Forget You Not (Reclusive #2)

By: Harloe Rae


Seven years earlier . . .

Working at a restaurant sucks sometimes. Like right now.

Why is it so slow?

Usually Friday afternoons bring in a decent lunch crowd but that’s definitely not the case today. The other host got cut an hour ago after we finished rolling two full bins of silverware. I’ve been stuck at the front alone ever since, trying to keep myself preoccupied by doodling in my notepad while desperately hoping a customer strolls in. I’d even accept the overly chatty manager from the bank across the street at this rate.

Just as I’m starting to draw another cartoon heart, the outer door swings open and a relieved sigh whooshes from me. I toss my pen aside and slide the decorated paper into my apron. When my focus returns to the person coming in, my breath stalls in my lungs.

I’d usually have a polite smile plastered across my face as I rushed forward to greet the guests but my entire body is frozen solid due to the stunning sight before me. Tingles erupt along my skin as my heart takes off in a sprint, but I still can’t move.

The most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen is only a few feet away and my stomach nervously tangles in a complicated twist. He’s tall and broad, easily over six feet, which swallows up my petite frame. Probably a few years older than me, this guy still has a hint of youth lighting up his smooth features. My pulse skyrockets as I get trapped in his swirling ocean irises that remind me of a tropical paradise. I remain suspended in my paralyzed state as he approaches the host stand with a confident stride.

Wow, he’s beautiful.

My cheeks heat with that thought and I dip my head to hide the flush covering my face. I attempt a sneaky peek by glancing up at him through my lowered lashes. When my gaze connects with his, I notice a sexy smirk lifting his lips and it tightens my chest further.

Crap, I’m totally busted.

I clear my parched throat so I can properly greet him before getting fired for gawking, but he beats me to it.

“Hey.” He pauses with an audible swallow and I watch his Adam’s apple bob. A soft chuckle rises from him as he rubs over his left pec. “Wow, you’re really beautiful. Is that weird for me to say? Shit.” His feet shuffle nervously as his gaze lowers to the floor before quickly focusing on me again. “I feel really creepy blurting it out but that’s the truth. Sorry if I’m being super awkward. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Tell me to stop talking.” He laughs again before sucking in a deep breath. “What’s your name?” His voice is like melted chocolate filling my hungry stomach. His extremely good looks match the silky-smooth timbre that’s thrumming my bones. He seems anxious, which makes my heart race even faster.

As I continue silently staring at him, I determine he’s my every teenage fantasy come to life and reminds me of Ryan Gosling from The Notebook. All striking blue eyes and dark-blond hair that’s the perfect length to run your fingers through. That’s what I’m talking about.

I do my best to collect my stray thoughts before wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans. I lock my wobbling knees and stand up straight, then raise my chin to meet his burning stare.

“Umm, hello. Thanks for coming to Brack’s Box. My name is Lark and I’ll be showing you to a table. How many are in your party? Oh, I should have asked if you were dining in or carrying out. Will you be eating here?” I feel like a total idiot as my speech fumbles and bumbles. My tone is shaking worse than my trembling hands. At least he appears flustered too.

The sexy stranger moves closer until he’s hovering on the edge of my personal space. His chest seems to shudder as he reaches out and traces a jagged line from my temple to my jaw with a coarse finger. Electric shocks spark along the skin he touched and a small gasp escapes me. I’ve never had this type of reaction before and it has a hoard of love-struck butterflies taking flight in my belly.

“You’re blushing, Lark. Are you nervous too?” His whispered words rush across the small space between us and I shudder in response.

Could I be more embarrassed?

I roll my shoulders back in an effort to infuse my body with strength.

“What? No. No way. Why would you think that? That’s just silly.” I toss out a lame chuckle—as if he has no effect on me—before taking a step away from him. If my boss came out here and saw me standing so close to a customer, I’d be in serious crap.

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