A Beautiful Lie

By: Tara Sivec

Playing with Fire, #1



Prologue



At the sound of laughter and teasing voices, she glanced up from the book she was reading and brushed her auburn bangs out of her piercing green eyes. She watched the culprits of the interruption shove and push each other while they walked to the counter of the coffee shop with their backs to her. They continued behaving like twelve year olds while they placed their orders and moved off to the side to wait for their coffees. The playful insults they lobbed at each other made her smile wistfully and reminded her of siblings hiding their closeness and love for one another behind arm punches and silly name-calling. Not that she had any kind of idea what it was like to have a sibling. Or family, period. Watching their interaction surprised her by making her long for something she had no business wanting. There was nothing about her fellow male college students that ever held her interest. They were immature and annoying, and so far the ones she met only cared about who was buying the keg for the upcoming party or how quickly they could get to third base. She had too much at stake and too much invested in her future to waste time with people like that.

Feeling entirely too vulnerable where these strangers were concerned and the emotions they unwittingly forced into her heart, she pushed her long, wavy hair off of one shoulder and started to put her head back down to finish reading the night's Photojournalism assignment when one of the guys turned around. Her eyes locked with his and she felt her heart speed up. He was the type of man that made you sit up straight and pray to God your make-up still looked good after six hours of classes. He made you blush and want to look over your shoulder to see if he was really looking at you or a prettier girl behind you.

He wore faded jeans that hung low on his hips and a long-sleeved grey Abercrombie and Fitch shirt. Regardless of his obvious college student status, he was all man. He easily reached six feet, and while he wasn’t your typical, muscled jock, she could see the strength in his arms as he flexed to heft his backpack higher on one shoulder. The defined muscles of his chest stretched across the cotton fabric of his fitted shirt and made her hands itch with the need to smooth her palms against him or trace the word “Abercrombie” with the tips of her fingers just to feel the heat from his skin. He absently nodded his head at something his friend said, never taking his bright blue eyes off of her as he ran his long fingers through his short, midnight black hair.

She willed him to come over to her table and talk to her. She wanted to hear his voice and know if it would affect her even half as much as his stare did. Just the sound of his laughter, deep and unreserved, forced a tingle down her spine and shocked her again when she realized it sounded nothing like that of a college boy. There were so many things about him that made her instantly forget who she was, what she’d been through, and the choices she made as a consequence. Aside from the way his eyes seemed to pierce right through to her soul, and how he wouldn’t tear his gaze away from her even when outside forces tried get his attention, in just a few short minutes, she knew by his actions that he was a genuine person: the way he let a woman and her little girl go in front of him in line and then gave his friend a stern look when he complained, or the tip he stuck into the jar on the counter when no one was looking instead of waiting for all eyes to be on him to see his kindness like most would do. With just one look and a few charitable actions, she wanted to throw her beliefs out the window and lose herself in him. She wanted to forget about the fact that she didn’t need or want anyone in her life and ignore the voice in her head reminding her that sharing a piece of yourself with others only led to disappointment and a shattered heart.

She forced herself to break the eye contact before she did something completely out of character like get up and approach him or press her lips to the side of his neck so she could taste his skin. With a mental smack to her libido, she turned her attention to the friend standing next to him. He was just as good looking but a few inches shorter. His presence didn’t seem to command the room like Blue Eyes, but his smile lit up his entire face and oddly enough, put her at ease. A smile that held no secrets and would tell her no lies, like the ones she was used to lately. She glanced back and forth between them and smiled shyly, thinking about how she was never lucky enough to have one, let alone two good looking guys pay attention to her.

Her smile grew as they both made their way over to her table.



She’d always think back to that moment over the coming years and wonder what would have happened if things had been different, if only one of the boys had come into the coffee shop that day or if she had just listened to her brain instead of her heart and said no to that first date.