In an attempt to change the subject, Steele nodded to the messenger bag sitting on the bar next to her. “A working dinner, I take it?”
“Pretty much. I just got back from a two-day conference and was trying to play catch up.” Before he could ask what she did for a living, she told him. “I’m the school counselor at Jasper High School. Right now, they have me doubling up as the college advisor, which is why I was at the conference.” Steele gave her a disbelieving look, then broke into laughter. “Hey, don’t laugh. I’m a kick-ass counselor, just ask my students.”
“I have no doubt you’re good at your job, sweetheart, I just wish you’d been my high school counselor. I got an old fucker with a bad attitude.”
She laughed again. “Mine was a woman who hated kids.”
“Bet those boys line up outside your office, just waiting for some ‘good advice’,” he teased.
“Stop,” she said, her face flushing a pretty shade of red. “Are you trying to embarrass me?”
“By the color of your face, I’d say it’s working.” This got him an eye roll.
Steele’s phone buzzed in his pocket. It was the second time in a fifteen-minute period. Duty called. “Excuse me for a minute. My phone is blowing up in my pocket, and I need to make sure it’s not an emergency.”
She waved him off. “Good, it’ll give me a minute to recover from such witty repartee.”
He smiled at her smart-ass response. “Someone’s pulling out the big words.”
Laughing at her scowl, he moved back from the bar. He had two missed calls. When he saw who they were from, he groaned. Karma had fucked him in the ass when it gave him Jake Espinoza as a VP. The guy was worthless. Taking a deep breath, he scrolled to Jake’s number and was about to hit call, when his gaze drifted over to Luciana. Her head was tilted back, and her eyes were closed, her delicately feminine fingers gripping the stem of the wine glass as it kissed her perfect lips. He followed the smooth line of her throat as she swallowed the sip of wine. Great, he was going to talk to Jake while sporting a massive boner. Tearing his eyes away, he quickly adjusted himself and pressed the button.
Jake picked up on the third ring, and in that asshole tone that Steele fucking hated, asked, “Where you at?”
“This had better be an emergency.”
“What?” Jake sputtered.
Speaking slowly, as if talking to a complete idiot, Steele said, “You’ve been blowing up my phone for the last half hour, what’s the emergency?”
“Uh, no emergency. We were just wondering if you could pick up a case of beer on the way back to The Cave.” The Cave was what they called the clubhouse. It was named this on account of all of the bat caves surrounding the property.
Normally, Steele could shake off Jake’s stupid shit, but tonight he was running dangerously low on patience. He loved his club and his brothers, but damn if he didn’t miss his privacy. The day he became president, he kissed it goodbye.
“I can, but I’m not. You want to know why? Because unlike you, Jake, I have shit to do. Don’t call back unless there’s an emergency.” He clicked the button on the side of his phone and ended the call. Shoving it in his pocket, he returned to the golden-eyed beauty at the bar—eyes, that at that moment, were intently focused on his cut. The muscle in his jaw ticked. Here it comes, he thought.
“I’ve always wondered what being a member of a motorcycle club is like. I mean, I know there have been television shows made about it and all, but what is it really like?”
Talk about a loaded question. Arlan Steele wasn’t just a member of a motorcycle club. He was the president and leader, the person to whom all other members looked up to and relied on. Luciana, however, wasn’t aware of this. To her, he was Arlan, some leather-clad biker.
In an attempt to keep it simple, he said, “It’s like having thirty sisters who would take your back at a second’s notice.”
A smile lit up her face, one that took it from alluring to downright gorgeous. “I always wanted a sister.”
Steele frowned. “I have a brother. Trust me; it’s not all that great.” Her laugh caught him by surprise, probably because he wasn’t trying to be funny. His brother, Carver, was a local police detective. He was also a giant pain in Steele’s ass.
She took another sip of wine and his cock twitched in response. “So, do you have a clubhouse?”
He stared at her red nails as they rubbed against the side of her glass. Wishing they were rubbing something else, he answered, “We do.”
“Do you all live there?”
“Do you live there?”
Steele owned a house on the outskirts of Austin, but now that he was president, he rarely saw it. He’d thought about selling the place but couldn’t bring himself to get rid of it. He also didn’t want to answer any more questions.
“Look, I should get going.”
Surprise flared in her pretty eyes, followed by something that looked a lot like disappointment. “Oh, okay, well, it was nice meeting you, Arlan.”
“You, too, darlin’.” He stood to leave.
“Would you like to join me here for dinner Thursday night?”
Thinking that would probably be a bad idea, he said, “Sorry, I’ve got plans.”
“Oh, okay. Well, goodbye then.”
He gave her one last smile and headed for the door.
Regret dogged him the entire way to his bike. He wanted her. Any man with two eyes in his fucking head would want her. But then what? He was president of a motorcycle club, and she was a high school counselor—so far from his world, it wasn’t even funny.
“Fuck,” he growled. As always, he was caught between what he wanted to do and what he should do. Why did his choices always have to hinge on the club? It was dinner, not marriage, for Christ’s sake. Pivoting around, he headed back inside.
Luciana was busy talking to Donny and didn’t notice him until he hit the bar area. Donny gave him a knowing smile.
Steele reached her seat and dipped his head to her ear. “Does Thursday at seven-thirty work for you?”
She pulled back and stared at him, her eyes sparkling with surprise. “I’d like that.”
He had no fucking clue what he was doing. All he knew was that he wanted her. Before taking off, they exchanged numbers. He told her to call if anything changed. It’s just dinner, he told himself, but in his gut, he knew that was a lie.