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Ava grabbed a seat on the cushioned stool in front of the tool chest near Gabriel and took advantage of his distracted state to study him. He must be out here alone, she thought. It had taken her probably an hour to sweep the entire shop and no one had come around that entire time to see if he was thirsty or hungry or just to say hey. Unless he did have someone, like a girlfriend or wife, who worked in a nearby town somewhere. She canted her head to the side and tried to picture what the girl might be like, but came up with nothing. He just didn’t seem the type to be open with anyone enough to be in a relationship. Of any kind. Standoffish was probably his middle name. She chuckled aloud at that one. Gabriel Standoffish…
“What’s your last name?” she yelled over the music. He didn’t even flinch in acknowledgement. Ava rolled her eyes and hopped off the stool. She loved Metallica—their collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra on their S&M album was nothing short of genius—but listening to it at twenty decibels wasn’t conducive for conversation. And Ava was a conversationalist by nature.
Reaching the stereo on the back wall, she turned the dial sharply to the left, instantly taking the metal band down to the same volume level as elevator music before making her way back to her stool.
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to touch a man’s stereo?” he grumbled as he worked to tighten a hose.
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you it’s impolite not to answer a lady when she asks you a question?”
At that, Gabriel turned only his head to give her a slow once-over before returning to his current task. “When I find a lady, I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
He meant it to sound rude, but Ava heard the slight tilt of a grin framing his words, so it didn’t have the affect he was going for. “I asked you what your last name is.”
“No last name.”
“Who are you, Cher? Of course you have a last name.”
“I meant I’m not telling you my last name, and I don’t want to know yours.”
Ava hopped off her stool again to place herself next to him, sensing he hated his personal space invaded. “Why not?”
Gabriel sighed and pulled his socket wrench out of the depths of the car so he could stand and meet her gaze. Which was exactly what she’d hoped he would do. It’d been too long since she’d seen his strong features and those amazing-as-all-get-out eyes. Seriously, those had to be contacts. No mortal being had eyes that color.
“The less we know about each other the better,” he said as he shoved his wrench in his back pocket and strode over to the icebox in the back. The muscles in his back and shoulders rippled underneath the thin cotton. The thought of feeling them move like that beneath her hands almost made her drool. He grabbed two beers, disposed of their tops and carried them back in one hand by the necks. With the other hand, he found the cigarette behind his ear and stuck it between his lips.
Ick. She hated the smell and taste of smoke. But whatevs. It’s not like she was going to be kissing the guy. Damn, that’s a shame. Ava ogled his full lips and nearly sighed, but kept her lust in-check enough to accept the beer he handed her and take several long pulls from the bottle.
Then she watched as Gabriel made drinking beer look like a spectator sport. He held the bottle casually with the fingertips of his right hand. His left hand was hooked lazily onto his front jeans pocket by his thumb and couldn’t even be bothered to remove the cigarette from his lips. His first two fingers holding the beer lifted and pinched the butt between them before he rotated the bottle, pressed its mouth to his lips and let ounce after ounce of the amber liquid drain into his throat. The bobbing of his Adam’s apple underneath streaks of grease and dirt was a total eye orgasm.
Several seconds passed before she was able to blink. Or think.