I died for a short while the first time we met. There was no fluttering in my chest, no somersault of my stomach, no burning in my loins; my heart literally stopped. He was tall, at least six foot four, and dressed in a pair of worn indigo jeans that perfectly matched his intense stare. A silk black shirt covered what I imagined to be a ripple of hard muscle, and opened at the top, showing a dusting of tight dark curls. His thick neck led towards a razor-sharp, square jaw line, a straight nose that had clearly never seen the ill-effects of rough play, and deep hooded eyes. Hair that could have been straight had been styled with a slight wave. I was sure it was dark brown, but it could have easily been black, and had shots of silver-grey streaking through it.
My face was lined with his toes, or more precisely, his pristinely polished black patent Chukka boots. Palms down in the thick mud beneath me, I pushed up and let my eyes glance at the man in front of me. He looked none-to-pleased to see his clothes spattered with flecks of dirt from where I had landed and splashed him.
I struggled to get to my feet as my own boots dug into the ground, slipping against the wet grass. Eventually I found my knees and leant back, looking up at him. I forced a grin on my mud-covered face, but he didn’t return it. Finally able to stand without landing on my backside, I wiped my hands down the sides of my bare thighs.
His glare speared through the apology that I tried to splutter, words failing to come from my vocal chords. In the distance I heard someone call my name. Looking over my shoulder I could see my teammates beckoning me to re-join the group. “Sorry,” the word leapt forward.
A dark eyebrow flicked upwards. “Are you going to pay for that?” he asked, snapping each word as though he was talking to some insolent child.
“It’s a muddy field, you’re watching a rugby match,” I countered, my eyes narrowing. “Try stepping away from the lines.”
“You’ve got a mouth on you.” A smile twitched at the corners of his lips. I’ve got a mouth on me? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I was about to make some loud comment about him being arrogant and conceited, but the captain of the team had already reached my heel.
“You coming?” Lou tugged on my elbow, throwing a smile towards the man who loomed over me.
“Yeah,” I said racing back into the game.
“Who’s your friend?” Lou asked, nodding towards Tall, Dark, and Smouldering.
“I haven’t got a clue, but he wasn’t impressed by my skidding halt!” I laughed, tossing her the ball.
We finished practise at two o’clock, as we did every Saturday afternoon. I listened to the laughter and loud chattering of my teammates and friends, as I scrubbed at the mud that caked my arms, legs, and face. Warm water pummelled at my aching muscles, I rubbed away the sweat with a floral scented shower gel. I made a point of using feminine scented products, since I lived in such a masculine world.
Not only did I play rugby, a game that my mother always told me was unbecoming for a woman of my standing, but I also lived with two men and worked in an office where I was the only female. I was also incredibly single.