And when she left the bathroom, wearing a short, deep fuchsia tank dress and matching sandals, looking as if she'd walked off the cover of a magazine, Alex decided it was worth the wait. Even with the extra five minutes while she searched for her purse.

"You aren't going to shop, are you?"

He sounded like a kid asking if he had to get a shot, she thought, grabbing his hand and dragging him to the door. "Sure. Maybe we'll find something for Bridgett."

"Bridgett? Not the baby?"

She glanced back. "Of course, but to the best of my knowledge, it's the mother who does all the work, and while everyone is oohing and aahing over the newborn and congratulating the father, she needs to feel some of the attention. Keeps back the postpartum blues."

He was considering that when they stepped off the elevator. "Maybe something for Shannon, then, too? She might feel jealous." Stopping short, she met his gaze, her tender smile sinking like arrows into his heart.

"Oh, Alexander." Her fingertips whispered over his cheek. "I knew there was a warm, considerate man in there somewhere."

He slid his arm around her waist and whispered, "I thought that's what I was last night."

She ducked her head. "Stop teasing me about that."

Pulling her close, he pressed his lips near her ear and growled, "I can't help it. I keep seeing you, hearing you, feeling you. You pulse. Did you know that?" Madison gripped his shirtfront, her body throbbing to life, and she lifted her gaze. "And you make me feel as if I'm worthy of touching someone like you."

His uncertainty stole her breath, her heart, and Madison went up on her toes and kissed him. "You are, Alexander, or I wouldn't have let this go that far."

His throat tightened and he swallowed, wondering how he could feel pleased and scared at the same time.

* * *

He won a stuffed rabbit for her by pitching rings on bottlenecks, and she rewarded him with a wet, sloppy kiss that made him want to win the world for her. Then she upstaged him, shooting at wooden ducks, and won an honest-to-goodness rawhide wallet, complete with loop stitching. She had his initials burned into it, then insisted he must use it. Alex smiled every time he took it out to pay for another load of junk food.

He forgot everything around her; the line they drew between each other, the toy company, the lies they perpetrated. Before nightfall Angus called on the cellular to say it was a false alarm and Bridgett was home. Alex begged off for the night, and Angus simply chuckled and said he understood. Alex felt remorse for the lie hanging over them like a boom about to drop, but when Madison pulled him into the street dance, getting wild with the crowd, he dismissed his concern as he watched her wiggle and shake to the music.

They made out like teenagers on the Ferris wheel, then sat on the rocks near the water, talking till the sun turned red-gold. He laughed at her jokes, loved touching her and that she touched him. Something inside him came apart every time she did.

On the ride up in the elevator, he gathered her in his arms. "You're about the best time I've ever had, Madison."

She smiled, her eyes suspiciously bright. "Low threshold of excitement, huh?"

"Not anymore," he said, brushing her hair off her face and watching the motion. She enjoyed life, although he suspected she worked harder than she let on. He was tempted to call Katherine and bug her for details, but decided he wanted to discover them himself. And in that moment Alex realized just how much she meant to him. And in such a short time.

"Want dinner?"

"After all the junk food? No, thanks. How about a movie and maybe room service later?" She stepped into the room.

"You sure?"

"I want to shower and then be a slug. A real couch potato. You game?"

He closed them inside. "Yeah, I'm game." He backed her up against the door, and she wound her arms around him. "But you know what lying on a couch with you will do to me."

"I'm sure you can control yourself."

His hand swept low on her spine, pulling her into him. "But can you?"

She laughed and blushed, and he kissed her, a deep push into her mouth, into her body. His kiss grew harder, hungrier, and when her fingertips slid over the waist of his trousers, then brushed across the front, Alex thought he'd explode right there.

"I need to shower," she said, pulling away as she slipped into the bathroom.

She could feel him on the other side, hear him mutter to himself before he walked away. She quickly stripped and stepped into a hot shower. She shampooed her hair and washed, the strong pricking streams of water beating against her breasts, heightening the sensitivity of her skin. Madison wished he would join her in the shower now. The thought of it nearly drove her mad with desire, and she left the shower, slipping into the complementary terry-cloth robe and toweling her hair dry.