This vision, this girl, this woman, looked at him, and her sparkling blue eyes captivated him. He couldn't talk, couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized he had the same effect on her. She was equally incapable of speech.
In their forced silence, he drank her in. She had the face of an angel, every inch of it meshed into absolute glory, perfection. Her blue eyes stared into him the way no one except Jenna ever had. Long wavy blonde hair ran down past her shoulders, and some rested just above the top of her breasts, which were small but perky, perfect. Her lithe, supple body, one only youth could display with such brazen bravado, ran down to painted on blue jeans that took his imagination to blistering heights it hadn't been in over five years.
Good god, what was going on here? He hadn't been truly attracted to another woman since Jenna, and now this goddess, this girl … She was just a girl, not a day over eighteen. If that. Oh, lord, let her be at least eighteen. Not that he expected anything to happen except for him to sign her book once he snapped out of this trance, but he didn't want to be lusting after an underage girl. These thoughts about an eighteen year old — literally half his age at 36 — were bad enough. He didn't need to consider himself a pedobear on top of it all.
He tried saying "Hi," or "How are you?" or anything to snap himself out of this, but words refused to wind themselves from his brain to his mouth. His throat and chest clutched tight, his heart hammered, and he felt lightheaded, dizzy. Jesus, Jenna hadn't even struck him this hard when they'd first met. (Though, to be honest, she had plenty of times later.)
Nell cleared her throat at the head of the line where she kept everything organized. Oh, crap, how long had he been lost? He smiled up at the girl, and she seemed to break out of her own trance.
"Hi, Aaron Welch." He stuck out his hand for her to shake. Oh, jeez, how dumb was that? Could he be any more of a lame-o? Of course she already knew who he was, but instead of laughing at him or rolling her eyes or anything else, she gave him a huge, dazzling smile and took his hand. Electric sparks jumped through him, and it was all he could do to not spasm right along with it. By the look on her face, she experienced the same.
"Hi. I'm Hannah. Hannah Bailey." He grinned at how she had to force her voice out louder than a whisper. What was it about her? She was that wonderful mix of drop-dead gorgeous and cute as a button. But, hell, he'd seen many beautiful ladies in the past five years, and none made him feel like this.
He shook his head fast to clear the fog. He was the professional here, and it was time he acted like it. "Well, Hannah, Hannah Bailey, did you wander into line by mistake? You look much too young to be reading what I write."
"Oh, no, I'm here to see you. You're my favorite author. I've bought all your books on the first day they were out. Well, not the first one, but I did get it the first time I saw it. I was drawn to it for some reason, and when I read it, I was hooked on you. Your writing," she quickly amended, her cheeks flushing red.
"But how was a ten-year-old drawn to such an explicit book?" he asked, purposely giving her a much younger age in hopes of revealing her real one since Bloody Waders only came out four years ago.
And, bingo, it worked. She scoffed and said, "How young do you think I am? I was fourteen when that came out. I'm eighteen now, I'll have you know."
He smiled, his unnatural hunger for her stronger than ever. Not that it mattered for anything other than his own peace of mind, but at least she was of legal age to lust over. He'd have been disgusted with himself had she only been seventeen. He wasn't real pleased anyway now that it was official — she was literally half his age.
She blushed. "You were teasing me. Sorry. I love your writing so much, and meeting you is a dream come true, and …" She trailed off, a wistful look on her face, one he suppose matched his.
At that moment, Nell caught his eye, trying to get him to hurry this along. He nodded, offering her an apologetic look. He wished he could talk to Hannah all night, but there were others waiting.
"Listen," he said, again taking in her hypnotic blue eyes. "I'll be done here in less than an hour. Would you like to grab some coffee or something?"
"Yes, I'd love that." Her most brilliant smile yet illuminated her face, making it hard for him to breathe.
"So I can pick your brain about why my books appeal to you," he quickly added, trying to convince himself of that as much as her.
"Of course," Hannah said. She stepped away from the table. "I'll be browsing until then, okay?"
"Yeah, good." He didn't want to lose sight of her, but the next person was already on the way to the table. It was only after he'd given his signature to that fan and made a few seconds of small talk that he realized he hadn't signed Hannah's book. Ah well, he could do it at the coffee shop. As long as she didn't come to her senses, realize the huge age difference, and leave.
The rest of the signing took forever, but also went by in a blur.