"Are you sure you aren't cheating?" Derek asked, laughing.
Paula had won three rounds of Euchre, with him as her partner.
"Absolutely not! I don't even know how to cheat in cards!" she protested. What is trump?" she asked, having asked twice already.
"Diamonds! Are you going alone, or do you want me to play too?"
Biting her lip, she was silent for a moment then nodded. "I'll go alone. Thanks anyway, partner," she said.
Raising his eyebrow, he put his cards on the table face down.
The couple that they played with put down their cards and Paula laid down the ten of diamonds, taking the hand. The next card she played was the ace of diamonds and took those cards as well. Then, she led with the ace of spades, losing that hand. Finally, she put down the Jack of diamonds and the Jack of hearts, capturing the last two hands.
"You did it! Congratulations, Paula. Nice job."
"Thanks. It was a pleasure playing with you," she thanked their opponents. "I don't know about you, Derek, but I'm kind of tired and would like to call it a night."
"Works for me, I still have a couple of gallons of salt water to process. It's exhausting being a hero," he teased.
Laughing, she accepted his hand and they said good night to their Euchre companions. They made their way back to their rooms.
Derek paused outside of her door.
"Goodnight," Derek said, leaning in to kiss her tenderly.
"Goodnight, Derek. I had a wonderful time today." Paula whispered. She gazed into his deep-blue eyes and saw a question. Shivering she panicked and opened her door, ready to slip inside.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" he asked, his voice husky, his eyes burning with a dare.
"Sure. Yes. Goodnight," she said and stepped into her room, closing the door.
Putting her hand over her heart, she shook her head. "What am I doing?" she whispered, thinking of her heroines and their courage in the face of passion. She decided that she didn't want to be alone, especially if it meant not being near a man as kind and gentle as Derek.
Nodding to herself, she said, "I'm forty-five freaking years old, for crying out loud! It's the millennium! And...and...damn it! I want that man!"
Filled with her resolution she grabbed her purse and key card and left her room. Walking straight across the hall she knocked on the door. She had a terrifying moment where she thought her legs wouldn't hold her, but braced herself.
When the door opened, she just stared at him and couldn't speak, though her mouth made every attempt as it opened and closed like a guppy's.
Without a word, Derek took her hand and pulled her close, closing the door behind them. His lips found hers and she dropped the purse and card, kissing him with a sudden wild passion.
When she finally pulled her lips away, she said, "I...I want to be with you."
"I don't have a problem with that," he chuckled then kissed her again.