Pretty Boy (Perfect Boys #1) by K.M. Neuhold

“So, let me get to know you,” he suggests, as if it’s that simple. “Tell me everything there is to know about you. I have all the time in the world.”

I scoff. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m working right now. I don’t exactly have time to yammer at some stranger all night long.”

Barrett gives a pointed look around the empty bar. Of course, Roy chooses that exact moment to finish his drink, standing up and seeing himself out, which leaves Barrett and me all alone.

“Fine, I don’t know what you even wanna know.”

“Let’s start with your last name,” he says.

“Davis. But if I’m going to play twenty questions with you, this goes both ways,” I insist.

“That’s fair. My last name is Russell.”

I furrow my eyebrows, that name, Barrett Russell, tickling my memory. I’m sure I’ve never met him before. He’s the kind of man I wouldn’t forget if I had.

“Where are you from?” I ask.

“Connecticut originally. I’ve been living in Las Vegas for the past ten years.” He takes a sip of his beer, and I watch the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallows, wishing I could feel the motion under my lips. Or better yet, his naked body against mine, hovering over me, weighing down on me, his grunts and moans vibrating against my lips as he fills me and fucks me. My stomach heats, and I duck my gaze, afraid he’ll somehow be able to read my filthy thoughts all over my face.

I lick my lips again and force the thoughts from my mind. “I bet Las Vegas is exciting,” I muse.

“It’s okay. Tell me about your family.”

“Just me and my mama. My gran was around when I was a kid, but she’s passed now.” I square my shoulders and prepare for his judgment out of habit, so used to everyone around here knowing that my daddy ran off as soon as I was born.

He doesn’t seem fazed by it, moving immediately to the next question, his eyes fixed on me the entire time in a way that’s as arousing as it is unsettling. I’m not used to having so much of anyone’s attention. It’s kind of…nice.

“Did you always want to be a bartender?” he asks, and I give a one shoulder shrug, absently wiping down the already clean bar.

“It’s a job, and it ain’t rocket science or nothin’.”

He studies me for a long time until I feel like I might spontaneously combust from his eyes on me. It’s weird cause I’m used to folks staring, but I ain’t never had nobody look at me the way he is. I can’t figure what to do with it.

“If you could have any job, what would it be? What’s your dream job?” he finally asks.

I scoff. “Dreams are a real good way of getting your heart broken,” I tell him honestly. I gave up dreaming a long time ago. It’s safer that way.

A sad look passes behind his eyes before he launches into another question.

He must ask me a thousand questions about my favorite foods, best childhood memories, many questions I lose track of the time.

“Oh, shoot, it’s past closin’ time,” I say, realizing the late hour. My voice is almost hoarse from how much we talked tonight. I told him all about the creek where I used to catch bullfrogs when I was a kid, and he told me a bit about his childhood, which sounds like it occurred on a whole different planet than mine. It sounded nice though.

Since it was a slow night, there isn’t much to do to close up other than lock the register and put the stools up. Barrett helps me, even though I try to wave him off, and I have to admit it’s not a bad sight to watch his muscles strain as he picks each stool up over his head before setting them on the bar. Show off.

He catches me watching and winks at me, making my belly flutter all over again and my skin heat and prickle.

“I’m going to give you a ride home,” he says firmly, like he did earlier, leaving no room for argument. If I agree, will he call me a good boy again?

“Yeah, okay.”

Barrett gives me a slow, almost lazy kind of smile, his eyelids drooping as he takes a step closer to me. I should feel nervous, being all alone with a strange man in the middle of the night like this, but of all the things jumbled up inside me, nerves ain’t one of them. He cups my jaw in his large hand, and I lean into his touch, nearly whimpering at the feeling.

I can’t remember the last time anyone touched me. Probably not since my gran died. My eyes fall closed without my permission, and he drags his thumb along my cheek. It feels like he’s tracing the edges of my birthmark. My natural reaction is to recoil, to try to hide my face from him because I’m sure he’s been looking at it far too long. But it feels too nice to break the moment. I deserve just a few more seconds, don’t I? Something to cherish when he leaves Billow in a few days and never thinks of me again.