Page 6 of VCard for Christmas

His hands go to my waist, and he squeezes me almost possessively. “You don’t have a clue, do you?”

I try to step back, but he just holds me tighter. What do I not have a clue about? I’m already embarrassed that I’ve had to go to three different stores just to find my size of clothing. I can feel my face heat under his scrutiny. “I’m a big girl, Lincoln. I can’t help it if stores don’t carry clothes that fit me.”

He lifts his chin. “Fuck them. You could wear a fuckin’ sheet and be stunning. I’m talking about you. You don’t have a clue about how beautiful you are—"

I shake my head, interrupting him. “I’m not bea—"

“You are.” His hands go to my hips, and I almost forget to breathe. “I’ve almost had to pluck a guy’s eyeballs out for staring at you. Everywhere we go, they’re watching. Is it like this all the time?”

I shake my head in confusion. “What are you even talking about?”

He bends down until we’re almost nose to nose. “I’m talking about men hitting on you, following you, and staring at you. Is it always like this?”

I’m speechless. He must see the clueless look on my face, and his eyebrows jump. “Oh my God, you really have no idea.”

I put my hand on his chest to shove him. He’s obviously joking with me. “Whatever, Lincoln.”

He grabs on to my hand and holds it to his chest. “It’s true, Avery. You’re a fuckin’ angel. That beautiful face, that smile that makes a person feel like they’re the only damn person in the world, that body that any man would kill to be over, under, or in. Yeah, baby. You! You’re beautiful.”

He’s taking deep breaths, and his heart feels like he just ran a race as it thumps under my palm. What I thought was a joke obviously isn’t. There’s no way I can doubt anything he’s saying right now with the way he’s staring at me. It’s as if he’s daring me to disagree. A part of me wants to, but another part of me wonders if he’s determined to show me he’s for real, and am I ready for it? I’m no match for this older, more experienced man. “Uh...”

He takes three deep breaths, and I can physically see him putting his guard up and distance between us.

“Clothes,” he says.

I blink in confusion. “Huh?”

He drops his hand from my waist and steps back. “Clothes. We’re here for a dress. Let’s do that and get the hell out of here.”

I nod and avert my eyes. I want to ask him more. He seems on edge, and even though I haven’t known him long, he doesn’t seem the type that lets much bother him. “Okay.”

I walk away, across the store to the dresses. I grab a few off the rack and head straight back to the dressing room. As I’m going, I notice the man from earlier. He’s standing next to a woman but he’s not paying attention to her. He’s watching me. Instead of smiling like I normally would, I keep going and don’t stop until I’m behind the closed door of the dressing room.

I look in the mirror, trying to see what Lincoln says he sees in me, but I don’t. It’s still just me, plain Avery with the mousy brown hair and the plus size figure. I blow out a breath and start to undress. I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off tonight, but I’ve already committed, and there’s no way I can back out now. Plus, just the thought of his friend’s wife hitting on him has my stomach rolling over.

I get down to my panties and bra and pull the first dress off the hanger. It’s a fitted blue dress, and as soon as I pull it on, I’m pulling it off. The wrap style is definitely not for my body type. I hang the dress up and am pulling down the next one when Lincoln’s deep voice comes through the door. “I wanna see.”

I don’t know if it’s his deep throaty voice or knowing that I’m almost naked and he’s right outside the door, but I have a full body tremble. “Okay,” I squeak and then clear my throat. “I’ll show you the next one.”

I pull the red dress off the hanger and slide it over my head. The sweetheart neckline is a little low, but the flair of the skirt is at least flattering. I try to zip it, but I can’t get it all the way up.

“Avery,” Lincoln says.

I pull my shoulders back and open the dressing room door. “I can’t zip it up.”

His gaze travels down my body and back up again. When his eyes meet mine, his eyes are a darker shade of blue, and the desire I see there I’m sure is reflected in mine. He pushes himself into the dressing room and shuts the door behind him. “It’s perfect.”