“Is this a friendly game or a game of stakes?” he says.
I let myself smile. “I’m fine with making it interesting.”
“Me too. But what are the stakes?”
I set my beer on the table’s edge and approach him. Standing next to him, he towers over me, but I don’t back down. “I want you to release my father from his loan.”
His laughter fills the room, drawing attention to us yet again. “That is a steep bet,” he says. “And it’s worth a lot.”
I don’t say anything, because I know it’s worth a lot. I don’t have anything to offer him, and there’s no way in hell he will say yes, but I have to try. I have papers written up just in case he’s drunk enough to fall for it. I’m hoping his stupid pride will be enough to seal the deal.
I’m fully expecting him to say no, but to my shock, he doesn’t. Thomas takes a step back, lifting his beer to his mouth. He finishes what’s left of it in one long gulp, and I can’t help watching the way his throat moves as he swallows.
He places the bottle back on the table and grabs his own cue. And then he’s in front of me. “If those are going to be the stakes,” he says softly, “I want something.”
I can’t speak, my mouth is suddenly dry. I’m staring at his shirt, noticing the sheen of the material, trying to figure out what’s happening in my mind, my body. I can smell the spicy scent of his cologne, and the fact that he’s so close makes my skin tingle. But I shouldn’t want this. I shouldn’t even think about the idea of this. What we had ended. It’s better to leave it alone.
Thomas’s hand brushes my arm, and the goosebumps ripple across my entire body. I’m glad that I wore a thick enough bra to keep him from seeing that my nipples are suddenly hard. And now my entire focus is on his hand, tracing up my arm and up my shoulder and to my neck. His fingers curl around the back of it and it’s both intimate and strong. I fight back the shiver of anticipation. His thumb brushes my skin, guiding my chin up until I’m looking him in the eyes. Those shockingly blue eyes, and the heat I feel there scares me. Thrills me.
“I want you,” he says.
“Me.” I knew as soon as he touched me that he was going to say it, but it still stuns me to hear it out loud.
“If I win, I want to take you home with me. One night.”
I swallow. “One night with you.”
“One night. To finish what we started. That, or we lower the stakes.”
There it is. Finally, an acknowledgement of it. A dark thrill runs across my skin at the thought of spending the night with him. My body is begging for it and he’s barely touching me. I recognize that he’s trying to give me an out, by letting me lower the stakes, and if I was smart, I’d probably take it. But I have a chance to get my family out of this situation in one swoop, and trading a night of sex with a man my body is already desperate to fuck is a small price to pay.
Reaching to my side, I grab the chalk and rub it on the end of my cue. I never look away from his eyes. “You’re going down. By the end of the game, I’m going to have you on your knees begging for mercy.”
He chuckles darkly. “Oh, I think you’ll be the one on your knees by the end of the night.”
I shouldn’t like the thought of that, but I do. Heat coils down through my gut, and I’m lost in the imagery for a moment. Darkness and moonlight and him looming over me, hands in my hair, holding the back of my head as I suck him off. But it’s never going to happen. Because I’m going to win—I need to win.
“It’s a deal,” I say.
I’ve always loved pool. I’m not half bad at it. Leaning over the table to break, I’m well aware that Thomas is staring at my ass. And I don’t mind. It’s been a long time since someone has looked at me like that, and it makes me feel sexy.
I break the triangle of balls and a solid colored ball sinks into a corner pocket. But I miss the next shot, and Thomas pushes off the wall with a smirk. He takes off his suit jacket, and I swear watching him shrug out of it is an erotic experience. “So now’s the time I get to impress you with how well I use my stick?”
“If you say so,” I laugh. He brushes past me, close enough that we touch even though there’s plenty of room for him to pass. He stretches out over the table, and I admire how the tight cut of his suit shows off his ass. Two can play the ogling game.