“This might sound odd, but the city feels like a friend.”

“How so?”

“It listens to me,” he said, and when I raised an eyebrow, he laughed.

“No, really,” he insisted. “Sometimes, if there’s traffic, I’ll ask it if it could just let me through a little faster. And it does.”

“That can’t be true,” I said, but I was grinning.

“Maybe I’m just magic,” he said with a roguish wink.

“Maybe you are. Lucky man.” I took a beat. “So you’re the owner who likes driving. I suppose at the risk of sounding obvious, does it ever get exhausting?”

He shrugged. “I like the peace. Helping people get to their destinations. And I’m lucky because I have good clients.”

“Like Trish?” I asked.

“Trish is great. She’s always got a plan. Or a scheme.”

I smiled a little shyly. “Like with setting us up?”

Daniel rubbed his chin, quiet at first. But his eyes sort of twinkled. Something was clearly on his mind.

“Truth be told, that was only partly Trish’s scheme,” he said, his voice confident, a little lower than before. “The other part was me.”

At first, I thought he was joking. But when I looked again, he was serious.

“It was? Your idea?”

He tapped his chest, owning it. “My idea. What can I say? There was one time when I drove you and Trish, and I couldn’t stop watching you. Usually, I’m able to tune out whatever’s happening behind me. But with you, I had to watch. I was compelled.”

I blushed at his words. “You’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “You’re lovely, Christine.”

And that tingle I felt earlier turned into a full-blown swoon.

“Thank you. I don’t know what to say, except thank you.”

“Thank you for saying yes. I was hooked on your laugh the very first time I heard it. You laughed like the world was there for the taking. And the way you could hold your own. You know what you want, and I’ll be honest with you, Christine.”

“Yes?” I asked, and I felt as if I were on the edge of my seat.

He stared at me, the scent of champagne lingering between us. It was going to my head in all the good ways.

He leveled me with a sexy stare. “I wanted you to want me.”

The limo slowed and then came to a halt, and Daniel smiled as he leaned back again.

His confidence shocked me.

Thrilled me, honestly.

I’d never had a man be so bold on a first date.

But Daniel said those words as if he were telling me about the weather.

But I couldn’t let him off that easily. What if this was a line? I was no college girl out for her first date with a real man. I was a grown woman, owner of a successful company. I’d been around the block a few times.

If he thought it would be that easy, he was wrong.

“I’m glad to hear that,” I said, a little playful, as the driver opened my door. “But I guess you’ll have to give me a reason to want you, then.”

And just then, something hit me. Something wonderful. I was getting my groove back. I was flirting. I was having fun.

Daniel laughed. “I fully intend to.”

Before I knew it, he’d come around to take my hand as I stepped out onto the sidewalk. I let his hand linger on mine as he walked me to the front doors of the Delano Las Vegas Hotel. The building shimmered and the palm trees around us swayed gently in the breeze.

But the shiver I felt wasn’t just from the night air.

It was from Daniel, still holding on to my hand as we walked into the hotel.

Right away, I could tell that the Delano was all about decadence in a way that only Vegas could do. We took the elevator all the way to the top to Rivea, a restaurant I’d heard about but had never had a special enough occasion to go to.

Now, I did.

As soon as we entered, my eyes drank in the beauty. The chandelier in the center looked like water frozen mid-air, though Daniel said it was actually handblown glass.

“Just wait until we get outside,” he told me, touching my lower back as he guided us inside. “It’s the best view in Vegas.”

“We’ll see about that,” I teased. “You’re setting some high standards tonight.”

The devilish grin made another appearance. “And I intend to meet all of them.”

And a shiver stole up my spine again.

What was it about this man that undid me so easily?

I would focus on dinner, I decided. Just because this was my first date back on the scene didn’t mean I needed to be so easily won over.

* * *

Lucky for me, dinner was delectable, and I was sure you couldn’t go wrong with burrata with heritage tomatoes, or mouth-watering lobster risotto. As I ate, he watched me like I was a painting he wanted to memorize. I wasn’t used to that, but I found I loved being on display for him. I craned my neck and tossed my hair over my shoulder.


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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