Becker resisted a sigh. Shit, he really needed to quit thinking about the divorce. It had been finalized months ago, and yet here he was, constantly thinking about his ex-wife. Maybe he needed to take a page out of his teammates' books and indulge in some random, no-strings sex.
And double shit, because sex was definitely something he shouldn't be thinking about either. Not now, anyway.
The woman in his lap shifted, letting out a wobbly breath that broke through the silence. "Okay, this isn't working," she choked out. "Maybe you can try to distract me? Talk to me about something."
Becker fought a wave of discomfort. Wonderful. If there was one thing he sucked at, it was talking. Especially to women.
"Please," she added, obviously seeing the reluctance in his eyes.
"Talk about what?" he finally asked, caving in.
"Anything. Tell me about the bullet wound in your arm, your favorite movie, your pet peeves. I don't care." Another shaky breath.
"Um, okay." He paused. "Well, bullet wounds fucking hurt."
Her lips quirked, and Becker was startled by the little spark of pleasure he got from knowing he'd made her smile. "What does it feel like? Is it like a knife wound? Because I know what that feels like."
"When the hell did you get a knife wound?"
"College. I was a reporter for the school paper and I went to interview this meth addict for a piece I was doing. Only he was super high and thought I was a narc." She offered a small shrug, as if to say no biggie.
Despite himself, Becker grinned. "Remember earlier how I said you were persistent? Well, correction--you're nuts."
"It was an important story. Getting knifed added some color to the piece." Her blue eyes twinkled. "So, the bullet...?"
"Right. Well, to be honest, I didn't even feel it at first. Adrenaline running too high, you know. I was too focused on getting your sister into the chop--" He narrowed his eyes. "All this is off the record, right?"
Jane made a face. "Unfortunately. But I still think you should let me interview you."
"Fine." She gave a little pout, which brought another smile to his lips. "At least finish the story."
"Yes, ma'am. So, like I said, didn't feel a thing at first, not until I climbed into the chopper. Then the pain hit me, like a streak of lightning. Arm started throbbing, head spinning from the loss of blood. Felt like someone stuck a live wire straight into my bone."
"Is that the first time you've been shot?"
"First time I've had a bullet in me, yeah. I've been grazed a few times, knifed, slashed by a machete once..." His voice drifted, and he smiled at the horror in her eyes. "Part of the job."
"I could never do it," Jane said frankly. "A job where I'm constantly getting injured? No thank you. I'd way rather interview people in the comfort of their homes."
He shot her a curious glance. "What kind of stories do you write?"
"Whatever I get assigned. Last issue I had a piece about insider trading, the one before that was a story about human trafficking."
"And now you're working on a story about your sister?"
She nodded then released a long breath. To his relief, this one didn't sound shaky. She was evidently calming down. "I was so worried about her, Becker. When her office called and told us she'd gone off the radar, I thought she was dead." Jane swallowed. "I always tell her not to take such risky assignments, but she never listens."
He arched a brow. "Would you ever turn down a story because someone told you there might be some risk?"
The corner of her mouth curved. "No. I guess it runs in the family, huh? Pigheadedness is probably the only thing I have in common with them."
"You don't get along with your family?"
"No, I do. I love them to death. But sometimes I feel like the odd man out, you know? My mom, Dad, Liz, my brother Ken--they're all so similar. Look alike, think alike. Hell, they all chose the same career. Photographers, all of them!" She shook her head, looking baffled. "Journalism is a related field, I guess, but I know squat about photography. We have dinner together every Wednesday night, and the four of them drone on and on about new techniques they're using or what not, and I just sit there, twiddling my thumbs." She halted suddenly, her cheeks reddening. "Sorry, I don't mean to complain. You're probably bored by my rambling, huh?"
Actually, he was the farthest thing from bored. Becker couldn't remember the last time he'd enjoyed listening to a woman talk. And he knew exactly what Jane was saying. How many times had he sat at the dinner table listening to Alice go on and on about her headshots and runway walk and the latest fashion trends, then watching her get all huffy when he had nothing to contribute to the conversation? Too many times.
"I don't mind the rambling," he admitted. "I find you interesting."
She smiled again. "Thank you."
Fuck, he liked that. Thank you. Alice had never been able to take compliments, always feigning humbleness while in reality she loved hearing how wonderful she was.
He swept his gaze over Jane's beautiful face, and then, before he could stop himself, lightly ran his hand over her hip. Her lips parted slightly, a flicker of arousal in her eyes, and Becker's hand instantly stilled. Shit, what was he doing? The air between them sizzled, while the heat from her curvy little body seared into him and made his pulse race. He realized she was the first woman he'd been attracted to since the divorce, and the notion unnerved him.
Clearing his throat, he struggled to snuff out the flame of desire burning in his body. "So, did you always want to be a journalist?" he blurted out.
She blinked, as if snapping herself out of her own sexual haze. "Uh, yeah. Ever since I was a kid. I used to write articles about everyone in the neighborhood." She grinned. "I was convinced Mr. Jervais from across the street was up to no good, so I would spy on him and then write about what I saw."
"What did you see?"
"Well, he took out the garbage a lot, so I decided he was getting rid of dismembered body parts. And he spent a lot of time in his garage, which was obviously where he killed his victims."
Becker laughed. "Poor man. I hope you didn't show him any of the stories."
"No, my parents made me shred them. They said even ten year olds could be arrested for slander and harassment."
"And ten years later, you're still at it, huh?"
"That would make me twenty. I'm twenty-eight, thank you very much. But I appreciate the compliment. And yes, I'm still at it. I'm going to win a Pulitzer someday, you know."
The flash of ambition he saw in her eyes brought a wave of uneasiness. He'd seen that look far too many times in his ex-wife's eyes.
"And what about a husband and kids? Do you see that in your future too, or just the Pulitzer?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Sure, I want those things too, but there's no rush. I want to focus on my career right now, make a name for myself. There'll be time for all the rest."
Becker stifled a snort. How many times had he heard that one? There's no rush. There's time. Alice had spouted that bull for fourteen years of marriage, before finally dropping the bomb that she never planned on starting a family.
A spark of bitterness ignited in his gut, but he forced himself not to reveal his thoughts on the subject to Jane. He seriously needed to stop comparing her to his ex. He didn't even know this woman. He had no right judging her choices and goals. So what if they weren't aligned with his? Wasn't like he was going to marry the girl.
"I do make plenty of time for sex, though," she added with a small grin.
His hard-on returned with full-force, straining against his zipper. No doubt Jane felt it straining against her too, because her eyes widened slightly. "Oh my," she murmured.
Becker rolled his eyes. "That's what happens when you say the word sex while you're sitting in a man's lap, sweetheart."
"Do you want me to say it again?" she asked with an impish look.
"Seeing as we're trapped here in this elevator, I can't really stop you from saying anything, can I?"
He instantly knew he'd said the wrong thing because Jane's blue eyes flickered with terror. She glanced around the small space, as if remembering where they were and why there were there. Her throat worked as she swallowed repeatedly, and Beck could practically hear her pulse began to race. Shit. Why on earth had he reminded her they were trapped in an elevator?
"Jane--" he started.
"How long has it been?" she cut him off. "Didn't he say a half an hour? It feels like ages since--"
She shifted in his lap, hand fumbling toward her purse. "My phone has the time on it. I need to see--"
"--how long we've been here. Do you feel hot too or is it just me? And it is getting hard to breathe, because I really can't--"
Becker pressed his lips to hers. He hadn't planned on kissing her, but it was the only way to shut her up, to distract her before she hurled herself headfirst off another panic cliff.
Only, the second his mouth touched hers, he forgot all about why he'd kissed her in the first place. Instead, all he could think about was...well, kissing her. Kissing the holy hell out of her.
So he did.