“Enjoying yourself?” he asks as he looks down at me. It’s almost a magical moment as his hand splays across my lower back, his thumb rubbing my skin. His other hand clasps mine and he holds me intimately close. I feel like a princess.
“Very much,” I admit to him. “Thank you for bringing me.”
“Thank you for coming,” he says back politely, but his voice is a low rumble that sounds sexy as hell and makes me want to pull him into the bathroom and take advantage of him.
I try to make sure our relationship stays where he wants it to so I can’t get any expectations that would later be dashed, reminding myself I am his employee first and foremost. “It was a pleasurable part of my job to accompany you.”
Jerico stares at me a moment, his expression flummoxed. But then he grumbles, “You and I both know damn well it’s not part of your job. It’s a fucking date.”
I’m completely shocked by his renunciation, which is hilarious. I laugh playfully as I look up at him. “Well, try not to sound so put out by it.”
He growls what might be a string of curses, but they’re cut off as his mouth connects with mine. It’s a hot kiss but not erotic. One of those where his open mouth moves slowly over mine, yet only our lips touch. It’s sweet and intimate and… caring?
When he pulls back, he looks a little off-kilter as if he can’t believe he just did that. I’ve always known Jerico is the type of man who doesn’t commit for the long term, and he looks almost spooked right now.
I immediately start back up conversation. “Okay, don’t you think it’s about time given all the dirty, filthy things I’ve let you do to me that you tell me a little something about your background? Like what were you like growing up and did you have a dog? Oh, and how did you come to live in Las Vegas?”
I hold my breath, wondering if Jerico will shut down on me. Instead, he gives me a smile that’s filled with fondness for his past. “You know I’m from New Hampshire already and I don’t have a big family, but I was extremely close to my mom and dad. My dad was a carpenter and my mom ran a home business making and selling soaps.”
I smile because of the tone of affection in his voice for his parents.
“After I got out of the military and decided to start my own private contracting company, I looked at a lot of places to put down the company’s roots. I considered places like D.C. or New York City, but ultimately decided on Vegas because there’s a lot of private wealth here and need for security services. And for the government stuff, we don’t need to be in Washington to communicate with them. In fact, they come here to us if they have a mission they want us to bid on.”
“Do you miss New Hampshire?” I ask him.
“Yeah… I miss the snow and how gorgeous it is in the fall. I go back once in a blue moon on vacation, but it’s hard to take time off. And with my parents gone, it’s not the same.”
“I bet,” I say softly as I slide my hand from his shoulder to his neck. I stroke my thumb there in commiseration.
“What about you?” he asks, and this surprises me. While I’m all kinds of nosy because I happen to just like Jerico on a personal basis, I always sort of felt he didn’t need to know anything about me. “You’ve told me about Corinne, and your mom seems nice, but what was it like growing up here?”
“Well, Vegas is my hometown, although the Vegas I live in isn’t the glitzy strip. I don’t go there very often.”
“What about your dad?” Jerico prods.
I give a little shrug as I turn my gaze over Jerico’s shoulder. It’s a bit of a sore subject. “He took off when I was about two and never came back. Left my mom for another woman.”
“Jayce’s mom?” Jerico asks so I have to look back to him. His eyebrows are furrowed in confusion.
I give a sardonic smile, because it is a bit confusing. “My mom was married first to a man named Eldridge. They had Danielle, but he split before she turned one. Mom then met and married Jayce’s dad, Vince, within like six months after her divorce. He had Jayce already. Jayce was about three years old when Vince married my mom. Jayce’s mom was apparently on drugs and unstable. They had me three years later.”
“So you and Jayce share the same father, but you and Danielle share the same mother?” he states for clarification.
“I have this whole chart with a colored graph I can show you,” I quip, loving the way his eyes drop to my mouth as my lips purse up. “Even I get confused sometime.”