"There's something I have to know."
He put his drink down and waited, his gaze pensive. And then his stare slipped to her mouth for a second and she found it hard to breathe.
"Yeah?" Had his voice always been that low and sexy?
"How much crap have you taken from your family for what happened between us?"
His lips curled, and her fingers itched to trace the line of his grin. "How much time do you have? I was forced to take advice from Gage. The little shit thinks he knows everything about women now because he landed Hailey. And I'm still not sure how that happened."
Sydney grinned with him.
"Dylan gave me all kinds of advice."
"The flowers and the cards, right?"
He sighed. "I knew you wouldn't believe those came from me without help. Okay, yeah. He suggested that. But my mother..." He shuddered. "The woman made me lie down on her couch and gave me therapy. Sydney, you have no idea how awkward it is to hear your mother talking about sexual feelings."
She laughed, imagining his pain. "Good. Serves you right."
His gaze dropped to her mouth. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. You really pissed me off in that restaurant. I still think you got off lightly."
"I don't know how many times I have to tell you. I have no idea why Brittney acted that way. We broke up six months ago. And then she was at the restaurant crying and insulting you. Crazy."
"She didn't like seeing you with another woman, I'll bet." Sydney liked the fact that he looked uncomfortable. Derrick wasn't a guy who went through women like M&Ms.
"Not one that looked like you. You're a knockout and you know it."
She tried not to preen at that, but she couldn't help it. "Oh? So you're not into skinny blondes anymore, is that it?"
He didn't look away from her mouth, and she licked her lips, deliberately teasing.
His eyes smoldered. "You really like living dangerously, don't you?"
"Maybe." He seemed closer. Their good time shifted from fun to sexually intense in a heartbeat.
She took a hasty sip of wine. He leaned across the table, and she half hoped and half worried he'd kiss her. God, she'd jump him for sure and wouldn't let go until she'd come, at least once. No way was this man a dud, not with the chemistry zinging back and forth between them.
Derrick lifted a finger and brushed her lips, leaving a blaze of heat in his wake. He brought his finger to his mouth and sucked it clean. "I know how much you like a nice Pinot Noir. I like your taste in wine, Syd."
She couldn't look away from his lips, mesmerized by the motion of his mouth. Wine that had been on her lips touched his. She had a hard time breathing past her desire for a kiss. Then he quirked his lips and showed off his killer smile.
Her willpower to resist sunk like the Titanic.
"You're here at my mercy, and you're still mouthing off." He reached for her again and...grabbed the bottle by her plate. He winked. "But since I'm trying to get back on your good side, I'm going to let you get away with a lot tonight." He poured her more wine and sat back with a satisfied smile.
Get away with what? Tackling him to the floor and mounting him? He'd seemed so close to kissing her. But he hadn't. She wanted to call him out for teasing her, but that would mean admitting she'd wanted him to plant his lips on her. Which she hadn't, shouldn't... Hell.
He changed the subject to the meal, pointing out all of her favorite things. The wine, the food, the salad dressing. Impressed he'd done his research, she relaxed and found herself enjoying the conversation. They spent the rest of the meal talking about Gage and Hailey, a neutral enough subject considering how much they both cared for the pair.
After dinner, Derrick wouldn't let her clear a plate or lift a finger, and for once, Sydney didn't push. He wanted to make it up to her? Fine. She'd enjoyed dinner. Maybe she'd have a bit of coffee, since she smelled it brewing. And then she'd head home to a lonely house and no doubt dream about Derrick.
"Why don't you go to the couch? I'll finish with these." He cleaned up a few more plates. He'd pushed up his sleeves, exposing strong, corded forearms. Dear Lord. It felt too hot all of a sudden.
She gratefully went into the living room and sat on his leather sectional. Taking the heels from her feet, she propped her legs up on an ottoman and let her head fall back. What a day.
She'd spent her morning wrangling with a broker and had a long conference with Lena about how to market their services to more clientele. Then a search around a few newer neighborhoods for Brian, topped off by an afternoon convincing the Miller couple they'd found the perfect house--and for five grand under the asking price, even. She'd nailed the sale. It had been a decent commission for her, and a terrific feeling that she'd made the young couple very happy. And then Hailey had shown up with Derrick.
Large hands on her feet shocked a gasp out of her.
"Shh, easy. I promise not to fondle more than your feet unless you ask."
He smirked at her and rubbed her soles, and she couldn't help the moan that escaped. "Your shoes are sexy as hell, but obviously they hurt."
"The price of beauty." She moaned again. Under shuttered lids, she watched him.
He sat on the ottoman next to the one she'd claimed, his gaze fixed intently on her feet. His calloused hands were warm, firm and sent bolts of pleasure from her heels and arches to every cell in her body.
Though she'd tried to resist, she could feel herself growing wet.
She shifted on the seat and tried to scoot back, but he wouldn't let her.
"Uh-uh. I'm still apologizing. Let me."
Now feeling a little silly that she'd blamed him for Brittney's bad behavior, she tugged again.
The gravelly command eased a groan out of her. "Then stop being so sexy."
Her cheeks blazed with heat. God, what a moron. Had she said that out loud? No more wine for her tonight.
His low chuckle eased her nerves. "Good to know you don't see me as a jerk anymore."
"Who said?" She tried to shrug off her gaff. "Jerks can be sexy."
"Now, Sydney. Let's not be mean." To her shock, his hands left her foot and continued up her calf.
The touch felt better than good. Nothing about the caress was sexual, yet her nipples were harder than nails and her panties would need a good washing.
"I swear, I'm not going any higher than this."
Not even if I beg you? She cleared her throat. "Good to know." Damn. That sounded a lot huskier than she'd meant it to.
He smiled again but said nothing more.
He treated her other leg to the same gentle pressure, turning her into a pile of melted yes in minutes.
"Oh, you have no idea."
"I think I do." He suddenly stood, and she stared at the evidence of his erection through his jeans.
Would he make his move? Pressure her to have sex? She wasn't sure she'd say no, and she didn't know how to handle him. Should she be nice and say yes to reward him for good behavior? He had cooked her a terrific meal--or, at least, someone had, since it had been waiting for them when they'd arrived. He'd been an actual entertaining date. Apologetic, charming, polite. She had to check herself to keep from drooling.
And then to touch her like that... He'd drained the day's tension out of her with his hands, while arousing her at the same time.
"Now let's get you home, Syd."
She blinked and let him help her stand. Like Prince Charming, he crouched down and eased her feet into her heels one at a time.
Staring down at his thick hair, she had the urge to run her fingers through it. But she didn't. She didn't know what to think, how to feel. What the hell?
Derrick, as good as his word, walked her out and back to Gage's truck. He drove her to her house without needing directions. Then he walked her to the door.
He handed her a key. "Hailey made sure I had this to give to you. And she's hoping you're not too mad to call her tomorrow and tell her if I acted like a complete ass or not."
She couldn't help laughing. "At least I can get in, and my car's here." The silver vehicle sat in her driveway, good as new.
Derrick raised his hand. She froze. He stroked her cheek with his finger, lingering over her cheekbones and trailing over her lips. "Thanks for dinner, Sydney. It meant a lot to me." He dropped his hand and picked up her limp one. He gave the back of her hand a chaste kiss and took a step back.
To her confusion, he was still aroused, though he seemed in no hurry to remedy the situation.
"Good night." She waved, wondering what he'd do.
He nodded. "Good night." Then he left.