When Grant returned, I could tell any chances of that happening were gone. The relaxed, playful mood we’d been in for most of the evening had vanished, replaced by a wide step and a straight back. His mouth was set in a grim line. I’d have been lying if I said that version of Grant—man of action, FBI agent to the core—wasn’t as much of a turn-on as the softer one.
“I hope you’re the kind of woman who doesn’t get mad when her date walks out halfway through,” he said. There wasn’t nearly as much apology in his voice as I’d have liked, but something about the anxious expression that replaced the crinkles around his eyes put me in a forgiving mood.
“I don’t know what kind of woman I am in that situation. I’ve never had a date walk out on me before.”
The anxious expression lightened a touch, and a surge of pleasure moved through me at having lifted it myself. “Do you feel a strong urge to throw that plate of fettuccini at me?”
I toyed with my fork. “Surprisingly, no.”
“How about the water? Is there a chance it’ll end up in my face?”
“Such juvenile tactics you resort to in times of anger.” I made a soft tsking sound. “If I wanted to seek retribution for the outrage I’ve suffered at your hands, I’d be much more subtle than that. My revenge would be years in the making.”
I got a flash of his teeth, a real smile, before he carefully tucked it away. “That I believe. The bill’s taken care of, and you can feel free to order more dessert while you wait. The cab should be here in about fifteen minutes.”
“Wait—you’re not going to drive me back to town?”
He winced. “I’m really sorry, but I can’t. I shouldn’t even be taking this long to get on my way. We’ll pause the date, okay? Pick up again later?” Pause the date? Was that even allowed?
Some of my annoyance must have shown on my face, because he took two massive strides and pulled me out of my chair, holding me so close, our chests bumped and tingled. Well, his bumped; mine tingled. I’d never wanted any man to touch me as much as I wanted Grant to touch me in that moment. It was impossible not to imagine how the solid weight of his hand would feel sliding between our bodies, skimming my curves, settling on the softest, roundest parts, and staying there for hours.
Something told me that Grant was a thorough man in this, as in all things.
To my shivering delight, his hand did come up, but only to cup the side of my face. His thumb grazed my lips just long enough to trace the outline before falling away again. I couldn’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure a groan of my frustration escaped before he finished.
Then again, the sound could have just as easily come from him.
“I’m sorry. As much as I’d like to bring this date to an end the proper way, I have to run.”
“You aren’t going to tell me why?” I asked.
“You know how it goes. I could tell you, but…” He didn’t have to finish. Then I’d have to kill you.
Despite my frustration—a mounting feeling lodged in my stomach and working like liquid bolts down my thighs— I managed a smile. “Then off you go. Rid the world of thieves and bad guys so it’s safe for the rest of humanity.”
I was careful not to place myself on either side of that equation.
Grant nodded and did a quick survey of the restaurant to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything before heading efficiently out the door. Predictably, it didn’t make a sound as it closed behind him.
As soon as he was gone, I took a moment to make the same survey. The stucco walls, which had seemed so quaint and charming when we’d arrived, now looked dingy. A light in the corner flickered intermittently, and the mandolin music playing softly in the background picked up an almost country twang.
For the first time, I saw this evening as exactly what it was: a half-assed attempt at seduction, a cheap ploy to get information from a woman who was too stupid to know when she was in over her head.
Then the door flew open again, revealing Grant’s dark, impressive profile against the evening sky. He crossed the restaurant without a word and pulled me into his arms. My head tipped back, my lips parted in anticipation, and my body lit up where it touched his.
“F*** it. End of the date or not, I’m kissing you.”
Grant’s mouth crashed over mine in the arrogant, masculine sweep of energy that characterized everything he said and did. I toyed briefly with the idea of feigning outrage or chiding him for going back on his word, but what was the point? I wanted this as much as he did.
Who was I kidding? I wanted it more.