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By:Lynda Chance

Her mouth opened of its own volition. "I'm not sleeping with you." Her eyes widened and her fingers gripped the table. Oh, my God. Had she just said that?

A hint of laughter came from his throat and he raised his brows, his eyes raking over her as if she were the kind of dessert he'd been waiting his whole life for. "All right."

Still dismayed that she'd voiced her thought out loud, his casual agreement combined with the rapacious glitter coming from his eyes caused immediate suspicion. "You're okay with that?"

His gaze held a sheen of purpose: his eyes reflected a seductive promise as he waited a second too long before answering. "Sure."

Liar. He was lying. She knew he was.

But she'd put her cards on the table so now she could play along for a bit. "Okay," she breathed out. She licked her lips and tried to think of something to say to break the loud, pulsing silence that beat between them. "So, you know my name." She arched an eyebrow as she thought better of what she'd just said. She was probably giving him too much credit. "You do remember my name?"

His features turned sharp and assessing, but something in them was unfathomable. "Sure do," he answered with an air of placid ease that Lauren didn't buy.

She narrowed her eyes on him with a hint of disbelief. "What is it?"

He squinted as he looked away for a moment, as if he were trying to figure something out. His fingers tapped on the table. Lauren's nerves wouldn't steady as she looked at his long, tanned fingers. They had masculine, blunt nails and appeared tough and callused, as if he worked with them out of doors. He turned a teasing gaze back to her. "Let's see. Something with an 'L'. Lisa, Linda, Leanna, something like that."

Lauren gave him a look that was meant to shoot daggers, but she was afraid she'd failed miserably. He grinned and as quickly as a snake striking, reached across the table and grabbed her hand, as if it was his to take. He laced his fingers through hers until the heat of his palm was searing into hers and he rasped in a heated tone, "Lauren."

From the touch of his hand, she felt electricity course down her entire length and pool between her legs. Her insides felt like liquid marshmallow, and the weakness that overtook her body left her with no words and barely enough oxygen.

"Do you want to know my name?" He asked as he stared at her, his hand holding hers hostage in an unyielding grasp.

She took a shuddering breath as his deep, dark voice slid down her spine and his callused palm against hers made thinking almost impossible. "I suppose . . . there's no way out of it."

He gave her a questioning look as if it was decision time. "Yeah, there is. You can start screaming at the top of your lungs and I guarantee that the two cops sitting behind you will come running."

With the full force of his attention zeroed in on her, it took Lauren a moment before his statement sunk in. And when it did, she was discomfited and surprise dazed her. "Are you serious? Are there two cops behind me?"

"Maybe." He shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe not." His fingers tightened around hers. "But you just lost your window to scream." His thumb softly caressed the back of her hand as his eyes devoured her. "My name's Logan Crenshaw."

Logan Crenshaw. A strong, masculine name. It suited him. Lauren let the name sink in and memorized it quickly as if it might have some major importance in her life. "Hi."

A dizzy current rushed through her as he scrutinized her with a smoldering flame. "Lauren . . ." His voice trailed off with a question as if he expected her to supply her last name post-haste.

"Lauren Jacobs." Was she certifiably insane? And then she made herself acknowledge the question that had been beating through her system since she'd glanced up and seen him a few minutes ago. "Did you know I'd be here today?"

He wore a blank, impassive stare. "I had a hunch."

At his answer, Lauren quickly gauged where he might have received his 'hunch' and she glanced at the teenage boy behind the counter with a penetrating look. "I should turn him in."

"Nah. He knows I'm harmless."

Lauren turned back and glanced pointedly at where Logan still had her hand captured in his, and then into his eyes. "Are you?"

He didn't pretend to misunderstand her. "Harmless?"


"Sure," he answered succinctly.

A shiver ran through her. "May I have my hand back?"

"Absolutely." His grasp only tightened around her, negating his answer, while he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and tossed it between them. "Just as soon as you key your number into my cell."

A ribbon of sexual curiosity cast a spell over Lauren. "You're holding my right hand." She glanced down at his smart phone that wasn't the same as hers. On a normal day, she'd have enough brainpower to figure it out. With him holding her hand? No way. "And I'm not used to your phone."

"Okay. Rattle it off," he offered in a compromise, picking up the phone but still not letting loose of her hand.

Lauren's nerves quaked inwardly. She still wasn't sure how she wanted to handle this, and tried to delay him with humor. "Seven-one-three," she began, reciting one of the more prominent Houston area codes. "Eight-six-seven-five-three-zero-nine," she said in a perfectly neutral tone.

He immediately began keying the numbers into his phone, but then he abruptly stopped and his eyes zeroed in on hers. She saw a hint of amusement and a glimmer of . . . something else. "Ahh Lauren honey," he intoned softly, almost challengingly. "You're going to pay for that one, sweetheart."

"You know your eighties dance music?" she asked, somewhat surprised.

"Do you like to dance?" he retaliated swiftly.

"Yeah, I do," she answered honestly.

"When do you want to go?"

They might only be joking around, but in Lauren's experience only about a quarter of the men out there cared to dance at all, and finding one wasn't the easiest thing in the world. "You're offering to take me dancing?"

His eyes held hers for three beats. "All I need is your phone number."

He was probably only leading her on to get her number, but the thought of fast songs leading to slow songs and him holding her intimately was causing her limbs to tremble. "I'm not so sure I'm ready to go dancing with you quite yet."

"How about dinner?" He offered so softly and gently that Lauren knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what he wanted her answer to be.

The look he was giving her pierced her soul. She really wanted to go. But she didn't believe him for a minute that not sleeping with him would be okay. He'd be after her; she knew he would. And the knowledge was inducing not only sexual heat but also a mild sense of panic.

And then she remembered what Heidi said would happen to her if she didn't start dating again.

She didn't believe it but she also didn't want to become a sad old lady with only a bunch of cats for company.

And he was amazingly, agonizingly hot.

Taking a chance, she inhaled deeply and rattled off her phone number.

He reared back in his seat. "Are you serious this time?"


He released her hand, put both hands around his phone, and keyed the number in. "Dinner tonight?" He swiftly tried to get her to commit.

"I can't tonight." Lauren thought of all the hours of work ahead of her. "Are you busy tomorrow night?" she asked, rather daringly, shocking herself a little.

His gaze raked her, appraising her hotly. "You want to give me a Friday night?"

What the hell did he mean by that? "Just dinner, right?" she clarified firmly.

"Yeah, I'll pick you up."

Now that he had her phone number, his answers were coming so swiftly that Lauren had the impression he was trying to rope and tie her down. "No, I'll meet you somewhere."

He lifted one eyebrow and his expression was impossible to read. "Don't trust me?"

Lauren lifted her chin a notch and crossed her arms over her chest. "Absolutely not."

Any laughter that might have been in his eyes died, and he gave her a wholly approving look. "Good girl." He held her gaze captive for several prolonged heartbeats and a warm, fuzzy feeling hit Lauren's stomach from his blatant approval.

He glanced back down and keyed something into his phone.

Her cell vibrated. She picked it up and read the text there. Logan Crenshaw. Just his name. And yet simple and powerful. Well, there was no way she could confuse his text with someone else's, now could she?

Lauren hadn't told Heidi about her upcoming date because she didn't want to hear the kind of lecture that she knew she'd be subjected to. So Lauren had no outlet for her nerves and when she walked into the restaurant on the south side of town where she'd agreed to meet Logan, her stomach was tied into knots of stress.

She stood in line at the hostess stand and surreptitiously looked around. Her phone vibrated almost immediately and she lifted it and read the text there. At the bar. Her nerves escalated as she realized that even now, she was being watched.

She declined to waste time sending an answer and walked around the line of people until she found the bar area. Almost immediately, she saw his tall figure stand to his feet at the far end of the bar, and she felt the butterflies dance around in her stomach and try to claw their way up her throat. Jesus, he was good-looking.