Midnight Bayou Page 33

"You're full of surprises.”

"Bet your ass." He swung her into his arms, had her blood pressure spiking when he ran his hands down her body and gripped her hips. Her body rolled against his, a wave sliding under a wave while a tenor sax wailed.

He dipped her, had her laughing even as her pulse went thick. She let her head fall back, her hair stream down as he lowered his face toward hers. His lips skimmed over her chin, just a hint of teeth, then he swept her up again, circled her, seduced her.

The lights were a warm, smoky blue, and his movements fluid so it was like moving underwater. The yearning she wasn't ready for crawled into her belly. With her eyes half closed, she skimmed a hand into his hair, brought his face closer, that last inch closer so his mouth met hers.

"You fit, Lena. We fit.”

She shook her head, turned it so her cheek rested against his. "You make love half as well as you dance, you must have a trail of female smiles in your wake.”

"Let me show you." He nipped at her earlobe, and felt her quick shiver. "I want to touch you. I know how your skin will feel under my hands. I dreamed about it.”

She kept her eyes closed, tried to lock away the yearning. "Just dance with me. It's getting late, and I want one more dance.”

She rested her head on his shoulder in the limo. The music, the wine, the soft lights were all still playing in her head. She felt drenched in romance, and knowing that had been his intention didn't diminish the effect. It only enhanced it.

He was a man who would trouble himself with the details. The large and the small. With the house he'd chosen, with the woman he wanted.

She admired that. Admired him.

"You show a girl a good time, cher.”

"Let me show you one tomorrow night.”

"I work tomorrow night.”

"Your next night off, then.”

"I'm going to think about that. I'm not being coy, Declan." She sat up so she could look at him. "I don't like coy. I'm being cautious. I can't say I care much for that, either, but where you're concerned I think it's the smart thing to be. And I do like being smart.”

As the limo glided to the curb in front of her home, she trailed a finger down his cheek. "Now you walk me to my door, and kiss me good-night.”

He carried the silver bucket with the purple tulips. He set them down in front of her door, then framed her face in his hands.

The kiss was sweeter than she'd expected.

She'd been prepared for heat, the persuasive, pervasive heat that might melt her resistance. Instead he gave her the sweet, and the gentle, ending the evening as he'd begun it. With romance.

"How about before you go to work?" He lifted her hand to his lips now. "I'll take you on a picnic.”

Undone, she stared at him. "A picnic?”

"It should be warm enough. We can spread a blanket by the pond. You can bring Rufus along as chaperone. I like watching him jump in.”

"Damn it." She caught his face in her hands now. "Damn it. I want you to go on down to that big white limo.”

"Okay." He touched her hair. "I'll just wait until you're inside.”

"Go down to the limo," she repeated. "And pay that driver, and tell him to go on home. Then you come back up.”

He closed his hands over her wrists, felt the trip of her pulse. "Five minutes. Don't change your mind. Two minutes," he amended. "Time me.”

As he bolted down the stairs, she picked up her flowers, let herself inside. If it was a mistake, she thought, it wouldn't be her first. Or her last.

She lit the candles, put on some Billie Holiday. Sex should be easy, she reminded herself. When it was between two unattached adults with, well, at least some affection along with the lust, it should be a celebration.

Whether or not she'd been persuaded, the decision was hers. There was no point in regretting it before it had even begun.

He knocked. The idea that he would, rather than just walking in, made her smile. Good manners and hot blood. It was an interesting combination. Irresistible.

She opened the door, and Billie Holiday's heartbreak streamed out. Declan slid his hands into his pockets and smiled at her.

"Hi.”

"Hi back, handsome." Lena reached out and grabbed his tie. "Come on in here." She tugged, and pulled him in the door. And, walking backward, would have pulled him straight into the bedroom.

But he laid his hands on her hips, drew her to him. "I like your music." He eased her into a dance. "When I can see something besides you, I'll tell you if I like your place.”

"Did you take lessons on what to say to have women falling for you?”

"Natural gift." He brushed his lips at each corner of her mouth. Over that sexy little mole. "The streets of Boston are littered with my conquests. It was playing hell with traffic, so the city council asked me to leave." He skimmed his cheek over hers. "I smell you in my sleep. And wake up wanting you.”

Her heart began to shiver, like something feeling warmth after a long freeze. "I knew you were trouble, the minute you stepped up to my bar." She stretched under the hand that ran down her back. "I just didn't know how much trouble.”

"Plenty." He scooped her off her feet, crushed his mouth to hers until they both moaned. "Which way?”

"Mmm. I've got a number of ways in mind.”

What blood was left in his head shot straight down to his loins. "Ha. I meant which way is your bedroom.”

With a low laugh, she chewed on his bottom lip. "Door on the left."

He had a number of impressions as he carried her across the room, through the doorway. Vibrant colors, old wood. But most of his senses were wrapped around the woman in his arms. The weight of her, the shape and scent. The surprise that flickered over her face when he set her on her feet beside the bed instead of on it.

"I'd like to take my time with this, if it's all the same to you." He trailed a fingertip down her collarbone, over the lovely curve of breast the dress displayed. "You know, like unwrapping a present.”

"I can't say I mind that.”

She'd expected a rush-fast hands, hungry mouth-to match the reckless lust she'd seen in his gaze. When his hands took hers, linked fingers, and his lips lay silky on her lips, she remembered how ruthlessly he'd controlled his temper the day before.

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