“Let’s play a game.” Michelle placed a crystal bowl on the coffee table in the center of the room. The sofas were gathered together so everyone could be in a loose circle around the table.
Some of the guys had jockeyed to sit beside Michelle, but Ashton wanted to be able to look her in the eye. He positioned himself just across the table, in between Brock and Victor.
“Since there are twenty of you, I’ve made up twenty questions.” She settled on the edge of the sofa and glanced around. “When you draw one from the bowl, you answer that question, then we’ll go around the room and each of us will answer the same question. Then we’ll pick another question.”
“That’s brilliant,” Ashton said. Heads turned, and she smiled across the table at him. He shrugged. “Everyone can get to know each other all at once. We can eliminate the awkward ‘hey man, what do you do for a living?’ and you won’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time telling your life story over and over.”
“Thank you, yes. That’s actually our first question.” Michelle nodded to Ashton. “I want each of you to tell us your name, where you live, and what you do for a living.”
She seemed to keep her gaze directed toward him. Ashton gulped.
“Would you like to go first?” She asked. “Remind me your name.”
That brought chuckles and knee slapping and Brock bumped shoulders with Ashton. “You’ve started things off right.”
“I know who’s not getting the At-First-Sight letter,” one guy mumbled.
“That’s too bad, buddy.”
“Now, now, gentlemen.” Michelle held up her hands to settle them down. “I don’t remember most of your names.” She glanced around, but her eyes settled a little too long on Victor. Ashton fought the urge to grunt and narrow his eyes at the smooth-talker beside him. Michelle looked back at Ashton and nodded her head for him to start.”
“I’m Ashton.” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat. “I live in Hawaii, and I’m a professional surfer.”
“I thought you said you were from Arkansas.” Suspicion laced the confusion in her voice and she folded her arms across her chest.
“I am. I spent a couple of years over in Hawaii when I was nineteen and loved it so much I moved out there.” Ashton shrugged. “And apparently I have a natural affinity for surfing because once I got on a board, they couldn’t get me back out of the water.”
“You’re really a professional surfer?” Michelle raised her eyebrows. “I didn’t even know you could make a career out of that.”
“You can if you’re as good as I am.” He mirrored her folded arms and raised eyebrows, challenging her to question his talent further. She was the first to relent.
“Well, there’s an ocean right outside those doors and down the hill, maybe you could show us some of your skills on one of our hang-outs.” Her voice shifted to flirtation and Ashton jumped on the opportunity to flirt back. He leaned forward and lowered his voice to a soft purr.
“I’ll do even better than that and give you a private lesson.”
“Ooo!” Several guys called out responses.
“You go, Ashton!”
“I don’t think she’ll be quite as interested in a private lesson in computer programming.”
“He’s just looking for the chance to show off his abs.”
“Or see her in a swimsuit.”
Ashton maintained eye contact with Michelle as they jeered. He bit his lower lip in what he hoped was a seductive expression and the whole combination had her flushed. She waved her hand before her face like a fan.
“I don’t think she’ll forget your name again, buddy.” Brock patted him on the shoulder and Ashton finally sat back into the sofa, not breaking eye contact until she did.
“Okay…” Michelle cleared her throat. “Who would like to go next?”
“Who wants to follow that?” a guy mumbled.
“Victor?” Michelle shifted her focus and raised her eyebrows. “How about you?”
(To Be Continued…)