She turned in her chair, letting her knee rub along the inside of Brent’s thigh, doing an internal fist-pump when he sucked in a breath. “That’s not it at all, Brent. I just don’t like waiting.” Garnering her courage, she dragged her fingers up the inside of his arm. “You wouldn’t happen to have your handcuffs handy, would you?”
He dragged his heated gaze away from her fingers. “If you like being cuffed, I have no problem accommodating you, baby.”
“Actually,” she returned, drawing the word out, “I was thinking I would cuff you.”
She held her breath. Any minute now, he’d scoff at her request and this charade would be over. Funny, she wasn’t quite as ready to walk away as she had been moments ago. In fact, the thought of Brent’s big body, restrained by handcuffs, was surprisingly appealing. That fluttering in her stomach had graduated into a constant tug, confusing her further.
“Done.” Hayden hid her shock as Brent leaned close and spoke gruffly near her ear. “Be warned, though. If you take away the use of my hands, I’ll only make up for it with my mouth.”
“R-really?” Her voice sounded breathy to her own ears. It simply wasn’t possible that Brent was turning her on. She shouldn’t have drunk so much wine without eating a proper dinner. That was the only explanation for her body’s potent reaction to Brent’s words.
“Why does that surprise you, duchess?” His expression turned patronizing, but she could still see the desire kindling in his eyes, the way they fixated on her mouth. “You think because I don’t wear a suit to work, I haven’t learned how to pleasure a woman?”
A punch of heat reverberated through her system, layered on top of the indignation brought on by his jab. He couldn’t mean it. He didn’t give a damn about her pleasure. No, they were both simply playing the game. When it came time to put the handcuffs on, he would back down. No way would he put himself at his enemy’s mercy. “I guess we’ll find out if you’re capable of shutting up long enough to use your mouth for something worthwhile.”
“Will we?” He gripped her knees in his hands. “You going uncross these sexy thighs long enough to find out what I can do between them?”
As her heart began to pound out of control, it occurred to her that she might lose this battle. Brent didn’t appear any closer to caving, and they were drawing dangerously close to the end of the line. This conversation couldn’t continue in its current vein much longer without them leaving together. Judging from his expression, he still expected her to cry uncle. Clearly skeptical of her ability to follow through.
Time for a change of strategy.
She uncrossed her legs and stood, putting her breasts just beneath his line of vision. When his confident smile slipped a little, she swallowed a triumphant laugh. “I’m tired of talking about it.” Her fingers slipped through his hair and clutched tight. “Put up or shut up, big boy.”
“Big boy.” When Brent stood, his hard body dragged slowly over her curves, catching Hayden’s breath in her throat. “You have no idea. Think you can handle me?”
Could she handle him? He didn’t look like the type to be handled by anyone. Least of all her, who could count her sexual partners on one carefully manicured hand. At least if it got that far—which it surely wouldn’t—she’d have a much easier time handling him if he didn’t have the use of his hands.
Throat tight and unable to issue a verbal response, Hayden turned and walked toward the exit in lieu of answering out loud. Brent’s heavy tread followed purposefully behind her, sending a shiver up her spine. With each step toward the door, she grew less and less sure of whether anticipation or nerves were the culprit.
They rode in silence on the crosstown drive from Quincy’s, although the tense atmosphere in Brent’s SUV spoke volumes. Her decision-making window was rapidly closing. It had been incredibly easy to talk a big game while sitting in Quincy’s. Now, however, her bravado was beginning to wane.
She let her gaze slide across the center console to inspect the man taking up well over his fair share of the SUV. Powerful thighs flexed beneath the steering wheel as he applied the brake. Defined arm muscles shifted as he took a right turn. His shoulders were so broad they bridged the console and nearly touched her own.
Most infuriating of all, a cocky, knowing smile played around his lips like he expected her to back out at any minute. If she admitted to bluffing him now, he would never let her live it down. She’d be doomed to see that shit-eating grin every time they met. Nope. Couldn’t let it happen. One way or another, the big guy was going down.