Once situated, Simon sat back in his chair, grabbed one of his ribs and took a large hungry chunk out of it. “Mm,” he hummed in an exaggerated sound of enjoyment.The noise immediately made my core pulse, and I stared fascinated as he chewed his first bite. “Oh, God,” he groaned in ecstasy and I squeezed my thighs tightly, together. “Go on, dig in,” he encouraged as he nodded toward the delicious, but messy looking food.My focus was squarely on his cherry-red lips, visibly wet from his tongue, among his full beard and I just about managed to drag my eyes away from them to meet his gaze.
Drawing a deep breath, I swallowed roughly and resigned myself to knowing I’d look like a pig eating in front of him, but the smell from the barbecue sauce was ridiculously inviting.
My dilemma was very real as I shifted my gaze to my plate. My stomach betrayed me when it grumbled in protest as the delicious aroma assaulted my brain. Simon was spot on, they were my favorite food. Of all the times to remember what I liked, why did it have to be now?
The way he was devouring his meal made my mouth water. But I knew there was no way I’d walk away from the table without getting in a filthy state once I began to eat.
With an extraordinary amount of delicacy, I choose the smallest rib—if there is such an act as picking up a pork rib covered in gooey sauce delicately—and hesitated when it was level with my mouth.
Stretching my lips clear of the sauce, I dug my teeth into the pork and took several small nibbles of the succulent meat. “Mm.” An involuntary moan of appreciation crept up from my chest because they tasted delicious and I hummed in appreciation just as he had moments before.
Simon grinned and shook his head. “Fuck,” he muttered, chuckling to himself as his eyes darkened, and I frowned because I felt I’d obviously done something wrong.
I shrugged and said the first thing that came into my head. “Like my mom always said, ‘You can’t say meat without saying Mm’.”
Reaching over toward me, he lifted his hand and swiped his coarse thumb pad across my lips then stuck it in his mouth. When he pulled it out, he licked his lips seductively and another wide grin sent a rod of delight straight between my thighs.
“What did you do that for?” The question was out before I had the chance to think about what I was saying. His unexpected intimate gesture had stolen my breath for a moment and my heart pounded wildly in my chest.
“What?” he asked, looking confused, but I thought I detected a playful tone. He certainly looked amused.
“The thing you just did with your thumb,” I stated because when I’d seen Gibson do that to Chloe it had always looked intimate… like I shouldn’t have been there. I may not have had a lot of personal experience of men, but I’d seen enough romance movies to be sure he’d crossed a line.
He shrugged. “There’s only one thing better than the taste of barbecue sauce from a woman’s lips,” he said, ignoring the liberty he’d taken as he flashed me a cocky smile.
Picking up another rib he dug in like nothing had happened and using his teeth, ripped another large chunk of meat from it.
“But they were my lips,” I replied, sounding utterly confused at where he was going with the conversation. For a few seconds I felt vulnerable, inept, unprepared for the move he had made, and unsure why he would have chosen to do that to me.
Was this how Simon really was? Is this why Gibson argued with him when he paid attention toward me? Up until that point I had never experienced anyone invading my personal space uninvited, outside of Colin’s anger, the way Simon did.
“Exactly,” he said, his eyes dropping to my mouth and suddenly I wasn’t hungry any more. For a second I thought I was mistaken, then wondered if he was joking, then ultimately, I felt out of my depth.
I immediately felt uncomfortable and acted on instinct, challenging his comment.
“It’s not okay for you to screw with my feelings, Simon. I’m here because I thought I could trust you, yet I’m barely inside your house and you think that gives you the right to take liberties with me?”
Simon’s eyes went wide, like I’d shocked him by calling him out. He stopped eating, rib poised mid-air and stared at me, hard.
Holding his gaze, I was determined not to turn away from him because it had taken all of my courage to stand up to him.
Suddenly he threw his rib back onto the plate, the hollow bone clattering noisily and shattering the otherwise silent night air.
Sighing heavily, he looked apologetic and when he spoke it was in his low serious tone.
“Fuck. You’re right. I’m sorry. That shouldn’t have happened. I totally forgot myself with you… and of course you can trust me. I’d never hurt you, Piper.”
“Is this how you treat all women?”
“Only the ones I’m attracted to,” he replied, and I searched his face for a hint he was teasing me. When I saw none, I wasn’t sure what to do with his new disclosure.
Deciding he was joking, I called him out again. “Don’t fuck with my head. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. I may be young but that doesn’t give you the right to poke fun at me.” Pushing my chair away with the back of my knees I stood up and stared down at him as anger rose inside me.
“After the week I’ve had I’m not in the mood for games, Simon. I lived with the King of Mind Fucks and I don’t appreciate you toying with me like this.
You’re making me feel uncomfortable and frankly I expected more from you. Maybe I should go home?”
“Who says I’m playing games?” he asked throwing his arms wide. “Look, that thing I just did with my thumb? What can I say? It was completely spontaneous. I forgot who you were for a second.”
I huffed out a breath. “Yeah? So, mistaking me for one of your groupies is supposed to make me feel less offended?” I snapped. Anger replaced the awkwardness of the situation.
Simon leaned over and plucked several small white napkins from a silver dispenser on the table. Silently he wiped each of his fingers one by one.
My eyes followed his hands until he’d finished, then looked back up into his. He shrugged then smoothed his closely groomed beard as he considered my question.
“That’s not what I meant.” He sighed flatly, all hint of humor gone from his voice. Glancing up at me he sighed, and I inhaled a deep breath as I tried to remain calm.