"I really should go back to Davy." She looked around, realizing the cad had fled the moment she landed in Jax's arms. So much for buying her a drink. "We came to the ball together."
"He's disappeared." A wry smile spread across his face. "Looks like he's abandoned you to my dubious care."
"Or just gone to find himself a snack." She caught a glimpse of her absent date filling his plate at the buffet table. "Apparently I'm somewhat less interesting than Mrs. Claus' shortbread pinwheels."
Jax chuckled, and the sound sent a ripple of heat through her. "I can assure you, I find you infinitely more fascinating than any of the baked goods, even Mrs. Claus' famous pinwheels. If I were fifty years younger, you'd have to fight me off. When I close my eyes I can almost taste that silky mocha skin of yours."
Tali looked into the deep blue of his eyes and knew she was lost. Desire smoldered there, and she felt the heat rolling through her belly in response. Ever since he'd partnered with her at the Ice Hunt during spring breakup, she'd been obsessed with him. His tightly muscled chest and big capable hands haunted her dreams. She'd thrown herself at him shamelessly all summer but he'd insisted on treating her like a kid sister.
Now it had come down to this. The Sugarplum Ball loosed the mystical gifts of Christmas, and she hoped it would be enough to bring Jax to her. She felt the magic radiating from the delicate piece of sugarplum candy nestled between her breasts. If she didn't wake up tomorrow with his naked body entwined with hers, it wouldn't be for lack of trying. "What's fifty years? My grandmother was seventy-five years younger than my grandpa, and they had a great relationship." She raised her brows. Age? The reason he'd been giving her the cold shoulder all these months was a mere fifty-year age difference?
"They must have been an exceptional pair, then." He loosened his grip on her arm. "Most relationship counselors agree that twenty-five years is the maximum age spread in a sustainable relationship."
Sustainable relationship? She wanted a night of hot sweaty sex, followed by a decade or ten more of the same. She didn't care about statistics! She placed herself directly in front of him and slid her hand up to his shoulder. Giving him her sexiest smile, she batted her eyelashes. "Care to tango?"
A rumble of laughter erupted from deep in his chest. "Changing the subject, are you? I warn you, I was dancing the tango when you were still sitting wrapped in a fleeced blanket sucking on candy cane ends."
Tali blinked, hoping she didn't look as naive as she felt. Tossing her head in what she hoped was an imperious manner, she placed her hand in his and let him lead her out onto the dance floor. "Lead on. I'll do my best not to embarrass you with my superior skills."
"I assure you, you'll have no complaints." He tightened his arms around her, drawing her up against his hard male body. Staring deep into her eyes, he dipped his head and slid his tongue across the seam of her lips, sending sparks of pure erotic heat dancing across her skin.
She gasped at the unexpected feelings, and he took advantage of her parted lips to slide his tongue in, delving deep. Swirling and teasing, he engaged her tongue in an erotic duel that left little doubt as to his intentions.
Just when she felt herself drowning in the sea of lust, the music changed to a dark Latin theme and he pulled back, a smile of pure male satisfaction on his face. "Shall we dance?"
Tali nodded, trying to gather her scattered wits. If Jax thought he could give her one dance and then get away after a kiss like that, he was sadly mistaken. She melted into his arms. Surely he couldn't miss the way they fit together. Perfectly. As if they'd been made for each other. The feel of his hand resting lightly on her waist sent a delicious tingle through her. He swept her around the dance floor, and unlike Davy, he was definitely the one doing the leading.
It might have been the music of the tango or the influence of the Christmas Magic that always managed to make the Sugarplum Ball a spectacular success. They moved flawlessly through the intricate moves, their gazes locked on each other while they dipped and swayed, taunted and retreated.
Tali licked her lips, tilting her chin up in a silent dare, and he responded instantly, pulling her in close and bending her back over his arm. His eyes twinkled with something dark, and he let her rest there, suspended horizontally by his strong arms. Heat roiled in her depths and she let a slow, sexy smile cover her lips.
The music quickened, the Latin beat sensual and insistent. Jax pulled her upright, twirling her away in a graceful arc. As she spun, she realized the crowd had withdrawn to the edge of the dance floor, letting her and Jax have center stage. Santa himself stood at the edge of the crowd, a tolerant smile on his face as Mrs. Claus beamed at her. Davy gave her a discreet thumbs-up from his position on the far side of the buffet table. She caught a brief glimpse of the chubby little Elf from the mailroom hanging possessively onto Davy's arm.
Jax pulled her in hard against him, and his breath feathered warmly across her ear. "You are a tempting little minx. You should be careful or you might get more than you can handle."
"I'm tired of being careful. I intend to get what I want this night."
His dark brows arched. "And what would that be?"
She locked her gaze on his. "You."