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By:Lynda Chance

The lights were dimmed for the nighttime crowd, and when she got close enough, he reached out and snagged her hand and pulled her into him, until her torso came flush against his with startling impact. Her breath escaped with a silent 'whoosh' and without waiting for her consent, his head dropped down and his mouth covered hers in a kiss so unexpected that the surprise of it hit her full force.

His hand released hers and his arms wrapped around her, gripping her tightly to his large form. Her lips parted slightly from the impact and he took immediate advantage and pushed his tongue inside. Lauren shut her eyes and was swamped with the hottest wave of desire she could ever remember feeling. Every thought in her brain escaped her head and all she could do was hang in his arms as he kissed her as if she already belonged to him. She had a single crazy thought; it was as if they'd been together forever and were meeting after work for the thousandth time. But that was just a weird feeling of déjà vu, and the hot jangle of excited nerves she was feeling told her it was definitely the first time.

As his tongue swirled slowly and firmly in her mouth, he turned his head and adjusted the way their mouths fit together. He took total control of the kiss, his arms claiming her, steel bands holding her in place. His mastery was absolute, yet she felt no threat from him, only a weird sense of sanctuary that blended with an all-consuming craving for more of his touch. Her hands landed on his biceps to find purchase, and his fingers slid down to her butt and clenched her flesh.

It was as if an electric wire connected them; his touch coiled through her and landed like a heated ache between her thighs. Her legs began to shake and just when she began to forget that they stood in a crowded room full of rowdy people, he lifted his head. She finally remembered to open her eyes, and when she did, she found his look centered wholly on her.

Any lingering smile he might have worn dissolved completely. In fact, his eyes narrowed and his expression was one she couldn't interpret, but for some reason, he looked none too happy, but maybe she was reading too much into it. He continued to restrain her tightly within the circle of his embrace, and she cleared her throat in agitation. "Hi," was all she could manage.

His eyes dropped to her lips before slowly lifting again and tangling with hers. "Hey."

She took a ragged breath as her heart beat viciously in her chest. "I wasn't expecting that."

His eyes shadowed. "I didn't plan it."

Lauren saw the truth of that statement in his eyes, and as they continued to stare at each other, the crowd jostled and Lauren felt a push from behind, and the moment was broken. Logan's arms clamped protectively around her as he looked over her head. His eyebrows came together and he swiveled her until she was standing away from the crowd and he blocked her with his body.

Lauren was just about to sit on a barstool when the hostess arrived and led them to their table. They were led all the way to the back of the restaurant, and Logan stood beside her while Lauren slid into the booth. She was kept totally off-balance when he slid in next to her instead of taking the seat across from hers.

The hostess gave them two menus and told them that their server would be there soon to take their order.

Logan opened his menu and began to scan it. "What do you want to drink?"

Lauren glanced at the beer bottle he'd carried with him from the bar. "Corona Light."

He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "Salt?"

"Oh, yeah, definitely. Lime and extra salt."

Their server came and Lauren couldn't help but notice that the girl couldn't keep her eyes off Logan. And who could blame her?

They placed their orders for food and drink and sat back. Logan didn't delve into speech right away. He looked away from her, in the opposite direction, as he seemed to study the restaurant, but his hand slid under the table and Lauren almost jumped out of her skin as she felt his beefy hand on her thigh.

He must have felt her jump because he turned and looked down at her. "You okay?"

Lauren unwrapped her utensils from the napkin to occupy her hands. "Yeah."

His expression was hooded as he looked down at her. "You're okay with my hand there?"

She exhaled a shaky breath. "Do I have a choice?" She didn't want a choice; she loved his hand there.

His look became thoughtful. "You need to learn something about me right off the bat. You always have a choice." His eyes ran over her. "There's something about you," he said, as if to himself. He studied her intently with a hooded gaze. "If I push too hard, I want you to promise me right now that you'll let me know, okay?"

Lauren caught her breath. That sounded serious. Nothing like first date, getting-to-know-you kind of stuff. "All right."

"So, you're okay with my hand there?" He asked again as his fingers spread over her thigh and gripped her in a subtle caress.

She nodded her head. "Mm-hmm."

He looked away again, but his hand stayed plastered to her thigh. Lauren wasn't sure why he kept turning away from her but she knew instinctively that she still retained one hundred percent of his attention. His hand slid up and down her thigh and his voice was anything but casual as he asked, "If I tell you something, will you believe me and not think I'm just bullshitting you in a lame attempt to get you into bed?"

"Yeah, sure," Lauren managed, bracing herself for what he might say.

He turned back toward her and his eyes swallowed hers whole. Seconds passed and the prolonged anticipation began to make her blood heat. For a moment Lauren thought he'd changed his mind and wasn't going to say anything, but then he inhaled and said in a roughened voice, "You've got to be the sexiest woman I've ever come across in my entire goddamned life."

His words registered and a thousand points of light rushed through her system and attacked her with a need so strong that she felt light-headed. Even though she didn't know him, not really, she somehow believed he was telling her the truth. His eyes never let hers go and she could only respond with the truth, although she could manage little more than a whisper. "You're pretty sexy yourself."

His eyes flared and his lips clenched as his hand slid up another inch on her thigh. "How long do you think we'll be able to stay out of bed?" he asked in a rough, heated tone, almost as if he was as stunned by the depth of the chemistry between them as she was.

Lauren was saved from having to answer when their drinks arrived. But all she could think about was the question he'd just asked and how she could distract them both from it. She moved her beer bottle forward and reached for the lime and carefully squeezed it into the bottle before dropping the entire wedge inside.

He watched the procedure intently. "You're pretty good at that."

She flashed her eyes at him and tried to regain a little control over the situation. "It's a fine art, you know."

"Mm-hmm." He took a drink of his own beer and seemed to take his attention from her again, but Lauren felt his concentration never waver.

As he watched from the corner of his eye, Lauren lifted the bottle and took a tiny swipe of the salt with her tongue before lifting the beer and taking a sip.

He spluttered, slammed his bottle to the table and turned to her completely. "You did that on purpose," he accused.

She laughed and did it again, this time taking a bit more salt on her tongue. "No, I didn't."

"Yeah, you did." He reached out and knocked a grain of salt from her lip.

It was a definite turn-on, watching him watch her. "It's the only way I can drink beer. I have to have lots of salt."

He looked dumbfounded. "You don't like beer?"

She turned toward him with the bottle in her hand and took another sip. "I hate it."

His face broke into amused creases as he studied her. "Why did you order it?"

She smiled and tipped her head to the side. "Because you're drinking and I want to drink with you, but I can't."

"You can't?" His eyes turned into slits. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Lauren shrugged a single shoulder. "It means I want a margarita, but I'm going to settle on a beer."

"Why can't you have a margarita?"

"Because I'm driving and I'm a lightweight. I'll only drink about half this beer, a few sips will take the edge off but I'll be able to drive."

He watched her for the count of three seconds before answering, "That's the craziest shit I've ever heard."

"But you don't doubt that I'm telling the truth, right?"

"Oh, I believe you're telling the truth." He took another sip of his beer before continuing, "It's too insane to be anything but the truth."

She smiled but remained silent and he continued in a lower voice, "So, you need to take the edge off?"

He was watching her intently and a sensuous light passed between them. "Yeah," she admitted.

His gaze sharpened on her. "Why?"

When his eyes fell to her breasts, the truth came tumbling from her lips. "Because you make me nervous?"

He raised his eyes back to her face. "Was that a statement or a question?" he asked.

She took a deep breath. "It was a statement; you make me nervous."

His expression turned serious, his gaze riveted on her as a look came down over his countenance that she couldn't identify. "Sweetheart, if it makes you feel any better, you scare the shit out of me."