Mr. Green Eyes cleared his throat.
"Oh. Uh, Tara, this is Tucker. We go way back. Childhood friends. Tuck's a professor at Boston University and is in town doing some guest lecturing this weekend."
Someone from the wait staff called Joey, and since he wouldn't have anything go wrong with Sarah's party, he took off.
Tara nodded her head at the professor. "It's nice to meet you."
A polite smile curved his lips, and when he squeezed her hand, a jolt raced up her arm. She shook her head at the tingling sensations and turned to the coach. "See you later, Marshall."
A crust-less cucumber sandwich in hand, she pushed open the French doors leading to the veranda. Detouring to the right, she pulled a bottle of water from the refrigerator, then stepped down a few stairs and sat. Inhaling the night air, she settled in to watch the moonlight dance on the lake.
What a night. At least she'd managed to avoid the groping coach this time. What the hell was wrong with her anyway? She was happy for her sister--she really was. Bending her head from side to side, she stretched her neck.
Realization hit her in the pit of the stomach. Her life was unfulfilling. She owned a nice house, her dream car and a productive business. What more did she need?
She was bored. Hell, if she were honest with herself--she was lonely. And tonight, that bothered her more than she wanted to contemplate. Jake had left eleven months ago, apparently taking part of her with him. She hadn't mooned over him because she hadn't been in love with him. He'd been a good friend for a long time, a lover only briefly.
Sipping the water, she let the cool liquid slide down her throat. The air was humid, hot for May. She pulled at the fabric of her dress where it clung to her skin, pressing the water bottle to the side of her neck.
She was hot and bothered...and wanted a man.
At least for a night.
A romp in the sack would brighten her birthday. Thoughts of Marshall skidded across her mind. No, she couldn't go there. He was nice enough, but his groping hands turned her off. Besides, Sarah and Joey had been trying to push them together for months. He'd get the wrong idea.
Lost in her thoughts, she jumped when Tucker settled on the step above her.
She openly looked him over, noting his dusty blond hair curled above his ears. He needed a haircut.
"I hope you don't mind if I join you."
"No. Not at all. I needed some fresh air. I guess you're used to this sort of thing?" she half-asked, half-assumed. She hated these 'who can spend the most money' parties.
Something sounding like a snort escaped him. "Joey's a good friend. I couldn't refuse him."
"Don't get me wrong. Back in Boston I get invited to these social-slash-work parties. I go, but mostly because after years there I still don't know many people."
Anti-social, absent-minded professor. He wasn't moving up her list very quickly.
"Joey seems happy here, and his wife is wonderful. She's welcomed me while I'm in town."
"Sarah's super. And would do anything to make Joey happy. So you're staying here with them?"
"No. I just meant she's a great hostess."
"Yeah, she is." Tara kicked off her shoes and turned to get a better look at him. "Are you staying nearby?"
What the hell was she doing?
Tilting her head, she got a better look at his eyes, an emerald color so intense it somehow drew her in. Her body quivered.
"I'm at the new hotel on campus."
"Ah. When are you leaving town?"
"Tomorrow evening. I've got a lecture at eleven AM. Then I'm duty bound to a late lunch with the director of the history department. I'm leaving for the airport from there."
Humm. He wouldn't be around long. Devilish thoughts filled her head. Maybe he'd be good for a night of fun. Something had to give--she needed a distraction.
The sexy, absent-minded man shot to the top of her list.