And he was looking straight at me. Again.

I glanced at Anna. “How long do you think it will take him to actually say something to me?”

“He still hasn’t spoken to you?” Anna’s dark eyebrows shot up and disappeared behind very blonde bangs. “He’s been looking at you for what, a week?”

“You make it sound like he’s stalking me. And yes, it’s been a week.” I took a sip of water as I admired my admirer. “Maybe I’ll have to take the initiative and go talk to him.”

“Go for it.”

Anna took my water bottle and tilted her head toward Mr. Fitness. Like I needed the encouragement. I’d been watching him a whole lot longer than a week.

His expression filled with appreciation as I crossed the room, and I knew my daily visits to the gym were worth it. Of course, my black bike shorts and skin-tight tank didn’t hurt. Neither did the slight sway I put in my hips.

I put my hands on those hips when I reached him and looked up about six inches to meet his sapphire gaze. “Do you only watch women or do you talk to them as well?”

His rich laugh filled the room, earning looks from the other early morning exercisers. “You have spunk. I like that.”

“Care to tell me why you’ve been watching me for a week?” He liked spunk? I could give him more spunk than he could handle.

“Do you have a problem with me admiring a thing of beauty, such as yourself?”

Ooh, that could almost make me swoon. Almost, but not quite. “My name’s Mari Drake.”

“Hello, Mari, I’m Geoff Mitchell.” He grinned and shook my hand.

Electricity shot up my arm at his warm touch, sending tingles down my spine. This man’s virility didn’t stop! If I weren’t careful, I’d turn into a giggling puddle of femininity.

He didn’t seem to notice as he continued to hold my hand, his thumb gently rubbing the back and bringing me closer to melting at his feet. “What do you say we go out to dinner? Maybe tonight?”

“Tonight is good.” And I plan on wearing something to make you melt at my feet.

****

I sent another shot of hairspray to the auburn curls framing my face and set the bottle on the counter. Turning to the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door, I smiled at the image. A sleeveless, pale blue dress clung to the figure I worked so hard on, the V-neck revealing just enough to intrigue any man. The flared skirt barely brushed the tops of my knees. Geoff would definitely become a puddle at the silver high-heeled sandals I retrieved from my closet. Silver bangles around my left wrist and a delicate silver chain holding a filigree butterfly just above the neckline of my dress completed the outfit.

When I stepped into the living room, Anna jumped up from her seat on the couch and squealed. “He is going to positively drool when he sees you!”

I lifted a perfectly plucked brow. “That’s the whole point. He claims he likes spunk; he’s going to find out just how good spunk can look.” The intercom by the door buzzed, and I walked over to answer. “Yes?”

“It’s Geoff.”

Even with the distortion of the intercom, his voice held a silky quality. “Come on up.”

After pressing the button to let him in, I turned to find Anna staring at me. “Mari, how can you be so calm with that Greek god on his way up here to take you out?”

I grinned, allowing her a glimpse of the giddiness I felt. “Nerves and spunk don’t mix.”

Anna laughed as I opened the door and leaned on the frame. My gaze stayed glued to the stairs. I wanted to see the reaction to his first glimpse of me. If I just happened to lean against the frame a little more dramatically than necessary, who could blame me? With a man that hot coming to pick me up, why not give him a vision to cherish?

Geoff appeared at the top of the stairs and turned toward me. I was suddenly glad for the support of the doorframe. Khaki pants and a green polo shirt accentuated every well-toned muscle in his body. I composed myself just before his gaze landed on me. When it did, a slow smile formed on his full lips and lit up his chiseled features.

“If only I were met by a goddess everywhere I go,” Geoff said as he approached, his gaze running over me again. His expression let me know the hour I’d spent getting ready had been worth the work.

I smiled, lowering my eyelids flirtatiously as I straightened up. “Come in while I get my purse, then we can go.”

He followed me into the apartment, and Anna stood up with an awestruck smile. I flashed her a grin hidden from Geoff, then I turned to him. “Geoff, this is my roommate, Anna. I’ll be right back.”

My skirt swirled around my thighs as I sashayed into my room. I grabbed the small silver purse off my bed and slipped the slender strap over my shoulder, taking one last glance in the mirror before returning to the living room.

Geoff stood listening to Anna sing my praises. I fought the urge to roll my eyes as he shifted his gaze to me. Those gorgeous blue eyes sent tingles through my entire body. If I spent much time with him, I’d have to work on my reaction so I’d be more spunky than swooning. Couldn’t let him think I was the kind of girl who drooled over men like him. No one ever said a woman had to let a man in on all her secrets.

Geoff raised his eyebrows. “Ready?”

“Of course.”

Anna turned toward me, her back to Geoff, and indicated him as she mouthed, “So hot.” She moved to look at both of us as I joined him, and she spoke in an audible voice. “You two have fun.”

“See you later.” I had a hard time not laughing at her obvious infatuation with his looks.

Geoff’s winning smile nearly sent her to the floor in a dead faint. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Anna.”

“Same here,” she stammered, her gaze filled with adoration.

I hooked my arm through Geoff’s muscular one and guided him to the door, preventing my poor roommate from embarrassing herself further. As we went downstairs, he glanced at me with an amused expression.

“Your roommate seems nice. She thinks you’re about as close to perfect as a woman can get.”

I couldn’t help myself. I actually giggled. “It’s nice to know she didn’t tell you all my dirty little secrets.”

He looked intrigued. “What kind of dirty secrets could an advertising executive with a deep compassion for orphans in Romania have?”

“I see she gave you the PR version of me.”

He laughed. “And you have expertly sidestepped the question.”

“I know.”

When we arrived at his new black Mustang, I reluctantly released his arm. If nothing else, I’d have some good dreams tonight.

He drove us to Chez Anthony, proving he not only looked good but had good taste as well. Chez Anthony had opened only a few months ago and become an instant success. Wrought iron tables and chairs, drip candles in dark green wine bottles, and fresh flowers everywhere lent a cozy atmosphere to what would otherwise be a pretentious restaurant.

Anthony himself greeted us just inside the door. After placing an air kiss on both of my cheeks, he turned his attention to Geoff. “And who is this friend of the lovely Miss Drake?”

I laughed at his flattery. “This is Geoff Mitchell.”

“Ah, Mr. Mitchell.” Anthony grasped Geoff’s hand with both of his. “Any friend of Miss Drake is a friend of Anthony. Her advertising genius is the reason for my success.”

“I only provided the motivation for the public to come in. Your excellent cuisine and marvelous service are what keep them coming back.”

Anthony waved his hand in the air. “Bah, modest to a fault, that’s what you are. Come, I have the perfect table for you.”

He seated us at a small table in a quiet corner. After telling us the day’s specials, he took our drink orders and left us to study menus.

I glanced up to find Geoff studying me instead. “Already decided?”

He gave me a slow smile that sent waves of warmth through my veins. “Just enjoying the view.”

I laughed at his obvious flirting. “We’re already having dinner together. You don’t have to keep up the flattery.”

He laid his menu on the table and reached for my hand. “Who’s flattering? Even though you won’t tell me any of your secrets, I’ll tell you one of mine. I’ve watched you at the gym for quite a while. You have no idea how shocked and thrilled I was when you walked over to talk to me this morning.”

As if his masculinity wasn’t enough to turn me to mush, now he had to bring out a sensitive side. I realized he was waiting for me to say something. “You’re not the only one who was shocked. I could barely believe you asked me out. You know that secret you asked about? I tend to intimidate men with my spunk.”

He smiled and lifted my hand, barely touching his lips to the back. “I told you I like spunk. Something about it makes you even sexier.”

If he had any idea how sexy kissing my hand made him, I’d be in big trouble. Thankfully, Anthony returned with our drinks. Geoff released my hand and picked up his menu. As I watched him order, I only had one thought on my mind; the night ahead promised to be an interesting one. And if my spunky self had her way, this would only be the first in a long string of interesting nights.