He was nobody. And he didn’t want her to look at him like all the other girls did. He wanted her to look at him like he was a man. Just a man. “Blimey! You know what? I don’t know even know your name.”
“Blimey?” She smiled, and her eyes sparkled up at him. “I like the way you talk. I could listen to it all night.”
“Great. It’s settled.” He grabbed her hand. “Name?”
She didn’t pull away, and that smile struck again. She could disarm the entire Royal Navy with a simple smile if she set her mind to it. “I’m Alexis, but you can call me Lexi.”
“Pleased to meet you. Now that names are out of the way … care to go to dinner with me, Lexi?”
“I’m not interested in a relationship right now,” she said flatly. “At all.”
He dropped her hand and backed away from her. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down a second. I didn’t say anything about relationships. I only mentioned dinner and getting shitfaced. Don’t take advantage of me just yet.”
“I-I didn’t mean to … I mean I … ” She turned bright red and covered her cheeks with her hands. “Oh God. This is horrible.”
He wagged a finger at her. “And before you go and propose marriage to me—no, I don’t need a green card. I’m well and dandy in that aspect.”
She blinked up at him then burst into laughter. “You’re messing with me, aren’t you?”
He held his thumb and pointer finger up, holding them close together “Perhaps a wee bit.” He grinned. “Now, about our non-committal, non-relationship-forming dinner … ?”
She pointed at him, one hand on her hip. “It’s not a date.”
“Of course not.” He offered his arm. “It’s a distraction.”
She eyed his arm as if he offered her a lift into a pit full of snakes instead of a meal. She took a deep breath, slid her hand into his arm, and led him out of the alley. “This is me being spontaneous and accepting a dinner invite from the strange man who knocked me on my ass in an alley on July 4th. Let it be marked in the official court records, in case you kill me tonight.”
“Consider it duly recorded.” He fought back a triumphant grin. “So, I know this nice little Italian place in SoHo—”
She snorted. “In America, we don’t do Italian food on the fourth of July. We do burgers, beer, and fireworks. If you’re going out with a Yank on this night of all nights, then you’ll be one, too.”
He shuddered. “Perish the thought.”
Chuckling, she tugged him closer and led him out onto the packed sidewalks. “By the end of the night, I’ll have you singing the national anthem as the fireworks explode over the Statue of Liberty.”
He raised a brow. Not likely. After all, he needed to save his voice for tomorrow. If anything, he should back out of dinner and go home. Rest. “We’ll see about that.”
Gary had told him to go out and have fun … and he was nothing if not cooperative.
Lexi stole a peek at Justin, hoping she hadn’t just agreed to go out with a crazy, ax-wielding madman. She didn’t pick up random men off of the street and go out with them. She was sensible. Smart. Organized.
Not impulsive and daring.
But then again … he was right. She really needed a distraction. And people went on blind dates all the time. She at least knew what Justin looked like, if nothing else. Should she snap a picture of him and text it to her sister in case he was a murderer? Pulling her Blackberry out, she switched it onto silent and snapped a picture as best as she could while walking down a crowded NYC street and trying not to be so obvious about it.
She got his shoulder.
Oh well. She’d just be murdered and he would escape without being caught. No biggie. She stole another glance at him and he smiled. Looking away quickly, she ducked her head to hide the blush of her cheeks. He didn’t look like a murderer. If he was, at least he was a hot one.
While they hadn’t exactly met under the best of circumstances, he’d made her laugh a few times despite it. Already, he’d proved to be a diversion. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had made her laugh. Made her want to flirt and have fun and be free. This was a hard time of year for her and she’d chosen to spend it alone, mourning with a bottle of wine, sometimes two.
Alone. Missing her fiancé. Her dead fiancé. It still hurt to think about him. To miss him. And tonight? She’d been missing him a lot. Right up until she fell in that puddle. After that, she’d been too distracted by Justin to feel sorry for herself. For the first time in the past year, she felt like doing something other than missing him. She felt like being with someone other than herself.
She was freaking sick of herself.
A taxi zoomed by and the driver shouted at someone to “move out of the f**king road,” and she snapped out of her thoughts. “So, why are you here in America? Why come all the way out here to work on the stage if you can do it back home?”
“Are you mad?” He looked at her as if she’d sprouted two heads. “It’s bloody Broadway. Every actor—,” he broke off and looked over his shoulder at the theater, “—and c-crewman would kill for the opportunity to work here. To soak in the lights and the applause. To be in this city. The better question is, ‘why wouldn’t I choose New York?’ Everything about this city screams culture and the arts.”
When he spoke, his voice carried a lilting quality usually reserved for singers. As if he were singing. Perfect breath spans and pauses. And his accent? She could listen to him drone on about the freaking weather and be perfectly content just sitting there for hours. Perhaps he was an aspiring actor, or a singer. Besides, isn’t every waitress here an aspiring actress? It was the city of dreams, after all.
Or so they said.
He pulled her against his side, moving her out of the way of a woman barreling toward them with a double stroller. The contact sent a jolt of desire pinging through her, and she pulled away stiffly. She shouldn’t be feeling that for another man … should she?
Flushing, she hurried for something to say. What had they been talking about again? The weather? His hot accent? Her inappropriate reaction to his touch? “Uh … I see your point. I guess I just didn’t realize the same held true for the crew members. But then again, you’re not just a crewman, are you?”