Never trust a man who says, "Trust me."
I turned to him and he was looking at me, something in his eyes.
He put a hand to my cheek, and for a moment I thought he was going to try to clean any remaining blood away, but then...
His touch. It was gentle, almost imperceptible. Fingertips on my cheek.
His hand moved to cup my jaw, forefinger against the lobe of my ear, a sudden, electrifying touch as his fingertip tugged on my earrings. My response surprised me, my sensitivity unnaturally heightened.
The adrenaline thing, I realized. Was this the fight or flight phenomenon Dean had referred to earlier? Coming down from the adrenaline rush, the aftermath of danger... he'd said it heightened everything: responses and needs.
He kissed me.
His lips tasted of metal, that coppery tang of blood.
His hand slipped round to the side of my head, fingers sliding deep into my hair, gripping and steering me, as his tongue pressed, almost delicately, between my lips.
I pulled away.
I wasn't ready for this. Wasn't ready for him. A man like him.
His hand fell away from my head, knuckles brushing against my thigh. He straightened, moved back from me.
Light flashed in from outside, another car's headlight beam sweeping across us. Our limo was following the convoluted road through this old industrial estate, one in a line of dark cars heading away from the fight.
In that arc of light I saw the tension in Dean's jaws, the dark flash of his look. He clearly wasn't accustomed to being turned down.
I don't know what I'd been going to say, so I fell silent again.
"You can stay," he said. "No strings. It's late, and I guess you don't have anywhere to go, right? That place I took you to before? There's nobody stopping there at the moment. It's a place we keep, just in case. It's yours for as long as you want."
That explained why the house had been so immaculate. Inside, it had felt more like a show-home than somewhere lived in. Was that really a no-strings offer?
I peered at him in the dim light. He had visibly relaxed, as if forcing himself to do so.
I couldn't work out what it was, what he had.
Maybe it was just the adrenaline, coming down from the primitive energy of the fight. Not just Lee's fight, but Dean's too... the way he'd taken the Russian out with a single blow, the way it had taken three of that man Reuben's thugs to subdue him...
Maybe it was as simple as that.
An animal response to danger.
But I knew there was more, too. The complex mix of things that made him what he was. The raw threat of his life, his choices. The protectiveness – the way he'd shielded me from the Russians before, the way he always seemed to be looking out for me, an automatic response for him – but also the chivalry. He was a man who opened doors, who stepped aside for me, who made sure my glass was filled, who made me coffee and talked me down after Russian thugs had waved a gun at me in the street.
And more than anything, it was the way he'd taken my hand back there. Me, a girl who never held hands, a girl who shied away from any kind of display of affection. It had been a protective thing, my hand in his, a sharing of strength and defiance. It had been intimate, a small thing in a big, brash setting.
It had been a statement, one he'd been willing to make in front of those men without hesitation.
She's with me. Don't fuck with that. Ever.
I kissed him.
It was a reversal of his kiss from moments before. It was my hand that went to his blood-smeared cheek, my forefinger that brushed against his earlobe – a brief contact, but one which elicited a brief tensing in response.
I recognized that thrill.
I recognized the taste of his lips when my mouth pressed softly against his, recognized the soft yet firm pressure of his lips.
The roughness of his stubble.
The pressing response of his tongue against mine.
My whole body responded, every sense heightened. Adrenaline or not, I didn't care.
My breasts pressed against him, soft against hard; I felt trapped in the tight constraints of my leather jacket.
More tightness in my belly, and lower down.
He kissed back. After a second or two of hesitation – surprise? – his tongue met mine, pressed and slid.
We twisted to face each other, and his free hand went to my waist, slipping inside my jacket, pulling the fabric of the vest-top suddenly tight.
I became intensely aware of my nipples hardening, pressing against the inside of my bra. Tiny pulses of pleasure, thrilling through me at every touch, every pulling and tightening of clothes, of contact.
He pulled me to him, and I tipped my head back, breaking the kiss to release a long sigh that was almost a moan.
Instantly, his mouth went to my jaw. The scrape of his stubble was electrifying, the scrape of his teeth against the taut skin of my neck, the press of his lips and tongue...
The hand moved up across my ribcage, thumb finding the swell of a breast, sliding around the contour.
He moved to cup that breast, thumb against the hardness of my nipple through the layers of top and bra.
I was gasping now. I couldn't remember feeling so turned on – so urgently, so abruptly.
I reached for him, trapping the hand under my moving arm so that it squashed the softness of my breast.
I found his jacket, pushed it aside. His shirt – so thin and insubstantial!
I ran the back of my hand across his ribs, the hardness of a tiny nipple; found his neck-tie and gripped the knot, pulling him even harder against me.
Just then, the car bumped over a ridge in the roadway.
I pulled away a little, turned to look forward. The driver seemed oblivious to us – either genuinely so, or he was the model of discretion.
I still had a hold of Dean's tie, and now I pulled him to me again.
//end of extract//