“Will you go out with me?” he said suddenly.

“What?”

“Dinner tonight. Whatever time you name. We can go someplace in the next town. I don’t want people here being mad at you because of me. But I’m not considerate enough to just leave you alone. I still want to have dinner with you.”

“I’d like that,” I said, though I knew I probably shouldn’t.

10

Jeremiah

I picked her up at her house. A silky skirt swirled around her knees as she got in my car. She had on red lipstick I wanted to kiss right off, smearing it over both of our faces.

“You look lovely,” I said.

“Thank you,” she said almost demurely.

“I want to clear the air here. It’s bothered me since we went for a drink and I propositioned you. I’m concerned that I insulted you. I meant no offense,” I said diffidently.

“You didn’t. I just couldn’t take you up on it. So the situation itself was uncomfortable.”

“I apologize,” I said.

“Please don’t. It’s fine,” she said.

I saw her relax a little, and I reached for her hand and held it.

“I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with you, if that helps,” I said.

“It does,” she looked at me gravely, not joking.

“Good. Does that make two of us?”

“It does,” she said again.

“Then I’ll confess something else. Part of the reason I’m taking you out of town for dinner is because I don’t want you to have to be seen consorting with the enemy by the pro-factory people in town. The other reason is that I want privacy for us. I don’t want to run into your friends and relatives. I’m sure they’re nice people, but they’re not invited.”

“Oh really. Our conversation won’t be suitable for my grandma then?”

“Definitely not,” I said.

“Tell me more.”

“I can’t get you off my mind,” I said, not even meaning to. She was in my rental car again, smelling of vanilla and that scent was like truth serum to me or something.

“It’s complicated,” she said.

“It is. I’m your enemy, here to be the Grinch that stole the economy or whatever. We shouldn’t even know each other’s names. You should be a nameless annoyed citizen to me. Not Maggie with the great laugh who built a successful business on her own, and who lives in an adorable house with two chimneys and has at least four different colors of Chucks to wear to work, and who makes a killer potato casserole. You’re remarkable. I couldn’t ignore you even if my body would let me. You have to know by now that I want you.”

“I suspected,” she said teasingly, “just as I’m sure you suspected that I want you.”

“So we agree there’s an attraction, a stronger than normal attraction here. The chemistry is scorching. But we’re not going to act on it. It’s too complicated, plus I’m only in town for a couple of weeks. As an afterthought, we’re mortal enemies facing off over the fate of an underperforming local chicken processing plant. So that’s three strikes against us.”

“I think that’s two. Because ‘it’s complicated’ includes the mortal enemies thing.”

“Only two strikes? So we should go for it?” I joked.

“Hardly. But we can still get to know each other, spend time together, torture ourselves. And touch each other unnecessarily a whole lot.”

“That’s a clearer plan than most people have in a long-term relationship.”

“Yep. I’m Cosmo-ready. I had the DTR.”

“What?”

“The talk where we Define the Relationship. We laid out our expectations. We both know we’re in this to yearn with nearly intolerable lust for a few dates before you leave.”

“And we’re not sleeping together.”

“Exactly.”

“This is the strangest relationship ever.”

“That’s because it isn’t one. We just enjoy each other’s company too much to stay away, even though we’re both frustrated about it.”

“That’s true,” I said as I pulled into a parking place. “We have a reservation.”

“I’ve never been here. My parents came here on their twenty-fifth anniversary a few years ago. It’s really fancy,” she said.

“Glad I could impress you,” I said wryly.

Then I went around and opened her door. As she stepped out, she walked right into my arms.

“When we defined the relationship, you said there’d be unnecessary touching,” I said lightly, taking her in my arms, “but you didn’t mention the necessary kissing.”

“I have on red lipstick. It’s supposed to keep us from kissing,” she protested.

“It’s a failure then,” I said, my mouth covering hers.

Her hair spilled into my hand as I palmed her head, nipped at her lips and then parted them, kissing her so intensely that I felt a shudder rip through my body when her tongue touched mine. It was a searing shiver of yes and now and more as I took her mouth, claimed her with every stroke of my tongue. She clung to my back so hard that I could almost feel her nails digging into my bare skin the way they would if I had her on her back on my bed, driving my rigid cock into her. She bit my lip, grazing it with her tongue, and I made a sound in the back of my throat that was almost a growl. It was all I could do not to drag her into the backseat of that car like a caveman.


Tags: Natasha L. Black Romance
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