Completely unskilled at basic flirting, Ethan decided keeping his mouth shut and his eyes averted would be the best course of action. Quit trying to say what Dane would say, just make an appearance and leave.
She ordered a Long Island iced tea before turning her attention back to Ethan and extended her hand. “I’m Carly Hughes.”
Ethan swallowed before grasping her hand. Partially hidden behind a mask, her eyes gleamed with the most brilliant shade of green. “Eee—Dane Forrester, nice to meet you.”
“Are you enjoying the party?” she asked.
He unclasped his hand from hers. A bolt of something sizzling hot passed between them. Reaching for a lifeline, he embraced his mug with interlacing fingers and hung on tight. “Yes.”
“I just moved to Anchorage, but I figured a literacy council charity event sponsored by the Alaska Fury would be a great way to meet people.” She readjusted her bottom in her barstool and crossed her legs, bumping his shin in the process. “Excuse me.”
Ethan gave a curt nod and chugged his beer. He had to admit being hidden behind the knight’s half-mask was a nice benefit. He didn’t have to feel self-conscious about this scarred face. He wasn’t one for social engagements anyway, but he willed himself to relax.
The bartender returned with her Long Island iced tea. “That’ll be twelve fifty.”
Carly reached for her purse, opened it up and rifled through its contents. “Oh, my goodness, did I…I think I forgot my wallet.”
Ethan stood up and dug out his wallet. He hadn’t forgotten all his manners. “Please, allow me.”
“All right.” She put her purse away.
“Sorry, I should have offered in the first place,” Ethan mumbled, opening up his wallet. “I don’t get out much.”
She cocked an eyebrow above the edge of her mask. “You, Dane Forrester, don’t get out much?”
“I mean, I haven’t been out lately—as in a few days. I mean I…” Ethan decided he’d be better off making a hasty retreat. “Forget I ever said that. I’m distracted.” He held his empty mug an extra three seconds before setting it down. Maybe more alcohol would numb his embarrassment. He called out to the bartender, “Could I get another Bud, please?”
Why on God’s snow-covered earth did he ever agree to this charade? He wasn’t good at being Ethan Forrester—let alone Dane Forrester. He wasn’t good at being anyone other than a part-time fireman and half-assed welder.
Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska. She lives there with her husband and two teenaged sons. When she isn’t reading, writing, or playing board games, she is cheering for her sons at their hockey games and tennis matches.
A reluctant reader as a child, she didn’t become interested in books until her teen years when she discovered historical romance. Now she loves all sub-genres of romance and can’t decide which one is her favorite.
Rebecca earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Alaska and was employed in the airline industry for several years before working in her current position as a program manager in a higher education.