“I came straight from the office.” He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it over a chair in the corner. “Come on, Gandalf.” He sat and patted the space between them on the sofa and the cat leaped up, purring in high gear.
In keeping with their routine, she picked up the remote and turned on the TV, settling right away on an old thriller with Jimmy Stewart. She’d seen it before, but couldn’t remember the name.
“You’re going to get cat hair on your suit,” she said as Gandy draped his front half over Eric’s thigh.
“What occupation is that?”
“Uh. Professional cat petter, I guess.” He grinned.
“Professional cat petter beats being a lawyer.”
He shook his head, still stroking Gandy. “Nope. Nothing beats being a lawyer.”
Man, he was lucky to love his job. She always thought she’d warm up to it, but never had. On the TV, a man in a full-leg cast watched his neighbor from his wheelchair, using a camera with a huge lens.
She grabbed a handful of popcorn and chewed a few pieces, not tasting it, then muted the TV and swiveled to face him. “I really need to know why you cancelled on me tonight.”
His expression remained completely neutral. “Because I had lots of work to do.”
“You already pushed the Anderson deal through.”
“And now there’s the Smith Steel merger.”
Part of her was hugely relieved. She’d had a suspicion he was sick of her. That whatever it was that caused every man to send Dear Jane texts had finally hit him. The other part was disappointed movie night wasn’t as special to him as it was to her and he’d ditch it for work.
The gorgeous blonde woman in the movie unpacked a tiny suitcase containing only a frilly nighty and bedroom slippers, making a big show of it for the man in the wheelchair. She wondered if Eric would find work as interesting if she pulled something like that out during their lunch in his office.
With her luck, probably.
He reached for his beer. “So, why did you cancel your date with Aldo?”
“I don’t know.”
“Objection.” He lifted the cat’s face by the chin. “Judge Gandalf, the witness is being uncooperative.”
“Objection overruled. The witness is answering to the best of her ability.” Which was a straight-up lie. She’d cancelled because she was sick of kidding herself. The only good thing in her life right now was Eric, and he’d cancelled on her. What was the purpose of a pointless date without the debriefing from Eric afterward?
“Perjury carries a huge penalty. Sometimes even a jail sentence.” His expression was tender. “Why did you cancel, Jane?” He covered the cat’s ears and whispered, “Off the record.”
“I…” Well, shit. What could she say without letting on she’d fallen for him? That every time a date fell through, she was relieved because she’d be seeing him that much sooner. That if he weren’t a lawyer, she’d have jumped him weeks ago—hopefully without knocking anything over or setting a table on fire.
He leaned close enough for her to smell starch and aftershave. “Is it because you’re afraid of failure? This first-date-only losing streak you have going is bound to break soon.”
“It’s not that.” Her heart hammered in her throat at his nearness and her whole body heated. All she had to do was turn her head and their lips would meet.
“What is it, then?” He tucked her hair behind her ear and his breath fanned across her neck, causing her lower body to tighten.
She heard Kim Zimmerman’s voice in her head. “Act from your heart.”
And just like that, she summoned the courage to do what she’d wanted to do since she met him. She placed her hands on either side of his face and pressed her mouth to his. Lightly. Tentatively.
He didn’t kiss her back, but he didn’t pull away or freak out, either, so she traced his lips with her tongue, willing him to kiss her back.
And that did the trick because, man, oh, man, did he kiss her back. With a groan, he twined his fingers through the hair at the base of her skull and tilted her head, then took her mouth, his tongue sliding along hers, tasting, testing, making her light-headed. This man drove her crazy, and she wanted more of him. She ran her hands over his shoulders, pulling him closer, and he made a gratified sound, deep in this throat, fingers tightening in her hair as he kissed her with so much intensity and passion, it left her dizzy and gasping for breath.
“Shit, Jane,” he said with a smile, gasping for air himself.
Between them, Gandy grumbled.
“Sorry, Judge.” He nudged Gandy off the couch. “Court adjourned. No need for further litigation. I think both parties have reached a satisfactory agreement.” The cat jumped up into his box with a parting glare.
“Watch it,” she teased, “or Judge Gandy might slap you with a Disorderly Conduct charge.”
“You can count on it, counselor,” he said, loosening his tie. “Disorderly…” He pulled her into his lap sideways, placing her over the hard bulge in his pants. “Reckless…” His lips met hers again, and she moaned as their tongues tangled and his hands roamed up and down her back. “But completely justifiable.” He tugged the bottom of her T-shirt free from her jeans. “Because Jane Dixon…” Off went the shirt over her head. He stilled for a moment, taking her in from her navel to her purple lace bra to her face. “Because you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and no jury in the world would convict me for wanting to kiss you.” He delivered another breath-stealing kiss. “Or touch you.” He trailed the fingers of one hand up her belly, causing a riot of sensation that made her squirm in his lap. He brushed along the undersides of her breasts, then traced the lace pattern of her bra, circling one nipple, then the other. “Or taste you.”
Holy shit. She’d been totally right that first day about him being full of surprises. Jane held on for dear life as he ran his lips down her neck and between her breasts, kissing as he went. “What about…” Her brain shut off as he took a nipple in his mouth and spikes of heat shot from where he worked his tongue in a slow, deliberate circle, to low in her belly.
He stopped long enough to say, “What about what?” before moving to the other breast.