Down to Earth

Megan Slayer
Available from Changeling Press

Ike grabbed her bag and opened the door. He stopped toying with his tongue piercing. “Lulah, you’re gonna drive me to drinking.”
“My name is Tallulah Brown.” She followed him into the elevator. “Please call me by my name and give me my purse.”
Ike pressed the buttons, then leaned against the back wall of the elevator car as the doors closed. “Why do you hate me, Miss Tallulah Brown? Besides acting like a dick and running over your bike, explain what’s so repulsive about me.” He held her bag tighter. “You tell me and I’ll fork over the bag.”
“Me? I’m getting the jump on the mutual animosity. You think I can’t play and can’t remember my name. I think you’re a jerk. We’re even.”
His arm muscles bulged, and his pecs seemed to swell a bit, but he didn’t hand over her purse. Tallulah groaned. She wasn’t going to cower, but damn it, he made her feel miniscule.
“I don’t hate you or think you can’t play.” He straightened out the strap of the bag and held it out. “I heard your demo tracks. They’re hot and tight. I appreciate your talent.”
She rolled her eyes and took the bag. Okay, yes, she’d accept the compliment, but hearing those words from him was just odd. She focused on the tiled floor. Maybe she should’ve just let him carry the damned case. Her normal load seemed so much heavier. Was it really, or was there something more going on? The spark she’d felt on stage was one-sided. Had to be. He didn’t care for her. He was pandering to her ego. She’d seen her reflection in the mirror in the bathroom. It wasn’t like she’d win any beauty competitions. She might be short, but she was far from skinny. Add in the wash-and-go way she wore her hair, and most men didn’t see her in the crowd.
Ike inched toward her and tipped his head. “I don’t affect you, do I?”
“What?” Damn. She’d spent too much time thinking and not enough paying attention. “Sorry. Continue.”
“You’re not turned on by me. I’m not sure how I feel about that.” He stepped back a foot and shoved his hands into his pants pockets. “Correction, I do know how I feel. My interest is piqued. I don’t think I’ve met a woman other than Atria who hasn’t wanted to jump in the sack with me. I kinda like it, Lulah.” He nodded. “Actually, I like it a lot.” The elevator bell dinged, saving her from responding. The thought of planting her fist into his stomach held merit, but why bother? She’d probably break her hand. For one of the few times in her life, she wished she could manipulate her element to open the ground beneath him. The dirt could swallow him and rid her of his irritatingly sexy presence. Nope. Her element wanted to fill the room with flowers and vines.
“Did you hear me?”
Tallulah stared at him. She’d missed more of the conversation. Crap. “I’m sorry. One more time?”
“Where do you live? I’m asking because the snow’s really flying. I’ll take you home.”

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