She was aroused.

As if he didn’t quite believe her claim, a slow smile of entertainment lifted his lips. “Let’s put it this way,” he said as his thumb continued to stroke her skin. “The first time we met, you performed a provocative dance to a hip-hop song on the courthouse lawn. The second time we met, you were behind bars.” He pursed his lips, his eyes growing dark. “So it’s safe to say you haven’t exactly been giving off many virginal vibes.”

She held his heated gaze, refusing to acknowledge the heady feel of his thumb against her wrist, the wild longing to return the caress. But the slight part of her mouth as she fought for air must have given her away.

Because his words came out rough. “And you’re definitely not giving off virginal vibes now.”

His gaze briefly moved down to the rapid rise and fall of her breasts, and then back to her face, gray eyes radiating an intensity that had had her on edge from the moment they’d met. She could read everything. The hesitation. The hint of wariness. But, most important, the frank desire. And then his gaze settled on her lips, weakening her resolve not to touch him.

The heat from the hand that cupped her arm spread to every corner of her body, concentrating in her most sensitized parts. Leaving her feeling soft. Compliant. And damp.

Melting her resolve to thank him and bolt, before she did something stupid.

“I can see you’re thinking about kissing me—” Jax said, the words breaking at a slight catch in her voice. “But I know you well enough by now to realize you won’t go through with it.”

“What makes you think I won’t?” he said.

“Because you’re far too disciplined to let your lust run away with your emotions.”

Although the heat in his eyes seared her to the soul, he said, “Agreed.”

The flash of disappointment slashed deep. “Too bad.”

And while his agreement wasn’t a surprise, that didn’t make the words any easier to hear. She had wants. Needs. Like the overwhelming desire to drive a man to distraction, despite the marks on her body, the visual reminders of her past. The hope that someone, someday, would lose his head over Jacqueline Lee, scars and all. Instituting a temporary embargo on men hadn’t been easy, even after Jack’s defection. But she’d never met anyone quite like Blake.

And if making love to him out, then she at least deserved a kiss.

Finally abandoning the vow to keep her hands to herself—a hopeless goal, in retrospect—she reached up with her free arm and clutched his shirt, knuckles pressed against his hard chest. Blake allowed her to pull him closer. Which was a good thing, because with their height difference, without that little bit of cooperation she’d never reach his mouth.

And if one kiss was all she was gonna get, then she intended to make damn sure it was a good one....

* * *

The attraction that had slammed into him the day they’d met, the fierce need that repeatedly brought him to his figurative knees, returned with a vigor that stunned Blake with its intensity. The moment Jax’s hand had landed on his chest, time had contracted, becoming more vivid and defined, his world reduced to the sensory input of the beautiful woman. He was mesmerized by her wild tawny hair and the seductive hazel eyes. Captivated by the insistent hand against his chest and the soft skin of her arm beneath his fingers.

Troubled by the raised scars beneath his thumb.

Heart thumping, he absently traced the well-healed marks, fighting his overworked libido as his mind furiously grappled with the physical proof that, at one time, Jax hadn’t been the strong, to-hell-with-the-world woman that stood before him now. In light of her history, he wasn’t surprised her adolescent years had been fraught with the occasional destructive behavior. But it was a true testament to her amazing resilience that the self-harming had been limited to the two scars—the rest of her arms and legs were silky smooth and scar-free. No wonder she cultivated a carpe diem attitude and longed to feel like a virgin again, untouched. Innocent. And free from the weight of her past. He’d never met such a complicated woman.

And those complexities made her all that more attractive.

Heat coursed through his body as her gaze radiated a come-hither look mixed with an emotional honesty that had enchanted him from the moment they’d met. Knowing his arguments were growing weaker by the minute, he mentally listed them anyway. She wasn’t his type. She didn’t fit with his life, because, between the Menendez case and his sister, life was too full already. And Jax was pure trouble, the hellion on heels a walking, talking disaster on the move. Which didn’t mean he couldn’t sleep with her, but it absolutely meant that he shouldn’t.

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