Was she staring at his mouth or was that wishful thinking?
“Um…” Her cheeks were the color of cotton candy. “I’m not just sorry about the extra work. I’m sorry about not answering your texts. The way I ran out the other day…”
“I pushed it. That’s on me.”
“No.” She shook her head. “No, asking to come see me dance was totally normal. Sweet, actually. I’m the one who acted weird.” She looked like she wanted to say more, so he waited. Watched her pace around his workspace, hands tucking and untucking themselves into the pockets of her skirt. “I guess I feel some pressure, you know? To make the most of this opportunity to dance.”
“Is the pressure coming from you?”
“Mostly. Yes. Investing all this time in something and not seeing it through. I guess that kind of scares me. I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want my mom…to have them, either. Not that she would even allow herself to have them. Out loud. She’s such a good mom. A friend, too. But…” The light sheen in Reese’s eyes gave him the overwhelming urge to hold her. “When my father left, she rebuilt her whole life around this thing I love. I don’t want her to feel like she wasted her time. I want her to say…it was worth every second.”
“Reese…” It took his full effort to remain where he was standing. “You are making every second count. No one could say you’re not seizing the opportunity.”
She looked down at her feet. “There’s always someone better. I’m just…I can barely keep up. That’s the truth.” She wet her lips, lifted her eyes to him. “I just want to make sure I’m giving it everything, you know? It’s a constant push just to be decent.”
Leo’s throat was too dry for swallowing. “I hope you weren’t worried about me coming to watch you and being underwhelmed.”
“I wasn’t. I don’t worry about anything bad when it comes to you. You’re so…solid.”
She blinked, as if realizing she’d revealed too much.
Maybe she had, because that admission had his pulse slamming into his jugular.
“Reese,” he rasped. “Stop avoiding me. If you’re here now, you don’t really want to.”
“Of course I don’t want to. Wednesday was…”
“Wednesday,” he growled. Rein it in. The last thing he wanted to do was give her another reason to get skittish. At the same time, he wanted to make plans. He wanted to make plans with this girl. “What are you comfortable with, Reese? With…us.”
“Us,” she repeated. “What are my options?”
“How about I give you one option. If you don’t like it, I’ll come up with another.”
She blew out a breath. “Okay.”
Leo took a stride in her direction, noting the way her pupils dilated, her lips parting slightly. And knowing he wasn’t the only one who was under this intense physical pull gave him some added confidence. But not so much that he lost sight of Reese’s reservations. She didn’t want a distraction from her career. So he’d minimize the risk of that. Let it happen at her pace even if it killed him. “For now, we do this one day at a time. Tonight, I take you out to dinner. Tomorrow, you decide if it’s dance that needs your attention.” Slowly, he backed her up against the industrial refrigerator, cupping her jaw and tilting her head back. “Or if you want to let me give you some attention.”
“You give really good attention,” she whispered, fingers curling in his apron.
Their mouths melted together like warm chocolate meeting melted marshmallow, just sinking right in, mixing needs and becoming indistinguishable. He held his lust in check and let the kiss take its own course. At least until Reese twined her arms around his neck, going up on tiptoes and aligning her hips with his lap, both of them inhaling at the contact of their sexes. Hard on soft. Both of them remembering what he felt like inside of her.
What it felt like to fuck each other.
“More,” she breathed.
“Goddamn. Missed you.” Leo flattened her roughly against the refrigerator, his tongue sinking deeper, his hand climbing upward beneath the back of her skirt, getting a tight handful of her sweet ass, kneading it like he would—
The swinging door flew open.
“Leo,” Jackie started, clapping a hand over her mouth when she saw them in a compromising position. The door behind her slapped shut again. Just not before several customers took pictures with their phones, gasping and whispering to one another. “I’m so, so sorry…” Jackie said, backing out of the room. “I didn’t see you come in, Reese.”
“It’s okay,” Reese said, her inability to catch her breath giving him way too much satisfaction. “Hi Jackie. I-I was, um…”
“We were talking about going to dinner,” Leo continued the sentence for Reese quietly, studying her reaction up close. “If Reese doesn’t have any plans.”
A conflict waged itself on her face, followed by…something. Like maybe she couldn’t help but say yes, same way he couldn’t help thinking about her. Wanting her. Like maybe there was nothing one-sided about these extraordinary feelings whatsoever. A man could hope.
“Okay,” she said, closing her eyes. “Let’s go to dinner.”
This was a nice restaurant.
One that Reese probably couldn’t afford if she wanted to eat for the next week. Her step faltered on the way through the entrance, the thin bills in her wallet shrieking in terror. It was located in the basement level of a brownstone in Midtown. Low ceilings, dim lighting, eclectic décor. Because it was Saturday night, the place was packed, mere inches of space between the tables. Conversations were loud to compete with the buzzy music.
“Oh…” She tugged on Leo’s hand, which she’d been holding on the walk east. “You know, we can just go grab a slice. They probably don’t have a table…”
“Leo!” A young man threaded his way toward them through the crowd, his T-shirt rolled high on his arms to show off his tattoo sleeves. “You’re actually here to eat?” he yelled, when he reached them, noting Leo and Reese’s intertwined fingers with interest.