Beat of the Heart

Page 18

"Whatever. I still don't like it," I replied glumly, before glancing down at the menu.

When she tugged my hand, I met her mischievous gaze. "I could promise to make it up to you later," she suggested coyly.

My brows rose in surprise. "Just what did you have in mind?"

Tilting her head, she tapped her finger on her chin. "Maybe some special attention…of the oral kind?"

I opened my mouth but a waiter, who couldn't have been more than twenty, appeared at the table. "Hiya, Mia, sorry to interrupt."

Pink tinged Mia's cheeks. "Hi Pauley."

Glancing between them, I said, "Lemme guess. He's one of your cousins?"

Pauley bobbed his head as he sat down two glasses of water. "First cousins. My dad and Duke are brothers." He eyed me suspiciously for a moment. "Hey, I know you-you're the guy in the band. Uncle Duke calls you Drummer Boy, always tells us to give you the best cut of meat."

I laughed. "Yep, that's me."

With a grin, Pauley held out his hand. "Pauley Martinelli."

"AJ Resendiz." I paused before adding, "Mia's gay friend."

Mia had just taken a sip of water, and my comment sent her hacking and sputtering. "Sorry," she replied in a strangled voice as she mopped up the water.

Rubbing her back, Pauley asked, "You okay, cuz?"


"Good. Thanks."

When he was sure Mia was okay, he took out his envelope. "Since you both are regulars, I'm guessing I don't need to go through all the house specials and stuff, huh?"

"No, that won't be necessary," I replied.

"So the usual for you Mia-the Sicilian Special along with a glass of Prosecco?" Pauley questioned.

Shifting uncomfortably in her seat, Mia replied, "Erm, no, I'll have the Prosecco, but give me the Chicken Caesar Salad instead."

As Pauley's brows rose in surprise, I cleared my throat. "Give her what she usually has." Mia opened her mouth to protest, but I held up a hand to silence her. "Please do not be one of those chicks who thinks she can't eat around a guy. I like a girl with a hearty appetite."

Mia glanced from me to Pauley and gave a quick bob of her head. He grinned. "All right then. And you, AJ?"

"Sirloin, medium rare with pasta."

"Got it. I'll bring out your wine and bread in just a sec."

"Thank you."

Once Pauley was out of earshot, Mia narrowed her eyes at me. "It wouldn't have killed me to have a salad, you know."

I shook my head. "I don't want you to ever change who you are or what you like for me." At her skeptical expression, I added, "I like you just the way you are-physically and personality wise."


"Hell yeah. But you wanna know what I like the most about you?"

"The fact I'll let you bang me on a limo floor?"

I snickered. "That's a good one but no. What I like the most about you is how real you are-inside and out. The business I'm in-it's nothing but fake people twenty-four-seven, who will say and do anything to impress you or get you to do what they want."

Mia tilted her head, taking in my words . "I see now why you like this place so much. If my family is one thing, it's completely and totally real."


As we fell into silence, Mia stood up. "I think after our limo exertions, I better go freshen up."

I gave her a wicked grin. "I should do the same."

I followed her to the restrooms. I finished before she did and returned to the table. She was just coming back when Pauley returned with our drinks and a basket of garlic knots. With my stomach grumbling, I quickly snatched one up and scarfed it down. "So," I began after I finished chewing.


"Tell me about yourself."

Swirling the wine around in her glass, Mia shrugged. "Not much to tell."

I cocked my brows suspiciously at her. "Yeah, right. Don't make me start in with some lame-ass get to know you questions."

She grinned. "And what would those be?"

Even though I knew it would probably irk a woman like Mia-one who was refined and cared about class and style, I leaned in on the table with my elbows. "What do you like to do when you're not mending hearts?" I asked, my tone serious like a newscaster.

"Hmm," she murmured, closing her eyes to think. After a few seconds, she popped them open and replied, "I like piña coladas and walks in the rain."

It was my turn to tsk at her. "Not getting off that easy, Miss Martinelli."

"Fine then. What I enjoy doing is probably a huge bore to you, but you asked for it."

"Yep, hit me with it."

"I like the usual stuff like books, movies, and TV. I like traveling. And…" A little flush filled her cheeks.

"And what?"

After a hearty gulp of wine, she replied, "I like to knit."

I couldn't help laughing. "You're shitting me."

She narrowed her black eyes. "No, I'm not. My late grandmother taught me how to knit and crotchet."

At her still seething anger and embarrassment, I held up my hands. "I'm sorry I found it so shocking that a smoking hot woman like yourself did something so old-school and nerdy as knit."

She shrugged. "You asked, so I was honest."

"You're right, I did." Grabbing another garlic knot out of the basket, I grinned at her. "You think you would ever make me something?"

"Hmm, like a dick cozy for those cold nights when no woman wants to put up with your relentless cockiness?" she asked, with fake sweetness.

Choking, I fumbled for my wine before taking a long swig. When I recovered, I couldn't help laughing at her fiery response. "I would be honored if you would make me a dick cozy. I would wear it with pride and think fondly of you."

"Oh you would, would you?" she asked, her lips curving upward.

"Yes, I would." With a wink, I added, "But make it extra-large because I want it to fit."

Mia snickered. "I'll keep that in mind."

Pauley returned to the table with our dinner. "Here ya go. Watch the plates, cause they're hot. Lemme know if you need anything else."

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