Ryder (Slater Brothers #4)(9) by L.A. Casey

Everything happened rapidly when Aideen grabbed hold of my hand and quite literally tugged me along behind her as she briskly walked off the dance floor, not caring that body after drunken body was in our way. I shouted for her to slow down, but either she couldn’t hear me over the music, or she flat out ignored me. I only shouted once because I became very self-aware that I was shite at walking in heels, and brisk walking in them could very well cause my immediate death.

When we made it through the crowd and across the dance floor I silently thanked God that I survived, but then quickly asked him to take my life when I realised where Aideen brought us to a stop. We were no more than a metre away from the very booth that the stunning Ryder Slater was sat at. He was looking down at his phone, but when he noticed we were standing next to his table staring at him, he pocketed his phone and gave us his full attention.

I stepped behind Aideen out of sheer mortification.

“Hiya,” she shouted over the music. “I’m Aideen, and this is Branna, we thought you might like some company. You look a little lost sittin’ over here on your own.”

How can she speak to him, or any man, with such confidence? I wondered. I would never be able to do that, not without looking like an utter fool in the process.

I was jolted from my thoughts when Aideen turned to me, and roughly pulled me out from my hiding spot behind her. I stumbled to her side and knocked my knee against hers causing me to hiss. I resisted the urge to rub the sting away, because my attention was now on the grey eyes that were trained on me.

Oh, hell.

“Hello,” Ryder said at the exact same time the song playing changed. It allowed me to hear how deep his voice was, and how wicked his accent sounded.

I waved at him—like an idiot—and said, “Hey.”

His lips twitched and I wondered if he already thought I wasn’t worth the trouble of talking to.

“Would you like to join me?” he asked, raising his voice to be heard over the now thumping sound that filled the club.

I swallowed, and stared at him with shock.

Aideen jabbed her elbow in my side and answered for me. “She’d love to,” she gushed.

She put her small hand on the base of my spine and pushed me to the side of the booth Ryder was sitting on, and I didn’t know why, but I resisted. I suddenly felt like I was being fed to the sharks. I brought my face to Aideen’s and said, “I can’t do this, I feel too idiotic to sit next to him. I don’t trust meself not to say somethin’ stupid.”

Aideen completely ignored me and turned me around to face Ryder—who hadn’t moved an inch since we arrived at the table—and nudged me forward with both of her hands. To avoid falling on top of Ryder, I had to turn on my side and drop into a sitting position next to him. I didn’t look at him out of fear I’d see amusement on his face, so instead I looked to my friend—I use that term very loosely—and tapped the empty spot next to me, but she shook her head, grinning.

I widened my eyes, and pleaded with Aideen not to leave me through my skull drilling stare.

“I’m goin’ to go and get us some drinks,” she stated. “You two get to know each other, I won’t be long.”

I gasped when she turned and almost instantly got lost in the crowd. I sat up straight and searched for her in hopes I would see her, but I only saw strangers move their bodies to the playing music.

“Oh, my God,” I whispered.

I sat very still for a few seconds before I plucked up the courage to take a glimpse at Ryder. I froze when I found his eyes were on me, and a smile had taken over his face. The sigh that left my body was one of need, because if I thought Ryder was incredible looking before, seeing him smile almost had me proposing to him. Almost.

“Are you okay?” he asked, a hint of concern in his tone.

I knew I couldn’t get away with lying, Aideen and Bronagh told me enough times that my face told everything I kept inside, so I decided to be honest. I shook my head to Ryder’s question and said, “I didn’t know she was goin’ to abandon me like that. I’m so sorry, it was her idea to come over here, not mine.”

Ryder’s lips quirked as he said, “I’m glad she thought of it.”

I blinked, dumbly. “You are?”

“Of course,” he nodded. “I probably would have never seen you otherwise. I’ve found over the last few weeks that this club is always wall-to-wall full. You’re such a tiny thing; it’d be easy to miss you in the sea of bodies. And that would be a true tragedy.”

Branna, breathe, my mind, and lungs, urged.

I sucked in a breath and exhaled it almost immediately, and it made Ryder chuckle.

“Darling, you look like I’m going to eat you up.” His eyes held a glint of mischief as he spoke. “I won’t bite you, I promise. Not yet anyway.”

Fuck.

I cleared my throat and said, “I’m sorry.”

This caused him to raise an eyebrow. “Why’re you sorry?”

I lifted my arm and scratched my neck. “For being so awkward.”

He smiled again, and really tempted me to bite a chuck out of him.

“It’s not awkward,” he said. “It’s nervousness, which is the part I don’t get.”

I felt my cheeks heat up. “What don’t you get?”

He lifted his arm and stretched it out on the booth seat behind me before he leaned in closer. I felt his breath on my face and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes back as it invaded my senses.

I want to taste him, my mind wickedly whispered.

I blinked my eyes when Ryder’s voice gained my full attention. “I don’t get why a woman who looks as edible as you is so shy.”

I didn’t know whether to run away with embarrassment, or fuck him where he sat.

“I don’t usually do this,” I swallowed. I’m not one to walk up to men and talk to them which is why me friend physically pulled me over to you.”

Ryder’s eyebrows rose with surprise. “Usually I’d call bullshit, but I think I believe you.”

I didn’t know what to say to that, so I said nothing. This decision prompted him to lean even closer to me which had my heart slam into my chest. “What is your name?” he asked me, his eyes scanning my face with an intensity that caused me to suck in another very large breath. “I didn’t hear your friend very well when she introduced you both.”

His. Voice.

I could hear it very clearly now that he was so close. A man’s voice had never caused an ache to rapidly pulse between my thighs, but Ryder’s voice was doing exactly that. It was a little unsettling because my body was reacting to him in such a way that scared me.

“Branna,” I whispered.

He dipped his head even closer to mine and said, “One more time, beautiful, I didn’t catch that.”

Sweet Jesus, my mind gushed. Did he really mean that?

Aideen and my sister had told me enough times that I was beautiful, and some boys I dated over the years mentioned it here and there; but never a man, and that was exactly what Ryder was. A knicker dropping, fuck me hard as you can, man.

I cleared my throat and tried my best to ignore the sinful thoughts that had invaded my mind, but Ryder’s closeness allowed his delicious scent to surround me, and I had trouble concentrating because of it.

“Branna,” I said louder, licking my dry lips. “Me name is Branna.”

Ryder’s heated eyes returned to mine, and a smirk curved his mouth. “Branna,” his voice was low and husky when he spoke.

Shit. Fuck.

“Yeah,” I rasped, refraining from throwing myself at him and begging him to take away the aching pain between my thighs that he so brutally, and unknowingly, caused.

“I’m Ryder,” he said and held his hand out to me.

I swallowed, and with a trembling limb, I lifted my arm and placed my tiny palm in his very large one. “It’s nice to meet you, Ryder.”

He gripped my hand and tugged me closer to him until our chests touch. He gazed down at me, a grin playing on his plump lips as he said, “The pleasure is all mine, Branna.”

If he said my name in that low, husky seductive tone one more time, I was going to jump him in front of all of these people. Fuck my pride and dignity.

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