A slow song came on the radio, and when Ric smiled at her, Katie's resolve faltered. Don't ask me to dance, she prayed.
He held out a hand and she didn't know what to do. Her hesitation must have been obvious because Ric looked at her meaningfully and cajoled, "It's just a dance, Katie. We've done it before."
Of course. At the country club. They were teenagers and two out of a handful of young people there. Occasionally, they'd be pressed into dancing. It hadn't been unpleasant. But Ric hadn't raised her temperature then, not as he did now.
She took his hand and her body shivered as he took her into his arms. His hand pressed against her waist, drawing her closer as they circled the floor with tiny steps. Beat by beat, all her resolve melted until she leaned into him, her head resting lightly on his right shoulder. He brought their hands in so they rested on his chest, and she felt the erratic beating of his heart against her fingers. His body was warm and hard and for the first time in years, Katie felt a security there, like she was cherished and protected.
It was easy to rest here, to let herself forget how hard it was to prove herself. She forgot all the disparaging words and skeptical looks when she said she was starting her own business. She could escape that loathsome title--Girl Most Likely to Have Fun--and simply be Katie, the woman. She hadn't ever been that person before, and it filled her with sweetness.
The song ended, but she was still in his arms, her eyes closed, feeling his chest rise and fall with his breathing as their feet still shuffled along. The DJ droned on and commercials blared through the speakers, but it didn't register. Ric dropped his head and she felt his lips against her hair as he kissed the top of her dusty head.
"Katie," he whispered. Without warning, he dipped his head further and captured her lips with his.
They were warm and persuasive, tinted with the taste of iced tea. His tongue slipped inside and she met it, letting him take the lead and following willingly. Their feet stopped moving and they stood still while her arms slid up over his shoulder blades.
It was all she'd imagined, and more. He was firm but gentle, solid and sure, and his quiet command of her mouth made her feel more feminine than she had in a long time. Kissing Ric just fit.