“I suppose it would be a bad idea, then, for me to tell you that if we dated, I’d expect you to cook all the meals and do all the cleaning?”
He’s so straight-faced as he says it that I grab my napkin, ball it up, and toss it at him. He catches it easily as I answer him, “And just for that, you’re in charge of all chores if we date.”
“Fine, I accept. But only if I get to pick the restaurants we go to.”
“You’re so controlling in our fake-dating world. Where would you take me?”
He stares up at the ceiling as if deep in thought, then his eyes meet mine. “Besides all the finest taquerias and coolest French fry establishments, I’d take you to karaoke and comedy clubs and arcades. But I’d also go shopping with you, if that was what you wanted. And I wouldn’t complain or sit on my phone the whole time. I’d dutifully check out every outfit, and I’d enjoy every second of it.”
The zip returns, and it’s multiplied. It’s quadrupled. It’s a supersonic burst of delight winging through me. “This is not fair. You’re making it too fun to fake-date you.”
“It would be fun,” he says, and the air goes quiet and still.
Is he testing the waters? Is he trying to say we should truly put ourselves out there? I don’t know that we’re going there, but I know I want to dip a toe in.
“It would be fun. It’s always been fun with you,” I say.
He smiles back at me, his sea-green eyes sparkling, reminding me of a secluded island cove. I don’t seem able to break the gaze, nor does he, and now it’s more intense, stealing my breath away. He looks at me as if he wants to know me, wants to see inside me.
It’s exhilarating, but so damn risky, so I tap the brakes. “The only issue with putting ourselves out there is that we work together.”
He nods, a bit solemnly. “It’s true. That makes everything risky.”
“And then there are those pesky trust issues. I know I sound like I’m making light of them, but they’re weighty.”
He nods. “Yeah, they can be. For both of us, I presume. Do you think you’ll always have your concerns?”
I shrug, a little sad. “I hope not. What about you?”
“I probably should let go of them, but I don’t have the time to focus on that right now. Work has to come first. Know what I mean?”
His hand slinks closer to me. “But if we dated, I’d try to. If we dated, I’d just want to have fun, since I know that’s what you want.”
Oh God. What I want now is him. I want him to shove that plate of swoon-worthy quesadillas aside and make me swoon, not just with words, but with his hands and tongue.
“That’s what I want. Just something light and easy,” I whisper.
“I could do light and easy, if we dated,” he says, scooting closer, his thigh now touching mine. I die from pleasure, every single molecule in my body turning liquid. I don’t want to ride the brakes any longer.
“I could do the same,” I say, and I’m aflame, lit bright from longing.
He gazes at me, his voice low and husky. “You know what I’d do next in this scenario?”
“Tell me.” I wait on the edge of desire for his answer.
I could say I don’t know what comes over me. But that’d be a lie. It’d be a weak-ass cop-out too. I do know what comes over me.
Desire. Lust. Want.
Sometimes it’s that simple.
We’re teasing and toying, playing at the edge of a game. But I’m a gamer, and I know sometimes you have to go for it. You jump off the cliff, you run into gunfire, you rocket-launch into the stars.
You don’t know what’s on the other side. You don’t know if you’ll make it to the next level or die a brutal, pixelated death.
You know the risks, and you do it anyway.
I’ve wanted to touch her since I met her. That’s how attraction works. I knew it in seconds that day in the store, and I’ve wanted her more and more every time we’ve connected. Every time I see her, talk to her, text her.
I can feel the heat from her body. I can smell that strawberry shampoo that drives me wild. “I’d run my hands through all this luscious hair,” I whisper.
Her breath hitches.
My skin sizzles.
Lust grabs hold of me. I thread my fingers through the silky waterfall of chestnut strands, and she’s a cat, arching her back, purring under my touch. This woman. My God, I want to be the one to show her what it’s like to be wanted.
“Don’t stop,” she murmurs.
It’s a plea, and there’s a warm buzzing sensation taking over my body. Wait. It’s way more than warm. Make that white-hot. “And if we dated,” I say as my fingertips trail down her neck and she trembles against my touch, “our first kiss would surprise both of us.”