“Before your accident. You said you had news?”
The conversation in the garden felt like a lifetime ago. “Right.” Clearing her throat, she forced herself to sound businesslike. “I overheard Cinco and Felicity.” She filled him in on the details.
He made a noncommittal noise. “We knew he was nosing around Ruby Hawk.”
“But this sounded personal,” she said. “He thinks the acquisition is in trouble because Stavros has dirt on you.”
“He’s not wrong.” Luke shrugged. “Nestor is refusing to close the deal until I meet his conditions. But I don’t hire my employees based on marital status. If that’s the tree Jackson wants to bark up, he’ll be hoarse.”
She released her breath. “So, what’s the next step?”
His gaze traveled to the top of her head. “Take down your ponytail.”
Her uninjured hand flew up to protect her hair. “What? Why?”
He leaned toward her, filling the space between them until only a handbreadth remained. “To see if you have any lumps resulting from hitting your head.”
She searched his gaze. “I didn’t hit my head.”
“You were stunned after the accident so you might not be aware if you did or not. Let me check.” His lips pressed together in a firm line.
“I’m capable of seeking my own medical attention,” she warned.
“I know you’re very capable,” he said with a rueful smile. He leaned even closer. “Humor me. Please.” His low rumble sent a cascade of goose bumps down her spine.
Perhaps he should check. The room was spinning again. “Fine,” she agreed with an exhaled breath. Before she could finish speaking, his right hand reached behind her and removed the elastic holding her hair. Her curls tumbled around her face and bounced off her shoulders.
Intellectually, having her hair down should make her feel more covered up, hidden. Instead, it was as if he had stripped her of her armor, leaving her bare to his knowing gaze. She shivered.
His fingers combed through her hair, tracing small circles on her scalp. He was so close she could see the faint shadow of whiskers making their presence known along the strong line of his jaw, and the dusting of crisp black hairs revealed by the open throat of his shirt. Delicious awareness pricked to life. She leaned into his hands as if she were a cat.
He slowed and then stopped his movements, his fingers still tangled in her hair. “No lumps.” His eyes were indigo dark, and the coiled tension she could sense reminded her again of a tiger, ready to pounce on its prey.
She very much wanted to be devoured. All she had to do was lean forward, just an inch, and her mouth would be on his.
“Was that the outcome you desired?” Somehow, she was able to form words.
“It was one,” he growled.
“There was another?”
His gaze flared with a primal hunger, and his grasp tightened on her curls. “Only if you desire it, as well.”
The air crackled with electricity. She could almost see golden sparks leaping between them, illuminating the thread of attraction that wove around them. She lifted her hand to cover his, encircling his wrist. Under her touch, his pulse beat in time with hers.
She should thank him for the medical attention, spring to her feet, find her phone and summon a ridesharing service to take her home. That’s what the old Danica would do. The one who worked long hours for Johanna, expecting a promotion that never came. The one who would have listened to Luke’s explanation of how to maximize her roulette bets.
Or she could go all in. Risk everything. The Danica who piled all her chips on one number and waited for the ball to drop. The Danica who kissed Luke Dallas and was about to kiss him again.
Just one night. Not a relationship. It could never be a relationship. She knew where she stood with him. So, what would be the harm of giving in to the anticipation curling in her stomach, the throbbing emptiness between her legs demanding to be filled?
She took a deep breath. Her lips were dry, and she wet them with her tongue. His gaze followed its path. His blue eyes were almost black now. She closed the tiny gap between them and pressed her mouth against his.
* * *
Luke’s history with women was long and varied. He liked sex, and the women he dated indicated they enjoyed having sex with him. But the players knew the cards on the table, making the stakes for all low. He never got involved unless the other party agreed to mutually assured pleasure and fun, nothing more. Still, there were plenty of women who were happy to share his bed on those terms.