“Oooo! There he is! There he is! Oh, my God, isn’t he the hottest?”
Oh, my God, they’re at it again.
Sarah got up and kicked her office door. It closed with a loud rattle from the window inset in its upper half. The frosted glass would at least keep the curious and nosey from seeing what she was doing, but it was piss-poor insulation against the noise.
More squealing and the sound of a dozen or more hoof beats from the herd stampeding to the far window wall in the empty office next door wasn’t just distracting. It was as irritating as hell. With a loud groan, Sarah gave up trying to concentrate on her computer screen until the oohing and ahhing was over.
Well, if she couldn’t fight them, she might as well check out the guy whom over half of the department was lusting after. The windows on the east side of her office overlooked the construction on the new wing of the medical building. From there she could watch the workers, especially between nine-thirty and ten when the crew began taking their requisite fifteen-minute breaks. She gave her computer screen a searching look. What were the chances she could tune out the Hunk Herd just this once?
“Oh, Gawd! He’s going to take his shirt off already? I think I’m going to faint!”
“Hey, pretty baby! How’s your taste for chocolate, sugar! I could definitely use some of your cream filling on my Oreos!”
Sarah winced. Sometimes the women got a bit too raunchy. But, damn it, men did the same thing when ogling women. Fair was fair. “But if I had my druthers, I wish they would do it somewhere else,” she groused. Her deadline was approaching fast, and she had at least eight more chapters to finish on her presentation, not to mention arranging the layout for the photos, scanning in her data, getting the typeface set—
“Somebody catch me when I fall. I get all squidgy just looking at him!”
“Do you think the man realizes how utterly delicious he looks?”
“Sweet cheeks, my guess is he’s had his biscuits buttered as recently as last night.”
Biscuits buttered? Oh, give me a freaking break!
Throwing her ballpoint at the wall in frustration, Sarah got up from her desk and walked over to the window. The new six-story medical wing would eventually dwarf the three-storied sciences department building next to it. But right now the steel frame was no more than a skeleton, a giant rough outline in painted metal beams.
The object of feminine lust was on the second floor, just below where his fan club was congregated. All he had to do was look up to see them, and Sarah wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a couple of the girls lifted their skirts just for his benefit. Sans panties, of course.
“And one of those panty-less hussies would probably be Philla,” Sarah muttered as her gaze latched onto the Greek god getting a drink from the cooler.
Okay. At least she had to give the women credit. They knew prime beef when they saw it. The man couldn’t be sculpted more perfectly if he’d been special ordered. And he was golden. Even plastered down with sweat, the man’s hair was thick enough to make a woman’s fingers ache to run through it. Not to mention the thin trail of tiny golden hairs dusting his pecs, swirling around his nipples the color of newly minted pennies, and finally disappearing down inside the waistband of his jeans. Exactly above the zipper, Sarah noted. I wonder if he ever got any of those little hairs caught in the teeth of that zipper? The naughty thought blushed her to the roots of her hair.
“Get a grip on yourself! Jeez, you’re getting as bad as the heifers!”
But she didn’t move from her little perch. The man, whatever his name was, was too beautiful not to watch. Every muscle moved with precision, silkily and smoothly. His back and arms were unblemished by even a mole.
Even his lower body left little to the imagination. Although no one she knew had seen that portion without his pants, his fitted jeans looked like they had been tailored to his specifications. Sarah blinked. Yep. Mr. Greek god dressed to his left. Noting the size, she wondered if his flag was at rest or at half mast. Because if that was at rest....
A sharp knock on the door startled her. She started to rise from where she had been half-leaning, half-sitting on the narrow sill when Philla Caldwell stuck her head inside the office and gave Sarah one of her “I knew it!” grins.
“Want in on the pool?”
“Brooke’s going over to check with some of the guys to see what Mr. G’s marital status is. I’ve got five bucks riding that he’s a homo.”
Sarah felt the little lurch in her heart that left her puzzled. The palpitations had started occurring these past few weeks. Around the same time the construction started on the new wing. The incidences were nothing major, but they were enough to get her attention. At first she hadn’t been alarmed about them, believing they were due to the stress of getting her presentation ready for the board of regents. But now they were happening more often, without any warning or pattern. And it was starting to worry her.
Frowning, she echoed, “Mr. G?”
“Mr. Gorgeous. Hey, you have to admit any man that looks that sumptuous can’t be straight, right?”
Sarah waved Philla off. “No, thank you. Just keep me out of it. I’d rather keep my fantasies to myself, all right?”
Philla shrugged her expensively covered shoulders. “Suit yourself, Professor. But I still say you need to let your hair down sometimes and admit you’re a woman. With womanly needs and an eye for good real estate.” She tossed a nod in the direction of the window. “Like Mr. G.”
“No, thank you,” Sarah told her again. Unfortunately Philla’s persistence was dragging a smile out of her, damn the woman.
Philla caught the grin and flashed one back. “We’re meeting downstairs at the Bedrock for happy hour. Word is a bunch of the construction workers gather there, too. Wanna come? I’ll even pay for the first round.”
“No, thank you,” Sarah repeated a third time. But it was too late. She giggled despite her attempt to look adult and determined.
“Mr. G might be there,” Philla taunted.
“Then I’m going to have to be disappointed, aren’t I? Look, Philla, I have a ton of work to do and very little time to get it done. Let me have my fantasies, and you have yours. And if you and Mr. G meet and hit it off, be sure to send me an invitation to the wedding, okay?”
She gave a determined nod. “I’m sure. Now, shoo. Go away.” She made a backhanded motion toward Philla to make her leave. There. Her heart did the little lurch thing again. Sarah clamped her jaws together and prayed it wasn’t anything serious. She promised herself that as soon as Philla left, she would call and schedule an appointment for a physical.
“Okay. But it’s your loss.” Philla tossed her a wink and finally shut the door.
Mouthing an expletive, Sarah went back to staring at the dark-blond hunk standing no more than a dozen yards away. If the glass weren’t there, and if she leaned out a little further and tumbled out of the window, they would meet on her way down.
Mr. G’s break was over. He had had his water and a chance to wipe the sweat from his face with his shirt. Now he was pulling it back on. She could see the ripple in his abs when he tucked in the tail.
Out in the hallway she could hear the Hunk Herd giving little boos and catcalls. Several times they tried tapping on the glass to get the man’s attention. Sarah was positive he heard it but chose to ignore it rather than glance up and give the ladies a smile or a little wave back like the other workers did.
She breathed in deeply, letting out a muscle-relaxing sigh. A quick glance at her watch told her it was nearly ten. If she could have two hours of uninterrupted time, she was sure she could get this current chapter she’d been struggling with completed. That in itself would be a blessing. Then the next seven outlined pieces would be child’s play.
She gave a final glance out the window. She only wanted to watch him leave. That was the best part, in her opinion. She had a weakness for men’s rears, and Mr. G’s was as spectacular as the rest of him. Maybe more so.
But instead of seeing his departing figure, she found herself staring straight down into the man’s upturned face. The sun was slanting over him at just the right angle, giving him an almost ethereal glow. She could see right into his strangely turquoise eyes.
Her heart somersaulted and landed flat on its belly. Oh, Jeez.... He wasn’t looking up at the window. He was watching her.
No. Not watching. Studying. Like he was trying to get a firm idea of what she looked like but couldn’t get a clear enough view.
For nearly a full minute, her gaze remained locked on his face. On the perfect, chiseled features. The full lower lip with the slightly thinner upper lip. The high cheekbones and almost almond-shaped eyes. The man was pure male. Not a thing about him screamed femininity, or even hinted of the slightest tilt toward effeminacy.
If that man’s gay, I’m a lesbo.
Then, as if he had read her mind, he opened his lips to reveal two dental-model rows of pearly whites. The smile left her numb. To add insult to injury, he gave her a little salute off the rim of his construction hat, turned, and strode away. Sarah watched that molded backside sway with absolute precision.
She melted against the window frame. The guy had acknowledged her. He had smiled at her, and it had been like the sun coming out of hiding.
But why her? Why, of all the svelte, drop-dead stunning women working on this campus—not to mention the bosomy coeds who dressed as if partial nudity were their minor—why would he single out her?
Pulling off her glasses, Sarah rubbed her eyes, taking extra care not to smudge her makeup. She had to be imagining it. She was tired. Yeah, that was it. Just jot it down to wishful thinking. She was worn out from all the ass-kissing and hobnobbing she was forced to put up with just so the board would listen to her theories and treatise, and thus grant her tenure at the college.
Of course everyone thought she was a fruitcake from the get-go. A dull, drab, fruitcake of a woman with a few too many pounds on her from spending too much time sitting on her butt in front of a computer screen, typing. Or from being hunched over a table loaded with books, taking truckloads of notes.
There was no way the most spectacular-looking man on the face of the earth would seek out her face in the window, then smile at her as if she were an old acquaintance. The man must have mistaken her for someone else. Either that, or he needed glasses for those bedroom eyes of his.
“Hey, girl! What was that all about?” Philla burst into her office without knocking and rushed over to her desk. “Have you been holding out on me?”
Okay. That did it. Now she had a certified headache, on top of everything else. “What are you babbling about, Philla?”
“Mr. G. We saw him smile and wave at you!” Philla gave her a look that spoke volumes.
Sarah groaned softly. “He must’ve thought I was someone else. I’ve never met the man, much less spoken to him.”
“Uh-huh.” The word meant one thing. Its intention meant just the opposite.
“If you don’t believe me, go downstairs and confront the man, for Pete’s sake!” Sarah gave her look that let Philla know she was treading on her very last nerve. Sarah was pissed, and now she was getting angrier. Although they were co-workers in the same department at the college, Sarah’s professorship ranked quite a bit higher than Philla’s internship.
Philla raised both hands in surrender and began backing out the door. “All right! I believe you. I believe you. It’s just that the girls wanted to know if you had any juicy tidbits to share after we’d seen you two converse with each other.”
“We didn’t converse!” Sarah countered a bit too forcefully. “I’ve only seen him a few times out the window, just like you have. Maybe he recognized me or something. Or, like I said, maybe he mistook me for someone else. Hell, I don’t know! But if you’re trying to pry anything out of me, you’re S. O. L. So go back to your little cubicle and let me have some peace so I can finish this presentation.” She shot the woman another dark look. “Please?”
Philla paused in the doorway. Beyond her Sarah could make out one or two of the others still hanging around, trying to catch a word or two of their conversation.
“You sure you don’t want to come down after work for a drink and some heavy breathing over the work crew?”
“Positive. Thanks for the invitation, though.”
Nodding again, Philla departed, this time for good. Leaving the window, Sarah dropped into her seat in front of her desk. The computer monitor had gone into screensaver mode during her break. Fifteen minutes. The screensaver was set to come on after fifteen minutes of non-activity. That meant she had wasted fifteen valuable minutes she should have been using to work on her latest chapter.
Her eyes involuntarily drifted over to the window. From her desk she could see the framework of the third floor, but the majority of the construction work and crew were on the second floor.
Face it, Sarah. There’s no way a man like Mr. G would ever want anything to do with a plain little Jane Eyre like you. No way. Not when he could have just about any woman he wanted to butter his biscuits as nicely as he pleased, thank you.
No. She would have to be content to live out her life married to her work. If she was extremely lucky, she might find someone with enough intelligence and a modicum of personality that she could marry. Maybe even tolerate him enough to have a kid or two. Maybe.
That was going to be her lot in life. She had known it for a long time. A mediocre life in a mediocre town. If ever she was going to leave her mark in the world, it would have to be through her work. That was her priority, and it had been ever since she was a freshman in high school.
On the computer screen the little multicolored boxes rotated and flipped and gyrated with abandon. Fifteen minutes. She had been idle for fifteen minutes. Well, screw it. It could remain idle for another fifteen minutes. She needed to get up and get a little fresh air and a cup of coffee. Then she could return to her work and hopefully get this one particularly irritating chapter put to bed.
And perhaps by then it would be time to put herself to bed, as well.