Fallen Moon by Cate Cassidy
“Three tries, right?”
I nodded. “That’s right.”
His eyes glistened in the sun, holding me captive when they seemed to get impossibly brighter. Then, he winked at me, aimed for the wall, and let it go. I couldn’t look away from him, despite the dart whizzing through the air.
For a moment, I forgot I was supposed to feign surprise when the tip failed to pierce the balloon.
But when I finally tore my gaze from him, I was stunned to discover he’d managed to land his dart directly in the middle of a now deflated red balloon.
“Try not to look so surprised.”
The expression on his face revealed this wasn’t the first time he’d made winning a carnival game look like child’s play and I was the one who was being hustled, though he’d certainly paid more than enough for the crappy prize.
“Not surprised at all,” I replied casually. “So, you want the unicorn then?”
He walked over as I began to climb onto the counter, angling my body so I could reach the stuffed toy.
“Actually,” he moved even closer and pointed to a spot in the cluster of prizes right above my head. “I’ll take that one.”
My eyes flashed to where he pointed. “The gray wolf?”
“Yeah. Is that okay?”
I shrugged and pulled the plush animal from its spot before climbing down and holding it out to him. “It’s your prize. You can have whatever you want.”
Instead of accepting it, he stood there as though I had all the time in the world. Then something flickered in his gaze—something I couldn’t quite make out, but it certainly made me squirm. And I wasn’t a squirmer.
“In that case, I’d love to have dinner with you.”
Okay, so I wasn’t expecting that.
I fidgeted under the heat of his scrutiny, feeling a rush of fire ignite the insides of my thighs. Then his gaze moved lower, like a smooth caress, finally coming slowly back to my face. It was a frank look of admiration, which sent a quiver of heat down my spine.
But there was no way I was having dinner with him. Especially when dinner was probably code for hooking up.
Suddenly, I was way too conscious of how I looked. My t-shirt was just a little on the small side. My jeans—well, my jeans were just as tight, which meant I was probably muffin-topping all over the place. My long, brown hair, somewhat decent when it was combed thoroughly, was likely a ragged mess from working all day. I ran my fingers through it but pulled them back out when I snagged a knot.
No guy had ever looked at me this way before—like he wanted to rip my clothes off and ravage my body. It should’ve completely freaked me out, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t do something funny to my insides.
Get your shit together. Just say, no thanks.
His expression changed to one of confusion as I stood there staring at him.
“Sorry, I don’t eat dinner.”
“You don’t e—”
“I mean, of course, I eat,” I fumbled. “I just usually grab something quick because I’m too tired after work.”
I knew I sounded like an idiot, but he’d thrown me a curveball I wasn’t sure how to swing at.
“Sure, I’d love to have dinner with you sometime.”
What. Did. I. Just. Say?
Clearly, my hormones didn’t get the memo from my brain that we weren’t supposed to be interested.
“Great,” he replied, his grin going all dark and sexy around the edges. “I guess I should ask for your name.”
“Name?” He regarded me silently for a moment. “I’m Cody.”
I forced myself to look away, peering over his shoulder at a group of teenagers who were waiting to board the most nausea-inducing ride of them all, the Spinner.
“Oh, right.” I gulped down the ball of nervousness lodged in my throat before making eye contact again. I couldn’t believe I’d agreed to have dinner with this guy before we’d even exchanged names. “I’m Ember.”
“That’s a beautiful name. Nice to meet you, Ember.”
I shivered at the way he said my name—growled it more like, my body prickling with goosebumps as if just struck by a gust of chilly air, yet I was the farthest thing from cold.
“And you can keep that.” His gaze darted down to the stuffed animal I hadn’t realized I was still clutching in my hand. “You know, in both Greek and Norse mythologies, wolves were considered guardians of the gods. Maybe it’ll bring you some luck.”
“I don’t believe in luck,” I replied, my voice edged in steel. “And you forgot Fenrir, the ruthless predator who killed Odin. Not to mention Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t exactly lucky when she met up with a wolf.”
“Touché,” he murmured, boldly leaning forward and reaching out to brush a few wayward curls from my face. The ghosting caress of his fingertips left a trail of heat in their wake, stretching from my cheek to my ear.
I stilled at the touch—caught off guard that he was so daring but also at how good it felt.
“Sounds to me like she just met the wrong wolf.”
I wrinkled my brow in confusion, but before I could reply, he suddenly turned his attention to something off in the distance. Then his smile disappeared and was replaced by a look of confusion. Finally, his gaze returned to mine.
“I better get going, but I’ll be in touch, okay?”
I frowned at his sudden change of heart.
Was he seriously blowing me off after just asking if I’d have dinner with him?
“Don’t you want my number?”
Something flickered in his eyes then, but it was gone so fast I wondered if I’d imagined it. “I don’t need it.” His voice had roughened, deepened. “I know where to find you.”
He turned to walk away. But he paused, and I prayed he’d set a date and time, something—anything—as a promise, I’d get a chance to lose myself in the depths of his eyes once again. Instead, he murmured something I couldn’t quite make out, and then he was gone.