The Olive Garden was a hell of a place to get trashed.
Okay, to stay trashed.
Beckett had parked in front of one of the exits, and he now sauntered into the building. “I need a table. And I need alcohol.”
The host looked Beckett up and down. He handed him a beeper and asked for his name.
Beckett smiled. “Allota Fagina. Does this fucker vibrate?”
The host nodded and seemed to be trying to look busy. “Yes, Mr. Fangina. It will also light up.”
“Excellent.” Beckett stuffed the beeper down the front of his pants. “My balls love when it’s dinner time.” Beckett winked and found a seat.
Just as he started to nod off in his high-and-delirious state, he caught a whiff of sexy perfume. He opened one eye and saw a pair of legs he knew would make a really nice belt. He followed them up, grinning at the curves his palms wanted to feel.
She was pretty, and she was on a date. Judging from the body language, she didn’t know the man next to her in the lobby of the restaurant very well.
Beckett stood and had to waddle with the large beeper in his pants. “Hello, gorgeous. Do you work for UPS? Cause I could have sworn you were checking out my package.” He winked and placed a hand on her hip.
“Dude. She’s with me,” her date protested.
Beckett ignored him like he wasn’t there. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” He bit his lip and wrinkled his nose, leering at the woman’s body.
She shook her head. “What the hell is wrong with your square crotch?”
He knew from her voice that he had her. She was interested and appalled at the same time.
He motioned with his hands as if explaining why he’d chosen a fine wine. “Well, Angel Ass, I didn’t know you’d be here, so I needed something to occupy my dick.”
Her date ran a hand over his mouth. “That’s just not cool. Back off, man.”
Beckett finally turned his attention to the man, and his icy cold voice changed the whole atmosphere of the room. “Go home.”
The date looked from the woman’s face to Beckett’s. “You’re going to switch dates? Really? Just because he said so?”
Beckett turned off his menace and faced her again, waiting.
“I think I am.”
She was rewarded with Beckett’s dimples.
“Well, I never.” Her date huffed away from the scene of the humiliation.
“What’s your name, Princess?” His hand touched hers.
“Shannon. The only reason I said yes to your weird ass is because I think Chad might be gay. Otherwise, you and your beeper would be eating alone tonight.”
She let him take her hand and lead her to a padded waiting bench.
“The only reason you let me hustle you is because you know that laying under me will make you scream ‘Beckett’ hard and long.”
Shannon rolled her eyes. Beckett’s pants lit up at the crotch.
He held up one finger and smiled with his eyes closed. “I swear, Olive Garden must use car batteries in these things.”
Shannon stood and headed for the wide-eyed host.
Beckett pulled the beeper out and plopped it in the man’s hand. “My table for one just turned into a table for two. I’m that awesome. Bring us a bottle of every wine you have in this building, then bring us the menu.”
Beckett took Shannon’s hand and dragged her in exactly the opposite direction the host indicated. He chose an open booth and sat next to her, instead of across from her like a normal man would.
They were almost nose to nose when he looked at her. “Ms. Shannon, your eyes are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in an Olive Garden. I fucking swear.”
His modern-Romeo lines were interrupted by the delivery of six bottles of wine and two glasses.
“Hi, my name is Dan. I’ll be your waiter this evening.”
Beckett waved him away. “Come back when at least two of these bottles are empty.”
He filled Shannon’s glass, then his own. “As I was saying, you’re the most beau—”
Shannon put her hand over his glass, stopping its path to his mouth and his words. “What are we drinking to, Mr. Vibrating Balls?”
Beckett looked at the other side of the restaurant, jaw twitching. “Want me to track down Gay Chad for you?”
“No, I want you…” She turned his face toward hers. “To answer my question.”
She removed her hand, and he took a long swallow of wine.
“I’m drinking because it feels right. Good enough?” It might have been a good enough answer, but Beckett knew pain filled his eyes as he spoke.
“No. I think you hijacked my date because you don’t want to be alone.” She took a sip of her own wine.
“Damn it, girls with legs like yours aren’t supposed to be thinkers.” Beckett tried to get her to smile.
“Am I right?” Shannon put down her glass and laid her hands on the table.
“Don’t you believe in a little slap and tickle, Shannon? Because I can slap like a fucker and tickle places on your body that’ll make sure you never, ever remember Chad’s name.” He leaned in audaciously for a kiss, then sat back and trailed a finger over her arm.
“Wow. That was... You are...” Shannon reached for her wine.
“Talented? Well-endowed? Relentless? Long lasting? I’m all those things. And tonight, you’re all I want.” He willed her to believe him.
She turned her body away. “I kind of wish that was the truth, which is crazy because we just met. And really? You put industrial beepers in your pants. But you’re lying to me and yourself.”
She turned and put a hand on his shoulder. “Do you want to talk? I won’t judge you. I’ll just listen.”
He grabbed a bottle from the table and skipped his glass altogether. “So you’d rather have me whine to you about my sorry ass like a pussy?”
Shannon grabbed her own bottle and toasted his. “Yes. Pussy through it.”
Turns out she was a good listener. Beckett left out the incriminating parts, but she seemed so astute. Even with half a bottle of wine in her, he had a feeling she picked up on some parts she shouldn’t have. After they’d picked their way through the Thanksgiving-sized meal Beckett ordered, she summed up his long-winded explanation neatly.
“You love a girl, and you’re afraid you’re not enough for her. So you’re leaving her to fend for herself in the world while you drink yourself stupid. Because that’s better for you both…somehow.”
He growled in her direction. “It sounded a whole lot prettier when I said it.”
Shannon held one of his large hands. “Beckett, sometimes we don’t pick the right people to love, and sometimes love picks the right people for us. I don’t know if there’s a more perfect man out there for your lady, but I can’t imagine you laying down and giving up. Because you’re that awesome.”
Beckett nodded. “I wonder if you’re right, sexy fucking lady that I kidnapped. Does this mean I don’t get to see you naked? Because I think that would be a shame.”
Shannon shook her head.
Beckett waved the scared host over to demand that he call a cab. Shannon held Beckett’s hand as he dropped an alarming number of bills on the table to cover their bill, plus a huge tip.
When cab pulled up at her house, and he insisted on walking her to the door.
“Shannon with the beautiful mouth and the fucking too-smart head, I know I can’t pound your pussy into tomorrow, but can I at least have a kiss goodbye?”
In an instant Beckett had pulled her to him, cradling the back of her head as he skimmed her lips with his, tempting her with his tongue. She moaned and leaned into his chest. He expressed his thanks with his mouth, and she rested her cheek on his bicep. Finally, he stopped kissing her to simply hug her.
“Shannon, you’re a light in the dark. Never settle—you’re fucking fantastic.” He turned to leave.
He turned and smiled as he opened the cab door.
“It’s always light somewhere,” she called. “You’re fucking fantastic too.”
Beckett nodded solemnly as he closed the door.