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Chapter 5

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“I’m getting up anyway. Besides, if you don’t know what it is, you’ll have to let me keep buying them for you.” I enjoyed the look of annoyance that flashed across her face. I pushed back my chair without giving her a chance to argue.

“Don’t worry. She’s not always so uptight.” Jess’ voice surprised me as I ordered some more drinks. I hadn’t expected Jared and Jess to follow me. That left Allie alone with Owen—not the plan—definitely not the plan.

“I’m not worried about it,” I said offhandedly, wanting the bartender to move faster. This was taking far too long. Owen was laughing. What could she be saying? At least she didn’t look as amused.

“Levi’s good at, uh, breaking through tough exteriors.” Jared ordered them a couple of shots.

“She’s worth it,” Jess said as I walked away. I couldn’t read Jess. One moment she was egging her friend on and the next she was talking her up. I ignored the comment and kept walking. I’d been away from the table long enough.

“It looked like you two were having a good conversation. Did I miss anything?” I shot Owen an annoyed look. He was seriously beginning to piss me off.

Allie glanced up at me. “Nothing worth repeating.”

Owen smiled. “Well, Allie was telling me that she isn’t interested in you.”

Hmm, well at least they were talking about me.

I took my seat and leaned in close to her, letting her know what I thought of the statement. “It’s because she’s sworn off men. But I think I’ll just have to be the exception.”

She took a few sips of the new drink. “What in the world would make you think that you would be an exception?”

“One, you’re attracted to me, and two, I can be very persistent.”

She tightened her grip on the glass. “I am not attracted to you!”

“Like hell you’re not,” Jess said before bursting into laughter. She hadn’t even sat down yet.

“You know there could be a few females alive that aren’t into you, Levi,” Jared mocked. I was ready to knock that smirk off his face.

“It’s always a possibility, but that’s not the case this time. She likes me, she just won’t admit it.” I scooted my chair closer to her.

She sighed and closed her eyes. She seemed pretty stressed out, and I wanted to do something about that. I put an arm around her shoulder. It felt nice, natural.

I moved close enough that I could kiss her, but I resisted. It wasn’t time yet. She moved to turn away but I caught her chin, making her look up at me. “Stop looking away. I love green eyes.”

“Does that line usually work for you?”

“Usually. I’m guessing it’s not going to work tonight.”

Her lips quirked into just a hint of a smile. “Not a chance.”

“I’ll just have to get more creative.” As frustrating as her resistance was, it was also a nice change of pace. It would make finally getting her in bed all the more worth it.

“You do that.” Her look was teasing. She was definitely challenging me.

“So, what do you think of New Orleans so far?” Owen asked her, having to pull her attention away again.

Jess answered. “It’s been fantastic. It’s so awesome to get away and meet new people.”

“And what about you, Allie?” I asked, finding I actually cared about her answer.

“Well, considering we’ve been here less than twenty-four hours, it’s hard to have much of an impression, but I like it so far.”

I leaned in again. “You’ll have to keep me posted as you have more time to form an opinion.”

“I’ll be sure to keep you updated.”

I thought there might be a promise in her words, but that might have just been wishful thinking. The game of chase was fun, but I was ready to move things forward.

“You girls want to see the rest of the Quarter?” Jared was just looking for an excuse to get Jess to leave with him. The conference guy from earlier was watching her. She didn’t seem to notice. Jared definitely had her attention.

“Yes!” Jess squeaked. “We haven’t seen anything but here and the hotel.”

“You interested?” I whispered in Allie’s ear. I liked how it made her shiver a little. I definitely had an effect on her.

“Sure. Why not?” She finished off her drink and stood up. She tugged down on her skirt. I had to resist the urge to reach out and stop her. The skirt was fine the way it was.

I put an arm around her, leading her out. I shot Owen a backward glance to let him know to stay away. “I guarantee you’re going to love New Orleans.”

She slipped away from me. I held in a frustrated sigh.

“Is that right?” She sounded distracted, and I noticed her staring at her friend and Jared. Was she worried about her?

We walked down St. Peter Street and crossed over into Jackson Square. Allie seemed entranced by it. I noticed her eyeing the wrought iron railings. That was the second time I’d noticed her admiring architecture. Maybe we had that interest in common.

We maneuvered through the square, past the usual crowd of musicians and artists showing off their work.

“Care to have your fortune read?” a palm reader called out.

“No, thanks.” Allie waved her off.

I let my arm brush against hers. “Are you sure you don’t want a glimpse into your future?”

“I prefer surprises.” Her response seemed at odds with how uptight she’d been most of the night. I sensed there was a lot more to her I still wasn’t seeing.

“Same here,” Jess agreed. “This is too cool. It might be even better than Washington Square Park.”

Washington Square? So they were New Yorkers.

“Of course, this is just where all the tourists hang out. There are much cooler places, hon. Maybe I’ll show you sometime,” Jared crooned.

“Like where, your apartment?” Allie raised an eyebrow. She had a nice sense of humor.

“Why, you want to see my place?” he threw back at her.

“In your dreams.”

I laughed. She had some nerve. I couldn’t resist touching her. I came up from behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist. She fit perfectly. “Would you change your mind about that if you knew I was his roommate?”

“Why would that change my mind?” She pushed away. I reluctantly released her.

Maybe I needed to give her space so she’d come to me. Her game was wearing on me, but it was only going to end one way. With her in my bed.

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