Taking Care of Business(9)

By: Brenda Jackson


“Thanks. I didn’t wanted to put you out.” She smiled and he immediately felt her warmth. Relief ran through him that she wasn’t uncomfortable being seen with him. Still, he sensed her nervousness. Was she worried that he would try to kiss her goodbye? What if he did? Would she reciprocate? There was only one way to find out.

Renee watched as Tag came around the front of his vehicle to open the door for her. She couldn’t help but think about how much difference there was between him and Dionne. Other than the obvious skin coloring, there was the way they regarded women. Because Dionne had been raised by a single mother who’d evidently been a superwoman, he had expected a woman to be able to do just about anything for herself, including opening her own car door and seeing herself into the house. The only time he’d walked her to the door was when he had expected to spend the night.

“Thanks,” she said when Tag opened the door and offered his hand to help her out of the vehicle. Her heart fluttered at the feel of their hands touching, and she couldn’t help wondering if the reaction was one-sided. Evidently it wasn’t since he continued to hold her hand while walking her up the steps to her apartment.

He continued to hold her hand while walking her up the steps to her apartment.

He stepped aside while she unlocked the door. She wondered if he was waiting for her to invite him in. All day they had enjoyed being together without any type of flirtation, or promises of getting to know each other better. So why was her heart beating a thousand beats a minute, and why was she feeling heated from the way he was looking at her?

She cleared her throat. “Thanks again, Tag. I really enjoyed today.”

“So did I. And bundle up good tonight. I understand the temperature will begin dropping around midnight.”

“Okay.” She thought of her huge bed where she would be sleeping alone, and for the first time in two years the thought actually bothered her. It also made her realize that Dionne had been the last man she’d been serious about. Once she moved to New York she had spent more time developing her career than seeking out any worthwhile relationships with the opposite sex. She had kept telling herself she was only twenty-eight and there was no rush. Now she suddenly felt…rushed.

“Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?”

She blinked, then gazed into Tag’s piercing blue eyes. She swallowed the thickness in her throat. “Dinner?”

“Yes, dinner. Tomorrow night.”

Renee sighed. Okay, he had asked the million-dollar question, so how would she respond? She had to be honest with herself. If he had been an African-American male she would probably not have hesitated, but there were issues she needed to consider with him being white. The difference in their race was a major factor, but then so was the difference in their social backgrounds. His family owned a magazine publishing company whose headquarters took up an entire Manhattan block, for crying out loud. He lived in Tribeca of all places. An area known for its high-rise condos, quiet streets, good schools and wealthy lifestyles. It was a haven for the well-to-do. For people like the Elliotts.

“Renee?”

She glanced over at him. “Yes?”

“Can we step into your apartment to finish this conversation? I think we’re drawing unwanted attention.”

Renee glanced around, noting his statement was true. A couple of people in her apartment building were openly staring at them. She returned her gaze to his. “Yes, let’s go inside.”

She opened the door, and the moment they stepped over the threshold, heat filled her insides in a way it hadn’t ever before. “Can I get you something to drink?”

He leaned back against her closed door, placing his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “No, I’m fine, but what you can do is give me an answer to my question about dinner tomorrow night.”

Renee nervously licked her lips.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Lick your lips like that. You’ve done it several times today and each time I’ve wanted to replace your tongue with my own. Even now I’m standing here fighting the urge not to.”

His words fanned an already heated spot deep within her. Her heart suddenly began beating faster. Out of habit she automatically licked her lips again and when she realized what she’d done, she quickly said, “Oops. I didn’t mean to do that.”

His eyes stayed glued to her face. “Too late. It’s been done.”

He slowly moved away from the door, removing the distance separating them. When he came to a stop in front of her he studied her with an intensity that she felt all the way to her toes.