Shoulders relaxed, one hand on the steering wheel, he maneuvered confidently through the snow-swept streets. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. Green and blue lights from the dashboard cast his face in profile, outlining his straight nose, deep-set eyes, chiseled jaw. Melted snow glinted on his hair and coat like tiny beads of blue and green.
His arm draped over the armrest between them, hand relaxed at the wrist, elbow slanted toward her. One sharp turn and his palm would land in her lap. Which wouldn’t be so bad…
She bit her lip, dropping her gaze to the floor mat where the snow from her boots started to puddle. She wished she didn’t know how good his strong hands felt coasting over her bare skin, settling at the base of her spine as she arched to meet his need.
But who was she kidding? She’d been a willing participant. They both recognized what was on each other’s minds. Then, and now.
Seeing him in the dim light, sinfully hot, so close she smelled the woodsy-pine scent of him…any woman’s mind would wander into forbidden territory. His lips held a trace of a smile as he stared straight ahead. If he could read her thoughts, he might dial up the seduction. She doubted she could withstand the heat without them both getting burned. Tucking her elbows close to her body, she folded her gloved hands in her lap and even crossed her legs away from him.
The man knew how to get under a woman’s skin. And make her long to be in his bed.
“You cold?” He notched up the dual-control heating.
He squinted at his GPS screen. “It says I’m supposed to turn right. I don’t remember condos or townhouses around here. This isn’t the greatest neighborhood.”
“Home sweet home.”
She crossed her arms. “The directions are right. Just follow them.”
In the few minutes his navigation offered her, she glanced around his vehicle and noticed several Snickers candy wrappers in his lower center console, where she would’ve expected a hydrating athletic drink to sit awaiting him. At the sight, she uncrossed her legs. Maybe he was just a typical guy, not the intimidating CEO she’d expected when their relationship turned from personal to professional.
By the time he navigated into her building parking lot, her lower lip was raw from gnawing. At least the complex looked less dismal under the cover of darkness. Sort of. She wished her neighbor’s lamp didn’t spotlight his cockeyed broken blinds and the plant squashed against the slats.
Logan peered up at the rent-by-the-month units. “You live here.”
She fumbled with her purse. “It’s not that bad.”
“I’m calling my Realtor tomorrow.”
“That’s not necessary—”
“Trust me, it is.”
She narrowed her eyes. She didn’t like his bossy tone.
He stepped out of his Escalade, made it to the passenger side and opened the door as she reached for the handle. She blinked. The man could move .
“I can open my own door.” Prickly defiance edged her tone.
“I was raised on a military base in Pensacola, Florida,” he replied. “I also came from a long line of southern gentlemen. Manners aren’t optional.” He held out his hand. She reluctantly took it as he helped her down.
He didn’t let go when her feet touched the icy pavement. She tried to tug away, but his grasp was firm, warm. He brushed his thumb over the points of her knuckles before slowly releasing her. Despite her high-heeled boots, Logan stood a foot taller and easily reached over her shoulder to shut the passenger door. Their mouths were inches apart.
Their breath clouded and mingled in the crisp night. White flakes fell around them as if they stood in a snow globe, a frozen moment where time and complexity didn’t exist.
Heat cascaded through her. Her abdomen tightened with desire.
God help her, if he kissed her right now…
She just might let him.
A barking dog broke the dream-like spell. Logan’s eyes sparkled with hunger, but he took a step back and yanked up his collar, glancing at the building. “Which one’s yours?”
“Third floor, center unit.” Allison gripped her keys. “I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
He tipped his head. “What kind of a gentleman would I be if I didn’t walk a lady to her door?”
“That’s not necess—” She stopped when she saw the stubborn set of his jaw. “Oh, all right.”
The man was in serious need of lessons in compromise. Not that she was much better at it. They were both too headstrong for their own good and each other.
Butterflies made swan dives in her stomach as she led him up the open stairwell. He followed at her heels to the third-floor exterior walkway. The closer they came to her door, the more uncomfortable she grew. She wasn’t sure about having him here. Disrupting her safe, secluded sanctuary. Such as it was.
She’d just make him wait outside. In the cold. And snow. Under the fluorescent-orange porch light that doubled as a bug graveyard.
Charming . She gave a mental shrug. He was the one who’d insisted on walking her to her door. His discomfort wasn’t her problem.
Holding up her tangle of keys, she flipped through them. Logan stood behind her, the long lapels of his black wool coat brushing her back. His breath wafted down her neck, seeping between the buttons of her jacket. She fought the urge to lean back, let his strong arms come around her.
Piercing beeps signaled the fifteen-second delay on her alarm. She rushed to the dual panels on the wall, quickly entering the codes. Lights flashed from red to green. She turned around, and bumped into Logan’s chest. “Hey, you’re supposed to wait outside.”
Instead of complying, he investigated the devices. “A lot of security for a little place.” He scanned the labels bearing the Stone Security brand and model numbers. “A lot of money, too.”
“A girl can never be too safe.” She ignored his inquisitive stare. Spreading her arms to encompass her paltry collection of furniture—a drop-leaf table, a desk, a bookshelf, a TV that delivered three stations on a good day, a faded plaid couch that sagged in the middle, and landlord-beige walls. “I’d say make yourself comfortable, but you’re used to more impressive surroundings.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be fast.”
Dashing to the apartment’s single bedroom, she riffled through her wardrobe. How long had it been since she’d attended a formal function? She had the usual skirt suits for conferences and demos, and basic monochromic outfits for workdays. None of it up to par for tonight’s gala. She hauled out five outfits and promptly discarded them. Finally, at the back of her closet, she found the quintessential little black dress. She threw it on.