“Please. You lost the checking-out-my-ass bet. Just admit it, Kate,” I teased, shooting her a grin.

She shook her head exaggeratedly, like she was holding in a smile. “Nope. I was not thinking of your butt.”

I scoffed, looking at my watch then at the couple. They were closer now, legs touching as they moved. They were easy to read. “Also, fifteen more seconds till the grind begins. That’s my bet, and I’m sticking to it. You going in?”

She laughed, a happy, buoyant sound that I dug. “It’ll take forty-five seconds.”

“That’s your prediction?”

She crossed her arms, like she was throwing down the gauntlet. “That’s my guarantee.”

I whistled my appreciation at her boldness. “You’re confident. How can you tell?”

“From watching them,” she said, a little coy, a little flirty.

She took a sip of her drink, then stared at the dance floor as the action unfolded. As if on cue, the woman in leather spun around, and the inked man yanked her to him, tugging her ass against his pelvis.

Forty-five seconds. On the dot.

“Impressive,” I said, with a low whistle.

“It’s my party trick,” she said, like she was divulging a secret. And maybe she was.

I marinated on that bit of intel as I knocked back more of my drink. “Makes sense, since you’re the Goddess of Observation.”

Her gaze swung to me, her eyes blazing with curiosity. “Is that what they call me?”

She seemed intrigued, maybe pleased that someone was seeing her, reading her. “That’s what you are,” I said, sensing a chance. “You like to watch. To see what everyone is up to. In fact, maybe we should bet again.”

She didn’t answer right away. She lifted her drink, took a swallow, and set it down. “But you need to pay up first, mister, since I won the last one with my forty-five second prediction.” A little sassy, she held out her hand like she was waiting for money.

I chided her, wagging a finger. “But we didn’t bet for anything. We need stakes if you’re trying to make me go broke, woman.”

She tilted her head and surveyed the dance floor, her eyes stopping in the direction of a tiny blonde in a white dress making eyes at a hipster in skinny jeans a few feet from her. “Them,” Kate said, with a subtle point of her finger. “I bet in one minute he’ll have an arm around her waist, his hand on her ass. If it takes longer, I lose.”

“And what are the stakes?”

“I have some ideas.” She licked her lips, and as she did, a flash of heat crossed her hazel eyes.

That flash of heat sure as hell sent my radar pinging. That heat wasn’t hard to read whatsoever. I moved closer. “Same here. And I know what we need to bet for.”

“Tell me,” she said, a little breathless.

I had an idea. A dirty, delicious idea. So much better than a spa weekend. “You want to know the stakes? You sure you’re ready for them?”

“I’m sure.” The two words were a challenge, and the way she returned my stare made it clear she wasn’t backing down.

I sure as hell wasn’t either.

Not tonight.

Not after my sister’s advice. Not after the guys’ comments. And definitely not after the earlier texts with Kate.

Flirty, innuendo-laced texts.

Texts that had made the radar listen in the first place.

Now it was shouting in my head.

And I knew what it was saying.

Opportunity.

I stared at Kate’s lush, full lips. I took my time, lifted my glass, downed the rest of the drink, then set it on the counter. Stepping into her space, I swept a lock of her hair off her shoulder.

She trembled ever so briefly then tried to play off her reaction, to brush some unseen lint off her shirt.

Her shirt was pristine.

I went for it.

Because this was the opportunity.

And I wanted to let her know I took her to bed in my dirty dreams.

Did she do the same with me in hers? I’d been dying to know for months.

Only one way to find out.

Honesty.

“One kiss.” It came out like a command.

Hell, maybe it was.

She stared at me, wide-eyed. She didn’t look down, didn’t back away. Simply held her chin high. “Are you truly betting a kiss?”

“Yes. I am.” I clicked the stopwatch on my phone, counting the seconds. The room thrummed with music, bodies pulsing together, lips pressed, hips locked. The music seemed to vibrate in me too. My bones hummed as I pictured tasting her mouth for the first time. “Does that surprise you?”

“I suppose it doesn’t,” she said softly, but still loud enough for me to hear.

I inched closer, catching a faint hint of her scent, like honey and almonds. “So, are you taking the bet, Williams?”

Her lips parted as she seemed to breathe in the night, the possibilities.

We had to be one of her possibilities.

Her tongue darted out briefly, a sign that maybe she was willing to take the bet.


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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