Hot to the Touch

Hot to the Touch by Isabel Sharpe Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Hot to the Touch by Isabel Sharpe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Isabel Sharpe
Tags: Checking E-Males
opening, surveying her restaurant, color high, eyes sparkling, looking about as proud and happy and beautiful as any woman had a right to be.
    The men of Milwaukeedates.com weren’t going to know what hit them. And assuming Chaz reacted to her picture the way any sighted, intelligent, straight male would, Darcy wasn’t going to, either.

    “YOU DID WHAT?”
    “Put up a profile for Darcy.” Marie’s smile slipped. Something was off tonight. From the moment she’d shown up at their usual Friday-night drink and dinner date here at the Roots Cellar bar in their shared neighborhood of Brewer’s Hill, she and Quinn hadn’t been able to settle into the usual easy camaraderie. She was used to him kidding about her matchmaking efforts, but while he usually reacted with amused exasperation, right now he seemed genuinely annoyed. “And I sent Chaz a Milwaukeedates ‘hello’ supposedly from her, to get the ball rolling.”
    “This after she’s said repeatedly that she doesn’t want to date.”
    “Jeez, Quinn.” She stared at him, getting annoyed herself, which was a first. She couldn’t remember the two of them having anything but teasing, polite disagreements. Now Quinn wasn’t teasing, and Marie didn’t feel polite. “Haven’t you listened to a thing I’ve told you about Darcy?”
    “Sounds like you’re not listening to a thing she’s told you.”
    “She does want to date. You should see her talk about men.”
    “You mean hear her talk?”
    “No, see her.” Marie put down her Prufrock, her favorite Roots specialty drink, and turned on the bar stool, holding herself rigid. “Her whole body goes into terrified-defense mode, like this. Stiff as a board. She’s so afraid to admit what she wants. So afraid someone will figure out she’s human and can be vulnerable. It’s heartbreaking.”
    “And up to you to fix?”
    Grrrr. Even Quinn’s strong resemblance to George Clooney wasn’t helping her like him any better at the moment. “No, not up to me. Only she can fix it. But if I can put a guy in her way who will inspire her to take the necessary steps so she can ultimately be happy, then I’ve done something really wonderful for her.”
    He signaled the dark-eyed bartender, Joe, for another gin martini; he’d gone through his first one much faster than usual. “She’ll be happy paired off because no one can be happy on his or her own? Is that what you believe?”
    “Yes. I do believe that or I couldn’t keep putting this much effort and time into what I do.”
    Quinn drained an invisible final drop from his empty drink and pushed the glass away, then fixed his movie-star gaze on her. “And where do you fit into that, Marie?”
    “What do you mean?” For some reason, maybe because his voice had gentled, Marie felt some of the fight leave her. “In my role as meddling matchmaker?”
    “No. In your role as a woman. A single woman who shows no signs of wanting a man in her own life. Why is that? You don’t want to be ‘happy’?”
    Irritation sparked again. “When it’s time for me to date, I will.”
    “And when will that time be?”
    When she could give up hope that Quinn might someday open his eyes and see her. “You want an exact hour?”
    “Yes. I do.”
    “Okay, fine.” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. They were squabbling like children. This wasn’t what she wanted. But maybe he was pushing her toward something she should be doing anyway. Setting a deadline. Deciding when to give up this pipe dream. “June 23 at 5:03 p.m.”
    He blinked. “How precise.”
    “The exact day and time I turn forty.”
    “I see.” He turned the second drink Joe had brought him in a circle, as if deciding the angle at which to attack, raised the glass halfway to his mouth, then set it down. “So you’re officially on the market as of then.”
    “Yes.” Marie nodded firmly. No, she hadn’t planned to draw that line, but having done so felt like the right and smart thing to do. By that

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