Max made his way through the tables ringing a small dance floor. The place was nearly empty, save for the men hovering near the bar for the night’s last drinks. The tension in his shoulders knotted tighter. All it would take would be one smart-ass comment. He hungered for an excuse to drive his fist through something.
The crowd parted, and a flash of a slim white ankle snagged his attention. Every trace of anger, bitter regret, and frustration coalesced into a single, burning need.
The men blocking his view shifted, and the ankle drew his glance upward to a bare knee. The woman’s legs parted, and one slid atop the other. Her foot sawed up and down, and a slender, functionless sandal dangled from the tips of her painted toes. God, he wanted to help her lose the shoes altogether.
He advanced toward the men standing between him and his goal. Their faces registered annoyance for only a moment before they stepped aside. The hard hunger that rode his belly must have turned his face into an implacable mask.
As he drew near, her shape was revealed one tantalizing curve at a time. Sweetly turned hips were clothed in a stretchy black skirt that ended at the top of her thighs—not a hint of underwear marred the smooth fit. Conveniently tied behind her neck, a miniscule top bared the gleaming, supple skin of her back and midriff—again, no sign of a bra.
Finally, his gaze rose to her face. She could have been a whole lot less than appetizing, and he’d still have wanted her on the merits of that ride-able frame. But her face only made him more determined to have her.
Large, doe-like eyes, framed by thick lashes, blinked as she caught his stare. Her upper lip was a fraction fuller than the lower and inspired delicious, succulent fantasies. Her face was round, her jaw small, and a thumbprint dimple carved her chin into two delicious halves. His tongue itched to slide along that little notch.
As he reached the bar, he drew a deep breath, eager to catch the scent of her perfume. He wasn’t disappointed. The woman smelled like sex. Hot, nasty, spicy sex.
His body hardened along with his intentions. With only a fleeting thought for how aggressive he might appear, he loomed over her, his gaze sweeping downward. When he glanced back up to her eyes, he schooled his expression into something shy of predatory. He didn’t want to frighten her away before he’d even learned her name.
Instead of looking intimidated or frightened by his intensity, as so many women would have, she raised a single dark eyebrow. She didn’t say a word, just returned his stare. Somehow, her bold action felt out of sync with the wariness lurking in her eyes.
Then he noticed the movement of her throat as she swallowed. Did he make her nervous?
Her expression betrayed no such fear. Part amusement and part calculation, it changed as her gaze dropped from his face to sweep down his chest and lower. Interest with only a hint of alarm flared her nostrils and tightened her jaw, causing her to open her mouth to take a deeper breath.
She had good reason to be wary. If she told him to back off, he’d be hard pressed to obey. Every male chromosome in his body screamed at his groin to take her.
His gaze never leaving hers, he took a deep, calming breath and forced himself to follow the ritual. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“I’m not thirsty.” Her voice pleased him. Feminine, but not too dainty, with a hint of aged whiskey.
Undeterred, he nodded to the bartender hovering behind her. “Two draft beers.”
Her brown eyes narrowed, but she remained silent.
He raised an eyebrow. “Maybe I’m just thirsty.”
“Or impossibly arrogant,” she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.
He bit back a grin. “I haven’t seen you here before,” he said, and then cursed himself for using such a tired line.
“I’m new to the area,” she said, sounding bored. Her foot sawed faster.
Great! They sounded like trained parrots. How could he think of conversation when all he wanted was to slide his hands around her naked back? “What’s your name?”
Pia. Cute name, a little sassy like she was. Or rather, like he thought she might be if he could just figure out how to get her talking.
At least she hadn’t tried to bolt. He leaned past her to reach for one of the beers the bartender laid behind her on the bar. He held it out.
Her hands remained in her lap, her expression defiant.
Well, hell! His luck wasn’t running any better. He lifted the glass and gulped the foam.
She watched him, her eyes following the movement of his throat. Her tongue licked her full lower lip.
Before he gave it a thought, he handed her the same beer again.
Rather than pouring it on his shoes, her hands slid around the glass. Her gaze remained on the beer.
Satisfaction throbbed in his belly. She’d probably like an introduction before he asked her to go home with him. “Name’s Max.”
Her lips pressed together and then curved into a smile that stretched the full lower lip. The lady had a rather large mouth. It was perfect. “As in Maximus?”
The smile warmed him while giving him confidence he hadn’t totally blown it. He shifted his feet and stepped closer, bringing her crossed legs between his. “Do you doubt it?” he asked, his voice low.
Her head tilted back, and a frown drew together her finely arched brows. “Do you think I’m impressed with your caveman tactics?”
His glance slid down to her breasts. Her headlights were erect little points that stabbed toward him. “Damn right,” he said, hoping he hadn’t read her body language wrong.
With a toss of her hair, she uncrossed her legs, her knee caressing the inside of his thigh. “Sorry about that,” she murmured, although she didn’t look sorry at all. She’d just checked him out.
His heart kicked into a slow, thrumming throb. The lady knew where this was leading. She’d accepted his beer.
The part of him that had tensed in pursuit relaxed. She could be his if he didn’t overplay his cards. And he had a decision to make. Savor a slower rise to climax or take her hard and fast? “Dance with me.”
She shook her head, which swept the ends of her curly brown hair across the tops of her bare shoulders. “I don’t dance.”
He reached for the beer she held in her lap and set it on the bar. His fingers closed around her slender wrist, and he tugged her up from the stool.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She tottered on her heels for a moment, and her nipples brushed his chest. Her gaze, wide-eyed, set his heart thumping in a slower, heavier beat. He swept his arm around her waist and pulled her along to the dance floor. He needed her in his arms now.
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