Thief (Love Me With Lies #3)
Author:Fisher, Tarryn

O: Well?

 

I smile to myself and finish my espresso before answering.

 

Well, what?

 

There is a long pause. She’s thinking about how to suck the information out of me without sounding like she cares.

 

O: Don’t play games!

 

I remember the last time you asked me not to do that. I think we were in an orange grove.

 

O: Fuck you. What did you think of Noah?

 

Nice

 

What did you think of Jess?

 

O: Same stupid slut

 

I crack up. The other patrons of the café turn to see what I’m laughing at.

 

I gather up my things to leave. She always did get right to the point. I am almost to my car when my phone pings again.

 

O: Don’t fall in love with her

 

I stare at that message for a long time. One minute — three. What does she want from me? I don’t respond. I feel like she’s punched me.

 

And that’s it. I don’t hear from her for another year.

 

 

 

 

 

The first time I saw her — my God — it was like I’d never seen another woman in all my life. It was the way she walked that caught my eye. She moved like water: fluid, determined. Everything else blended together in a blur and all I saw was her. The only solid in all that color. I smiled when she stopped under this grotesque, twisted-looking tree and gave it the single dirtiest look I had ever seen. I’d never even noticed the tree before, though it was one of those things that when you see it, you wonder how you’d ever missed it. One of my friends punched me on the arm to get my attention. We’d been talking about basketball. The coach put half the team on suspension for smoking pot, and now we had to get through the last few games with our best players benched for the rest of the season. But the conversation had ended for me the minute I saw her. They followed my eyes, gave each other knowing looks. I had somewhat of a reputation in regards to women. They were still calling out remarks when I stepped under the tree. Her back was to me. She had the type of hair you wanted to wrap your hands in — dark and wild, all the way to her tiny waist. My first words to her should have been: Will you marry me? Instead, I went with: “Why are you angry with this tree?”

 

She spun on me so fast I drew back. She set me on my axis, wobbling and unsure. These were all feelings I was not well acquainted with. The rest of our exchange pockmarked my ego.

 

“Just a question, Sunshine, don’t attack.” Holy shit, she was hostile.

 

“Can I help you with something?” she snapped.

 

“I was interested in finding out why this tree made you frown.” It was lame, but what the hell else was I supposed to say? She’d either had a really bad day, or she was always like this, and either way I was compelled to stand in the shade and talk to her.

 

Suddenly, she looked tired. “Are you trying to flirt with me?”

 

Damn. This had turned into one of the strangest female encounters I’d ever had. So, I told her my name.

 

“I’m sorry, what?”

 

“My name…” I offered her my hand. I just wanted to touch her. She was ice cold. It was like her personality seeped out of her skin. She pulled her little hand away too quickly.

 

“Yes, I was trying to flirt with you, until you shot me down, that is.” I don’t think in all the days I’d been alive and breathing, I’d ever shaken hands with a girl I wanted. It was awkward. For her too. Her brow creased, and she looked around the parking lot like she wanted someone to come save her.

 

“Listen, I’d love to stand around and feed into your ego with chit-chattery, but I have to go.”

 

Chit-chattery. She just made up a word and used it in a sentence to insult me. God. Who the hell was this woman? And if I could get her to stop being hostile, what would she taste like? She had already started walking away. I had to do something or say something that would at least make her remember me. So, I decided to insult her back.

 

“If you were born an animal — you’d be a llama,” I called after her. It was true. I happened to really like llamas. They were reserved and they always gave you the stink eye. When you pissed them off, they spat at you. I’d seen it happen to my brother at a petting zoo once. That’s when they became my favorite animal. But, she didn’t know that. She just knew I was comparing her to an animal. And it pissed her off.

 

“I’ll see you around,” I said, before turning away. And I would. I was going to chase this chilly, abrasive woman. I’d chase her all the way to her fucking ice palace and melt it down if I had to. I was used to women wanting me; she wanted nothing to do with me — wouldn’t even tell me her name. As I watched her walk away I knew two things: I wanted her, and it was going to be a lot of work.