“Yes,” I whisper back to him, my skin tingling with the prospect of what I almost let him do.

“Dirty girl,” he says with appreciation in his eyes. “But even I have my limits on what I’ll do in public. Besides, you’re too much of a screamer. We would have never gotten away with it.”

He’s so right. It would have been stupid, but I still cherish that feel of his hand on my leg knowing he was thinking of me in that way.

The salads are removed efficiently after we finish. Within moments, the main course is served—Kobe beef tenderloin and lobster tails—and private talk resumes around the table. Not sure this is really the norm, but Jerico is not engaging anyone, content to talk to me as we eat.

“So… tomorrow is pancake day, huh?” he asks as he cuts into his steak.

I nod as I do the same. “I’m trying to establish routines… habits with Corinne. Things she can count on. Sunday is always pancake day.”

“You think her mom is going to come back?” Jerico asks, stilling his utensils to look at me.

I stop cutting my steak. “I know this sounds awful, but at this point… I hope not. She’s so inconsistent and unpredictable. I don’t think Corinne can handle her coming back and going away again. My mom and I are giving her a stable home. With her illness and recovery, that’s the most important thing.”

“And pancakes,” Jerico adds with a smile as he goes back to his meal.

“God, she loves pancakes,” I say with a laugh and slice off a small piece of steak. “She’d eat them every meal, every day.”

Jerico nods, chewing on a piece of steak. I take the opportunity to do the same and almost moan in pleasure over how tender it is. I can’t afford steak at all, much less steak like this.

“What’s the one thing you would eat every day for every meal if you could?” Jerico asks, and I’m not at all surprised by what seems like an inane question, but really… we ask each other this kind of stuff all the time.

“This steak,” I say as I cut into another piece. That gets me a grin from Jerico. “But seriously… I think gummy bears. I’m addicted to them.”

Jerico grimaces, and I may have ruined his delicious dinner. I eat another piece of steak and make a move on my lobster tail as I ask, “What about you? What would be your one thing?”

“Easy question,” he says with the same confidence and authority by which he commands me when we’re naked. “Red velvet cake.

It’s odd we’re eating the finest meal I’ve ever had and yet we’re talking about pancakes and red velvet cake, both of which are like little luxuries to me since I try to watch carbs and sweets. It’s why I make a stab at some asparagus and ignore the baked potato.

Our conversation continues, light and steady, not too personal but not inconsequential either like talking about the weather. As the meal winds down, an orchestra starts playing music. By the time the desserts are cleared—and okay, I tried some of the chocolate mousse—people were hitting the dance floor or roaming around the auction tables again.

Jerico jumps in on a conversation beside him, but when they start talking about golf, I tune them out. Instead, I turn slightly in my chair and watch the dancers, marveling at the gorgeous designer gowns and jewelry of the other women. No doubt, I’m not wearing as much in jewels or clothing, but as I look around at the men in the room, there’s a little bit of pride within me knowing I’m here with the hottest man. I’ve seen several women appraising him openly, and I wonder if any of them have been with him at the club.

A warm hand squeezes my shoulder, and Jerico leans toward me. “Want to dance?”

“You dance?” I ask with slight disbelief. I mean, this guy rescues kidnap victims and blows up shit. Oh, and he has kinky sex. I didn’t peg him as a ballroom dancer.

“I can get by,” he says with a smirk as he stands from his chair and holds his hand out to me.

When I take it, he pulls me up and immediately into him so our bodies are touching. “Well, I haven’t been to a formal dance since prom in high school, although I’m sure I could probably still pull off the Macarena.”

Jerico laughs and leans down for a spontaneous and affectionate kiss that’s over before it begins, and then he’s tugging me toward the gleaming parquet floor. I hope I can manage to handle it in my high heels.

When he reaches the center, Jerico pulls me into his arms with such smoothness it seems as if no effort was expended on his part. He leads and I follow. It turns out that I can apparently dance, even though I’ll give the credit to him.

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