Take Me if You Dare (Entangled Brazen)(4)

By: Nina Crespo

If he could only read my mind…

She looked at him, and his eyes zeroed in on her lips, his intentions clear, but he waited, giving her time to move away. The slip of his arm around her waist, the glide of his hand through the hair at the nape of her neck, the slow lean in, all brought out her soft sigh. His mouth pressed to hers, and she fell into a kiss that uncoiled need. All common sense about time and place was lost in the glide of his tongue stroking, teasing, and testing how far she was willing to go…all the way and back if he was taking her there. Dancers, caught up in the fast beat of the next song, bumped into them, and they took a step back. As she blinked away the haze of desire, she saw matching want in his eyes.

He took hold of her hand, and in silent agreement, they walked off the packed dance floor, headed for the bar. When they got there, she settled into the last empty seat fanning her face, warm from the humidity and the lingering effects of the kiss.

“Would you like a drink?” he asked.

She allowed herself an extra second to study him, taking in the slight bump on his nose, the masculine angles of his face, and the hint of her gloss still on his lips. His eyes, like the pull of gravity, brought her attention back up to his steady gaze.

“Chardonnay,” she said.

He signaled the bartender, placed the order for her wine, and added on a beer.

As she dabbed away the light sheen of moisture on her forehead with a napkin, he leaned down, and the light stubble on his face brushed against her cheek. “By the way,” he said, “my name is Ethan.”

Chapter Two

She looked at him, and once again, she got all tangled up in the pull of attraction still buzzing between them. His puzzled stare reminded her he was waiting for a response, and she gave herself a mental shake.

“I’m Jasmine.”

The bartender showed up with their drinks, and while Ethan paid for them, she took a sip from her glass. The cold, crisp, fruity taste of the wine brought her temperature down and washed away some of the dryness from her throat.

“So tell me, Jasmine.” He placed his hand on the back of her chair, a proprietary gesture, claiming her and their space at the bar. “You had to have known every knuckleheaded guy in this place was going to hit on you, so why are you here alone?”

She debated among the coy, the cute, and the utterly clueless, and opted for a slice of the truth.

“I was attending a conference this week, and I didn’t get a chance to relax. It’s my last night in Miami, and a friend suggested this place so…” She shrugged out the last part of her answer behind another sip of wine.

He chuckled, and the deep timbre of his laugh stroked over her in all the right places.

“Relax?” He eyed her over the beer bottle as he took a drink. “Your friend doesn’t know Miami very well. This bar is one of the hottest spots in the city on a Saturday night.”

Jasmine sputtered, nearly choking on her wine. “Ah—no, she must have missed that part.”

Tab had actually said the lounge was boring, more of a place for business than pleasure, and had suggested she go to a trendier club downtown.

Sneaky witch…

She’d agreed to Tab’s dare to get over her dry spell, like a batter finally taking a swing to get out of a slump, that’s all. No flirting, no partying, no long-term expectations. She wasn’t doing this for fun. No doubt Tab was betting on her choosing the hotel lounge as the safest place to find a guy, get the deed done, and still get in a good night’s sleep, alone, before her flight out in the morning.

Ethan regarded her quizzically for a moment, and then he gave her a sexy smile so lethal it obliterated every trace of embarrassment.

Turning the tables, she asked, “So tell me, Ethan, do you normally come here on a Saturday night to rescue women from knuckleheaded men?”

His widening smile deepened the dimple in his left cheek.

“Honestly, I’m here because it’s convenient. My buddy and I are on vacation. We’re staying at his condo farther up the beach.” He leaned down near her ear. “And as far as rescuing a woman in this place goes, you’re my first.”

The way he said the words was like an intimate caress, and her fingers tightened around the stem of the wineglass. She’d never felt this attracted to a man, not even Greg. Another image of her and Ethan settling Tab’s challenge vividly came to mind.