"Thank you. We manhunters try real hard to lure our prey," she said sweetly, before turning to help serve someone sliced meat.
Alex sighed, and supposed he deserved that, yet realized she wasn't going to give him the chance to apologize. He grabbed a plate, filled it and went off with Liz to eat. The food was incredibly good, and Alex almost wished it weren't. The party was flawless, and he fielded compliments all evening, solidifying his knowledge that he'd made the right choice. He just wished the woman hadn't gotten under his skin.
A half hour later the music changed, growing livelier, and he recognized the Drifters, the Spinners and the Beach Boys in the mix. He stepped out onto the patio to see Anna Marsh and several others dancing as Madison had the servants move the tables aside.
"Does anyone know how to do the shag?" Anna asked.
Madison opened her mouth, then snapped it shut.
Anna noticed. "Oh, you do, Madison, don't you?"
She glanced at Alex, silently asking permission. He nodded, sipping his drink and watched as she took Kyle's hand and instructed him. She was good, getting into the music, yet she didn't linger with Kyle, turning to old man Reynolds and teaching him. The perfect hostess. Anna partnered herself with another guest and soon nearly everyone was on the patio. Madison danced, her sweet behind rocking as she took them through the steps.
The men flirted with her, Kyle asking for a dance over and over, and Alex felt his jaw tighten as she obliged. Liz grabbed his hand to pull him into it, and he hastily set his drink aside and joined. One song rolled after another, and they switched partners. Alex danced with Anna, then found himself in front of Madison.
She started toward the nearest table filled with discarded glasses, but he caught her hand.
She met his gaze. "Surely you don't mean—"
"Why not? Scared?"
Her look said he was a fool for asking. "I'm hired to work, not party till the cows come home."
"And I pay the bills," he countered, stepping closer to slide his arm around her waist and pull her into the dance.
"Not for this, you don't."
He held her gaze, feeling several pairs of eyes watching them, including Liz's. "It's just a dance."
"Do you always use the advantage for your own means?"
Her expression turned sweet, yet he saw the fury lying beneath. "Always." The music was soft and slow, and he nudged her closer.
Her brows shot up. "Mr. Donahue."
"Yes, Miss Holt?" God, she smelled good.
"That's too close."
"All depends on the perspective. And they—" he inclined his head to the guests "—don't matter right now. You're aware I paged you."
"I know. Four times."
"You wanted to humble me."
"Saintly creature though I am, miracles are not my specialty."
Over her head, he scanned his home, his guests. "I would say they were." He looked down at her. "I'm sorry."
She looked up. "Apology accepted."
He frowned. "Doesn't sound like it."
She batted her lashes dramatically. "Why, sah, I'm most grateful and thank you evah so much for concernin' yourself with little ol' me." He grinned, and her expression returned to normal, though hinting sarcasm. "You were acting like a complete jerk, you know."
God, he liked her frankness. "Yes, I was."
"That's one for the manhunters."
His lips flattened in a thin line. "I wasn't aware we were at battle."
Madison sighed, mentally chastising herself. He'd apologized, and antagonizing him wasn't going to win her brownie points if she needed a reference. "The South has surrendered, sir. The white flag is up."
He eyed her for a second. "Then tell me, Miss Holt, what the heck does poe-dunk mean?"
"Diddly-squat … nothing. My daddy says it a lot." She responded, smiling. "How come you didn't know? You're from the South."
He shook his head. "I moved here when I expanded my company ten years ago. I was born and raised in Ohio."
Her brows rose. "A Yankee." This was news to her, especially since he had a rather nice drawl.
He grinned, and her stomach flipped end over end. "I'm just chalking up the black marks, huh?"
"I'd give a tally, but the white flag still flies," she reminded him with a smile.
Nodding acknowledgement, Alex sashayed them across the floor, her hand small and warm in his, her body radiating a heat that had nothing to do with the humid Savannah night. She kept a respectable distance between them, yet her hand on his shoulder shifted every now and then, fingertips smoothing the fabric. It soothed, and he simply stared, enjoying the sensation.
"You don't like me very much, do you?" he said.