Maggie stared into Ben's dark blue eyes and wondered if he was joking. He didn't look like it. No amusement in that sexy gaze. No I'm-just-kidding-around-with-you expression.
Did he actually think she would let him stay at her apartment?
"No offense or anything, but are you strapped for cash?" she asked with just a tad of hesitance in her tone. The guy's financial status wasn't any of her business, but she had to know.
"No, I'm doing all right in the finance department."
He took a step back, but she still felt the heat radiating from his lean body. The leather jacket he wore didn't emphasize his muscled arms or rippled chest, but she remembered those details well. She wondered if he had any other tattoos she might have missed in the dark. Then she wondered why her thighs trembled at the idea there might be more.
For God's sake, stop checking him out and focus.
Right. It didn't matter how many tattoos he might have hidden on that hard body of his. That was no reason to invite him to stay with her.
"Okay, so you've got money," she said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Which means you can afford to check into a hotel."
"I'd much rather stay with you, Red."
Eyes narrowed, she asked, "Are you in trouble with the law?"
"No. I just need a place to stay."
"Do you always ask so many questions?" he teased.
"When a stranger asks to crash at my place, yes."
"We're not strangers." He moved closer again and dipped his head so they were at eye level. "We've been in bed together, remember?"
He had to bring that up again, didn't he?
"I just don't get why you're asking me this."
He sighed, and his warm breath tickled the bridge of her nose. "Here's the short version, Red. As you now know, I'm somewhat of a celebrity. I haven't slept in days because the press is on my back for a silly scandal they fabricated. This morning they thought I was abducted. The cops gave a statement that I wasn't, but the media is still camped out in front of my house."
"No friends you could call?"
"Friends?" He made a bitter noise that sounded like a cross between a laugh and a snort. "Let me enlighten you about my so-called friends. A guy I grew up with, inseparable since we were six years old, I was best man at his wedding. Last year he sold pictures he had of me from his bachelor party for a cool quarter million. Sound like a friend to you?"
Maggie swallowed. "Ouch." Then, realizing she'd let her sympathy distract her, she said, "Okay, so you've succeeded in making me feel sorry for you."
"I don't expect you to feel sorry--"
"But it doesn't mean you can coax a free bed out of me."
He took a step closer and lowered his head so that his lips brushed her ear. "I doubt you need much coaxing, Red. It's obvious you want me in your bed as much as I want to be there."
"Excuse me?" A spark of anger lit in her stomach at the sheer arrogance dripping from his tone. "Where do you get off?"
A lazy grin spread across his mouth. "Well, last night, I got off while lying in bed thinking about a certain redhead who'd started fondling me."
Heat rolled through her like an avalanche. Had he just said what she thought he did?
"Tonight, though," he added with that wicked grin of his, "I figured maybe we'd get off together."
The arrogance returned to his tone, and her arousal was replaced with another flicker of anger. Guys were never this forward with her, and though his flirting was kind of cute, the way he assumed he could just snap his fingers and get her into bed was almost insulting.
"Look, I get it. You apparently think you're God's gift to women. But let me tell you something, Ben Barrett, I'm not one of those girls who rips off her shirt in the presence of a big celebrity, okay? In fact, the last thing I want to do is get involved with someone like--"
He kissed her.
Just like that. No permission, no warning, he just slammed his hot mouth on hers and kissed her.
If any other man had cut her off like that she would've probably slugged him, but Maggie found herself unable to move under the assault of Ben's lips. Her bones seemed to melt, her limbs flopped around like a wad of Play-Doh being pulled in all directions by the hands of a toddler, and yet she knew, even if her motor skills were functional, she wouldn't be able to pull away anyway.
Like last night, he didn't take the time to be gentle. He parted her lips with his tongue then shoved it inside her mouth, while his hands drifted down to her waist to keep her against him. And just when she began to respond, just when her tongue flicked against his and the fingers of her right hand slid into his dark hair, he pulled back.
And grinned at her.
"Know what that was?" he said cheerfully.
She struggled to catch her breath. "A totally insensitive way to shut me up?"
"Our first fight." He dropped his hands from her hips and stuck them back in his pockets. "So, when are you off work, Red?"
All she could do was stare at him. Were all movie stars this crazy or was it just this particular one?
"I'm done at two," she found herself replying. "Why?"
He ignored the question. "I'll meet you here when you're done. You can give me your answer then."
She swallowed. "My answer?"
"About letting me stay with you."
"I already said--"
He pressed his index finger to her lips, which caused a shiver to dance up her spine. "Think about it. That's all I ask. Give me your answer after you've had a chance to do that." He shot her that cocky smile again. "Not that there's much to think about. You and I both know exactly where I'll be spending the night, don't we, Maggie?"