Matt’s heart stopped beating. Cliché, Partridge. Watch the clichés. Still, that’s what it felt like. Walking straight toward him, like he was being pulled on a rubber string, strode that huge hunk of gorgeous he’d seen two nights before. The one related to Cole Harker’s husband. The man moved like an animal, gliding and rippling, and the big bulge in the front of his jeans advertised another kind of animal. Big Bird! Shit, the thing had to be at least at half-mast, and it looked huge. Matt wanted to fall down and worship.
Control. Deep breath. He’ll probably walk right by.
Sweet Jesus, he stopped right in front of the table.
“Hi. I’m Winter Thane. I saw you here the other night with my, uh, cousin by marriage, Cole Harker.”
Matt swallowed. Try to be cool. “Yes, I remember he went to speak with you. I’m Matt Partridge.”
Matt’s eyes widened. Had Winter asked about him? “Would you, uh, care to join me?”
Trying not to stare at the play of muscle in those hard thighs and the large bulge between proved more than he was up to. When he glanced up from his inspection, Winter Thane gazed at him with a small smile. It said Caught ya. Matt cleared his throat. “Uh, I was just about to order a beer. Would you like another?”
“No, I’m good, thanks.” Winter wrapped his beautifully shaped lips around the head of the bottle, seemed to lovingly caress it for a second, and then sucked down a drink.
Matt waved at the waitress, who hurried over, gazing at Winter most of the time. He ordered a beer, and she rushed off, actually bumping into a patron because she couldn’t stop staring over her shoulder. Who could blame her? Matt chuckled. “You must get that a lot.”
The guy shook that snowflake hair. “No. Where I’m from there aren’t a lot of females.”
“You must enjoy being here.” Matt swallowed.
Winter shrugged. “City guy like you’d be used to it. For me it’s new and pretty weird.”
Matt laughed. “Who’d look at me?”
Winter’s blue eyes flashed up. “Who wouldn’t?”
Matt’s mouth opened but nothing came out. Finally he got his brain and tongue connected. “So, uh, you’re visiting the area?”
Winter’s pale brows pulled together. “My father’s theory is we’re here to stay. I’d say the jury’s out.”
“Not a good experience so far?”
“An old Chinese curse said, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ So far the trip’s been interesting.” Those melted ice eyes raised slowly to Matt. “But it could get better.”
Every resolve Matt had ever made tried to dissolve in that field of blue. Come on, Partridge. You’re investigating these people. The arrival of the waitress felt like a lifeline, and he grabbed the bottle, threw way too much money on the table, and drank down half the contents in one pull.
“Thank you, sir.” She batted her eyes at Winter and left.
Winter pointed at the bottle. “Thirsty?”
“Uh, yes, I guess so.”
“So you’re the law?”
“How’d you know that?”
Winter grinned. “Aside from the haircut that speaks of gray suits and gray cars?”
Matt ducked his head and ran a hand over his carefully barbered light brown hair.
“Nah. It’s cute. Besides, I asked Ben Freedman about you.”
Matt’s heart leaped and stomach sank—the war of suspicion and desire. “Why?”
Again, the long, slow gaze. “I think you’re gorgeous.”
Matt frowned. Suspicion won. “Come on. Don’t give me that shit.”
Winter cocked his head. “You don’t believe me?”
“Of course not. Why would a guy like you think I’m gorgeous?” He drawled the word and narrowed his eyes. “Did you hear somewhere that I’m gay? What the fuck are you playing at?”
Winter smiled slowly. “I hoped you liked men. Or maybe I should say, I hoped you liked me.”
“Who the fuck wouldn’t like you?” He pushed his bottle away. “I should go.”
Winter’s hand clamped on his forearm. Long, slender fingers carved with sinew.
“Please don’t. I’m not a very civilized creature, so maybe I don’t know how to say what I feel.”
Matt tried to catch his breath. “And what’s that?”
“That I want to take you out into the trees and fuck you until you scream.”
Every cell in his body froze—except his cock, which expanded like someone was blowing it up through a hose. “Who told you I’m gay?”
“No one. I don’t know if you’re gay. I don’t know if I’m gay. I don’t give a damn. I just know I want to suck you and fuck you until daylight.”
Matt stared into those mesmerizing eyes, and his hands shook. He couldn’t look away. “People don’t say shit like that.”
“People don’t. I do.”