That fuzzy, flame-colored beard of his must tickle. What would it feel like brushing against her breasts, over her belly, between her thighs?
She bit her lip hard. Too much time in the red room.
The guy turned toward her and grinned. Was it just her imagination, or did his eyes flash when they met hers? Warm hazel eyes, thickly lashed and sparkling with playful energy.
A happy little vibration rose from her belly and twitched the corners of her mouth upward—until she recognized him.
Oh, yuck. This guy. She’d seen him hanging around the shop, flirting with Laurel, all swaggering, macho bullshit. She remembered how Doug, Laurel’s boyfriend, had tensed like an angry stork and glared at the shorter, buffer man.
Maxie waved. “Margot, you remember Elmer? He gave me a ride.” She nudged him with her bony elbow. “Isn’t he cute?”
Real cute. And he knows it.
“How’s it going, Margot?” His grin widened as his gaze flicked down her body and back up.
No way to avoid his extended hand without offending Maxie, so she took it. Warm, calloused, his grip firm but not too tight. A tattoo of a foaming beer mug adorned the back of his hand. Beneath the copper hair on his forearm, pretty muscles flexed.
Feet on the ground, DuPont. You’ve got no time for flirtatious fuzz-beards.
Maxie’s merry gaze flicked from Elmer to Margot. “He’s exhibiting at the Rainbow Center on Saturday.” She grinned up at Elmer. “Margot helped Laurel design that poster for the art show.”
His eyebrows rose. “That’s your work? Really nice.”
She shook her head. “It’s Laurel’s work. I just helped her with the graphic design software.”
“Graphic design? Like ads and words and stuff?”
She curled her lip and prepared for battle with yet another snooty artist who looked down his precious nose at graphic arts, like nothing with words or photos could ever count as real art. “I make stuff everyone sees, not just rich people in art galleries.” She stepped closer, glaring up into his startled face while she ticked off on her fingers. “Posters for community events, book covers, the logo for this shop, and its website and signage and—”
He raised both hands and backed off a few steps. “Relax, angry elf. I wasn’t putting down your work, okay? I said I liked the poster. Jeesh.”
Maxie’s painted-on auburn brows rumpled. “Margot, I’m surprised at you.”
That stung. She lowered her gaze and shuffled her boots. “Yeah, well, I’m sick of snobby artists.”
He crossed athletic arms over his impressive pecs. “I’m not one of them.”
Her cheeks flushed hot. “Okay, cool. Sorry. So, um, what are you exhibiting at the show?”
“Ceramics. Beer steins, mostly. Donated a dozen to the Rainbow Arts Center.” He winked, her dig seemingly forgotten. “If someone likes my stuff, maybe they’ll order a complete set.”
Beer mugs. Definitely not snooty. Embarrassment drilled deeper into her skull.
The pretty potter smooched Maxie’s cheek. “Well, gotta shove off. Max, I’ll pick you up at ten on Saturday. Ladies.” He pantomimed lifting a hat brim, then ambled toward the door.
Maxie prodded Margot’s boot with her cane. “Why’d you bite his head off? He’s a nice boy. You should ask him out.”
She rolled her eyes. “Max, I’m not looking to date right now. Especially not that guy.”
“What’s wrong with Elmer?”
“I’ve seen him in action. He flirts for sport. I’m not gonna be anyone’s plaything.”
The doorway bell tinkled as Elmer strolled through. Laurel looked up from wiping the counter. “You want to wait in the café, Aunt Maxie? I’ll be done in fifteen minutes.”
“Of course, doll.” Maxie tottered toward the coffee shop next door.
Margot moved behind the counter and watched through the plate-glass window as Elmer crossed the street and unlocked his rust-bucket pickup. “Pain in the ass, isn’t he?” Nice ass, though. Firm and crunchy.
Laurel chuckled. “Oh, he’s not so bad. I think he just flirts out of habit, like some people nibble their nails or twiddle their hair.” She turned away to straighten a pile of flyers. “Margot, do you—um…”
“Do you date guys?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Sometimes. Why?”
“On his way out, he asked about you.”
“Oh, so I should date him, get him off your back?” She scrubbed her fingers through her hair. “No thanks.”
“Well, I hope you’ll come to the art show anyway. I’m running the race at ten, but I’ll help with the set-up beforehand.” She cracked a crooked smile. “I’ll do my best to corral Elmer. Gotta warn you, though—if he sets his mind on you, he’s persistent.”
“Don’t worry.” She shoved a hand through her spiky hair. “I can handle pushy guys. I know how to push back.”