“But you have. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly, though. This is the South after all. So as long as you’re not William Tecumseh Sherman back from the dead, we’ll still serve you tea and offer you another helping of dessert. Speaking of which, did you try my mama’s deep-dish apple pie?”

“No. Is that a real change of subject or are you trying to poison me?”

“That’s me, Company Man. I’m the Wicked Queen.”

Her sly smile gave the throwaway phrase a filthy weight that hung in the air between us.

“If you’re going to insist on calling me by that nickname, I guess I’ll call you Wicked Queen in return,” I said.

“Your Majesty will do just fine,” she said.

“I think I’ll pass on the pie, Your Majesty,” I joked. “Because I already ate a heaping plate of, I think, everything. It was very good. And kind of everyone to do this. I’ve seen some factory people here that I should go speak to. I don’t want them to feel that I’m avoiding them or that a decision has already been made,” I said. “If you’ll excuse me.”

“Yes, of course,” she said.

In a few minutes’ time, a band started to play. People shuffled onto the floor, old married couples, a few teenagers with braces and Save the Turtles t-shirts on. Some twangy country song played, and instead of wincing as I usually would at the cheesy music, I searched Maggie out. I wasn’t just there for the potluck and to build goodwill for Hadley. It seemed more and more like I was here for Maggie Carson.

I made my way to her, stood at her elbow while she finished talking. I didn’t even say anything. The air between us was thick with promise, with unspoken lust and something more. So when I reached down and took her hand as casually as she’d taken my arm earlier, the sparks shouldn’t have surprised me. It was a raw jolt of energy passing between us, not the kind of shock you get from scuffing across the carpet and touching the doorknob, but a deep sizzle of fiery connection that set my nerves on edge and made me want her mouth all over me. In the length of time I took for me to take her hand in mine and to look her in the eyes with my unspoken request, I had blinked my eyes twice. Both times in the space between heartbeats I had seen a vision of myself with my head between her legs, the two of us in a car, her legs splayed, thighs parted around my face as my hungry mouth worked her. I got so hard at the thought that it was difficult to walk normally as we made our way onto the makeshift dance floor.

The music slid into a slow song, and the floor grew crowded. I slid my arm around her waist. Her fingers curved behind my neck. I held her left hand in my right, her fingers small in my palm. Some ancient Garth Brooks song piped through the static-rattled amp. Just like that, I was holding her. When she looked up into my eyes, her long eyelashes fluttered as she looked down and away a little shyly. The same brash woman from the registration desk, the woman whose smart mouth and gorgeous body had kept me hard for damn near a full day was bashful in my arms. That felt like a spike of electricity in my blood. I wondered what else she might do, what other moods struck her. Brazen, sassy, shy, serious—I wanted every color of her, every mood, every expression.

Not electricity in my blood, on second thought. She was more like heroin, sharp and dizzying and making me want more.

“Maggie,” I said.

“Mm-hmm?” she said, looking back up at me.

“I like dancing with you,” I said.

She grinned, “Me, too. I mean, you’re the enemy obviously. But enemies can dance can’t they?”

“Oh, I’d say enemies could do a lot of things. I’m sure you’ve heard about keeping your enemies closer.”

“I have. Exactly how close are you suggesting?” she said, a teasing purr in her voice that went straight to my cock.

I cleared my throat, “That depends on how close you’re interested in being.”

Just then, the song ended, and some loud Skynard cover started to blast. We stepped away from each other, nearly staggering. The spell was broken, that sultry hush between us when we’d danced.

Greedy, I wanted to pull her back into my arms, maybe bend her head back over my arm while I kissed her thoroughly, plundering that pretty mouth with my tongue. I shoved my hands in my pockets, feeling irritable and keyed up. Just that taste of her in my arms, not even a kiss—it had been intoxicating.

“You know, Company Man,” she said ruefully, “This isn’t going to turn out like a Hallmark movie.”


Tags: Natasha L. Black Romance
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