Just when I was starting to give up hope, an amazing set of arms wrapped around me and I was suddenly being hoisted up onto the speaker. I was placed down and one of those arms stretched out in front of me to keep me from falling forward. I took a second to catch my breath and turned to thank whoever grabbed me. As soon as I caught sight of his clear blue eyes, my breath hitched and I was momentarily stunned silent. I continued my exploration of the person beside me and discovered a chiseled square jaw lightly sprinkled with five o’clock shadow. His face was framed with messy dark brown hair. My gaze slowly wandered downward and found the most masculine pair of broad shoulders a girl could ever ask for. His t-shirt was pulled tight over his chest and biceps and his mid-section dipped down into a perfect ‘V’. His dark blue jeans perfectly accentuated his muscular legs which hung over the edge of the speaker. I looked back up into those eyes and he smiled the most jaw dropping smile revealing two dimples on either side of his mouth.
He leaned over to speak closer to my ear. “Sorry to manhandle you without permission, but you looked like you could use some help down there.” His voice was a deep enough timbre that it wasn’t difficult for me to hear him over the music. I continued staring at his sculpted mouth like an idiot and then shook my head to free myself from his spell. I could feel my face getting hot from looking at him.
“Uh, yeah, thanks for that. It normally doesn’t get that bad down there and I wasn’t expecting to get trapped.” I smiled at him and then turned my attention back to the stage. The band was starting in on their second song and the crowd calmed for a moment before picking it back up with the increasing tempo of the song.
He leaned over to me again. “No problem beautiful, I’m always happy to assist a fair damsel in her time of distress.” Even though his lips were brushing over my ear, causing tremors, and his hot breath rolling down my neck was doing wonderful things for my body, I was suddenly annoyed.
I shouted over the music at him. “Please don’t say that.”
“What?” He looked at me and his confusion at what I had said was clearly written in his expression.
“Don’t call me a damsel in distress. It’s degrading and I don’t appreciate being classified by use of a demeaning stereotype.” I turned my attention back to the stage for a second time and we sat watching the show without speaking. I was distinctly aware of his shoulder and thigh pressing into my side and I was disturbed by how his body heat was affecting me. His cologne weaved a trail straight over to my face and I breathed it in deeply before realizing what I was doing. After a blissful half hour of music immersion, the band finished their set and I discovered that I had started leaning into him. I also realized how thirsty I was and was thankful that I could go get something to drink. The problem with being stuck on a speaker is that it doesn’t often present the opportunity to refresh your beverage.
The crowd below us started to disperse from the pit and he jumped down from the speaker. I scooted my butt as far to the front as I could and looked down preparing to jump. It was at that moment I remembered I hated heights and I quickly determined that I was in the middle of an unfortunate predicament.
I looked to my right and left hoping that someone had the foresight to install a ladder on the sides of the speaker. When it became clear that I was out of luck in that department, I looked down into the eyes of my newest acquaintance. He had a smug look on his face as he watched me attempt to get down. He reached up his hands to offer assistance and chuckled.
“From where I’m standing, ‘damsel in distress’ might be an adequate category for you. This is the second time I’ve had to come to your rescue in the last hour.”
This guy was really starting to piss me off. Who the hell does he think he is anyway?! If it wasn’t for him coming to my rescue in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I slapped his hand away and scowled down at him.
“No thanks on that rescue attempt. I can get down perfectly fine by myself. Just step back so I don’t land on top of you.”
His eyes darkened and then quickly filled with humor. His voice lowered an octave when he replied, “Oh, the threat of you on top of me is supposed to make me move? Because, I can promise you damsel, I’m not feeling real motivated to budge even an inch.”
I flashed him my best menacing stare. “I’ll tell you this one more time, Do. Not. Call. Me. Damsel.” I pointed my finger in his face to drive my message home. It must have worked because he removed his outstretched hand. He stepped back from where he had been standing and held his arms out to his sides in defeat.
That’s right, mister, fear the ninja.
I turned my body around, determined to shimmy down the side of the speaker and then drop the last foot to the ground. I got my lower body safely over the edge, but my shirt caught on the corner and I was stuck there with my bottom in perfect view of Mr. Arrogant standing behind me.
“This is a delightful view. I almost wish I had a camera. Are you sure I can’t help?”
My air huffed out from annoyance before I freed my shirt and started shimmying over. I finally dropped to the floor and looked over my shoulder to find my acquaintance openly staring at my assets. His eyes wove a slow path up my body and stopped suddenly on the dragonfly tattoo on my shoulder. His eyes widened and he looked up to my face, grabbed my shoulders and spun me around to face him.
“What is your name?!”
I was shocked by his sudden intensity and I couldn’t process what he had just asked me. I stared into his eyes but didn’t say a word. He continued to hold me by the shoulders and was searching my face and body as if trying to memorize me. He looked back up at me and slightly shook me out of frustration.
“Your name. What is it?”
I shook away my stupor once again and jerked my shoulders out of his grasp. I took a step back and looked up at him in challenge. “Why the hell would I want to tell YOU my name?! Thanks for the earlier assistance, but you can forget that you know me now.” I turned to walk away and he called out to me again.
“That’s fine if you don’t want to tell me your name. I’ll take your refusal as a clear indication that you wish for me to continue calling you damsel.”
My jaw dropped and I turned back around. “If you really think I’m dumb enough to fall for that crappy manipulation tactic, then I should be upfront and honest with you now. You are clearly confused about the type of woman that I am. I am not the type that needs rescuing and I am not the type that swoons over a beautiful face and a deep rumbly voice...” He grinned at that and I quickly realized my error. Refusing to acknowledge that I just called him beautiful, I continued, “…and it is pathetic for any person, male or female, to refuse information about themselves in order to continue some type of crappy pet name.”
Those dimples of his popped out and his eyes smiled right along with his mouth. “I’ll make a pact with you; you tell me your name, and I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night.”
I considered his offer. If he was telling the truth, I could end this aggravating encounter now just by giving him my name. On the other hand, if he was lying, than at least he might stop calling me damsel. There really was no down side to this situation. I decided to play hard ball anyway.
“I’m not enough of an imbecile to believe that you mean that. How do I know you will stick to that agreement?”
He looked at me with a matter of fact expression and seemed to be considering my question. After a moment of intense introspection he formulated his response. “You don’t.”
Well, there you have it.
Defeatedly, I muttered, “Paige. My name is Paige.”