Midnight Man (Midnight #1)

“You want to know what I think? I think you’re…aroused.”

She looked around wildly, hoping to anchor herself with something other than John Huntington, his voice and his hands. But he eclipsed everything and all she could see was his face above her, watching her as intently as any predator ever watched its prey.

His thumb stroked her nipple, his eyes watching hers. She whimpered softly and bit her lip.

“And I—“ He took her hand tightly and—shockingly—placed it over his groin. “I’m aroused too,” he finished in a rough whisper.

His penis felt like a steel bar, only alive and warm. She realized she had tightened her grip over him only when his eyes shuttered tight and his breath came in on a hiss. His penis jumped under her hand and became, impossibly, longer and harder.

Suzanne’s hand fluttered open and she jerked it back. She folded her trembling hands on the table and stared at them. She should say something. She knew she should say something but absolutely nothing came to mind.

This was far outside the bounds of anything in her experience with men. She’d been on plenty of first dates and this was totally outside her experience, way beyond what she considered normal female-male communication.

This wasn’t even supposed to be a date. They should be having a nice business dinner while discussing the details of his lease.

They should be talking about her design for his office and his plans for a new security system. They should be talking terms and utilities. Maybe with a little low key flirting under the businesslike adult conversation.

That was allowed. He was a powerfully attractive man. A very…male man. A gentle little frisson of attraction was okay. A mild flirtatious little flurry.

Not this gale force wind that threatened to blow her over.

He was sitting so close to her she could feel his body heat. A fully aroused powerful male who somehow had the capacity to make her feel as if they were alone in a cave somewhere instead of in a crowded and civilized restaurant.

Suzanne knew that somewhere out there, past his impossibly broad shoulders, was a room full of diners having a good time, eating well, and conversing in normal tones. None of it penetrated. There was just the two of them, both aroused.

He was perfectly right.

She could still feel his touch on her breast, though he’d dropped his hand. Her nipple—both nipples, actually—ached. She ached between her thighs, and knew that she’d turned wet. She’d been less aroused than this while actually making love with other men.

And the tactile memory of his penis filling her palm, hot and iron hard, swelling even larger under her touch, lingered in her hand.

It was so unlike her. Suzanne Barron didn’t do sex. Not like this. Not hot and raw and so uncontrolled she’d basically fondled a man at a restaurant table.

She took a deep breath. “We need—“ she licked her dry lips. Don’t think about what we need. “We need to, um, talk. To talk about that new security system. And—and decorating your office, if you’d like me to take care of that.”

“Okay.” The heat in his eyes didn’t die down and his voice was still husky with arousal. “Let’s talk.”

If she’d expected him to lean back and change body language, she was mistaken. A heavy forearm lay on the table in front of her. With his other arm around the back of the settee, she was still surrounded by large, warm male.

She moved, and her breast brushed his arm. A muscle in his jaw jumped.

She froze.

He drew in a deep breath. “Okay, security. The first thing you need to do is arrange for better lighting outside the building, particularly the entrance.” He scowled at her. “I can’t believe you live in the Pearl district and haven’t taken care of any of this.”

Suzanne frowned. “The entrance is lit,” she protested. She’d designed the lights herself. Crystal and wrought iron in a tulip pattern.

He looked at her pityingly. “Hundred watt globes over the doorway are not what I’d call security lighting. That wattage is totally wasted, with the light going up and sideways. You don’t need to light up the sky. You need light where it will do you the most good. What you’ve got now is pure glare that casts shadows a street punk can hide behind and ruins your night adaptation when you walk out to put out the garbage.”

That kind of thinking had never even occurred to her. And never would. Not in a million years. She opened her mouth and closed it. Opened it again. “Oh.”

“What you need,” he continued, “is a metal halide light with no uplight and no glare. I’m going to install infrared sensor spotlights that come on only when someone walks into the viewfield of the security detectors. It’s very effective for scaring intruders away.”

This was an entirely new world. “Oh,” she said again. “Okay.”

He wasn’t finished. “You’ll also need motion sensors and to put your sound system on a timer so that there’s music when we’re out of the building.”

Motion sensors. Halide lights. Detectors. “I don’t know,” she said uneasily. “All of that sounds expensive.”

“Don’t worry about it. What you designed for me will more than compensate for that.”

“I didn’t design it for you, specifically,” she protested. “I was just doodling one day while I was sitting in the empty rooms. And I felt—“ felt you were coming. She blew out a breath. “Felt it would make a good space for a business,” she finished.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, his deep voice quiet.

She gave him a startled glance.

“I’m only a sailor. Ex-sailor,” he added wryly. “But I’m not blind and I’m not dead. What I saw was exquisite. And functional.”

She smiled, flattered. “Thank you. That’s precisely what good interior design is all about. When you tell me a little more about how your business works, I could probably improve on the drawings you saw."

“You’ll have plenty of time to see how my business works.” His eyes bored into hers. “I’ll be living and working right across the hall from you.”

The thought of it took her breath away. He was such a powerful presence. How on earth was she going to be able to concentrate on her work knowing he was just a hallway away?

Suzanne picked up the dessert fork and started tracing designs on the linen tablecloth. “It must have been hard to make the switch from the military to the business world. Bud told me you retired on a disability?”

She looked up briefly. Disability. It was so hard even to imagine the word disability in connection with this man. Hard, strong, tough. He looked like he could take on the world.

“Mmm.” Clearly, he wasn’t going to discuss anything pertaining to his injury. “It’s funny. When I was in the service, I couldn’t imagine any other life.” He gave a half-laugh. “Shit—sorry, I’m too used to spending all my time with men, I know I have to clean up my language. Anyway, most of my life I didn’t know any other life. I grew up a Navy brat and then spent my entire adulthood in the Navy. So, yeah, a lot of things are new. But you know? I’m looking forward to this new stage. I’m looking forward to building my business and to putting down roots. To having a home.” His dark eyes—what was that color? The lights were too dim to tell—pinned her. “That’s thanks to you. I’ve never lived in quarters like what you designed for me before.”

Suzanne ducked her head. She’d received praise for her work before. She’d even won a prize for the design of a small museum. But nothing—nothing had meant as much to her as his quiet words.

She cleared her throat. “Well…wait until you see it done before saying that. You might not like the finished product.”

“I’ll like it.” The deep voice was even, certain. “You about ready to go?”

Surprised, Suzanne looked around. The fire in the huge open hearth was burning low. Most of the restaurant’s customers had gone. There were only a few couples left, sitting close together. Lovers. Only lovers were left. “Er…yes.”

She looked down and saw that her plate was still full. All she’d done was push the food around, taking a few tiny bites. Amazing. She’d spent the entire evening at Comme Chez Soi—where the appetizers alone cost $25 and were worth every penny—and hadn’t eaten.

Suzanne patted her lips with a napkin, suddenly nervous. Suddenly completely, totally aware of the fact that he was going to drive her home. Walk her up to the front door of the building, maybe inside to the front door of her apartment and…

Their eyes met and her heart lurched. “Let’s get you home,” he said quietly, standing up and offering her his hand.

He seemed to have some magical powers or the ability to communicate telepathically because without giving any overt signs, the waiters brought their coats and he was ushering her out with a large, warm hand at her back more quickly than she would have thought possible.

“Ah, John?” They were at the door.

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