“Dance with me first.”
Her eyes widened and she sent a startled look to the dance floor. “If you think I suck at darts, you should see me on the dance floor. I’m a really bad dancer.”
“So am I.”
She rolled her eyes. “Like I’m supposed to believe you’re bad at anything.”
He flashed a smile. “How will you know unless you give me a shot?”
“That’s one thing I really shouldn’t do.”
“Chicken?” he asked softly.
She narrowed her eyes. “Never.” And then she stomped off to the dance floor.
He caught up with her just as the music changed, slowed. Slipping an arm around her waist, he pulled her in, tucking that wayward lock of hair behind her ear.
“Cold?” he asked, running his free hand along her arm, urging it up to slip around his neck.
“No.” Her warm breath brushed his jaw as she stepped into him. “I’m starting to think you’re a little like that chocolate bar I keep in my fridge for emergencies.”
“Bad for me.”
He laughed and let the music drift over them, enjoying the feel of her warm, soft body against his, the way she gripped him tight, one hand at the back of his neck, the other at the small of his back, fisted in his shirt. He could feel her heart pounding against his but it wasn’t until she trembled that he tipped her head up.
She shook her head at his unasked question. “Okay, maybe you’re also a little irresistible,” she murmured. “It’s just that you’re always so . . .”
He turned his palm up and entwined their fingers together, bringing their joined hands to his mouth as they swayed in sync to the music, her steps unsure and too fast. He matched her steps to his, slowing her down, looking into her eyes.
“You’re scared,” he realized, not talking about dancing anymore.
“Terrified,” she confessed. She wasn’t talking about dancing either. “Join me, won’t you?”
“There’s nothing to fear here, Willa.”
“Because we’re just two consenting adults who are hugely attracted to one another, and we both know the score. No falling. Just some good, old-fashioned fun.” Her huge eyes blinked up at his. “Right?”
“Right,” he murmured against her lips. “But you forgot something.”
“You do make me laugh, and I dig that. So yes to the fun, but, Willa, nothing I feel about you is old-fashioned.” He ran the tips of his fingers lightly down her back until they came to a stop at the low waistband of her jeans, stroking the bare skin between the hem of her sweater and the denim. Another shudder wracked her and he pulled her even closer to him, their bodies forming an unbroken line from chest to toe.
Closing her eyes, she sighed softly and tipped her face up to his. As he lowered his mouth to hers, she parted her lips for his eagerly. He swallowed her soft moan, rocking her in tune to the music as they kissed. “You do so know how to dance,” she accused softly.
His hands traveled up her slim spine. “I know other things too. Like how much I want to touch you.”
She laughed nervously. “Keane—”
“Shh,” he whispered into her hair. “Later.”
Both the street and courtyard doors of the pub were closed to the winter air, but every time someone came in or out, a breeze whisked through, brushing over their heated skin.
When the song ended, Keane tipped Willa’s face up to meet his, rasping his thumb over her lower lip. “Thanks for showing me how to dance.”
She sank her teeth into the pad of his thumb just hard enough to sting, making him laugh.
She was as dangerous as Pita.
The air around them crackled, much the way it had around Archer and Elle earlier, the heat between them pulsing and ebbing in the crowded pub. But unlike Archer and Elle, Keane knew exactly what it was.
“I really do have to go,” Willa said.
“I’ll walk you up.”
“That’s . . .” Her gaze fell to his mouth. “Probably a bad idea.”
He had to smile. “There’s no doubt.” If she wanted him to push her on this issue, she was going to be disappointed. It wasn’t his style to push. When they slept together—and God, he really hoped that was going to happen—it would be because she wanted him and she was ready, and not because he talked her into it. So he took her hand and they walked out into the courtyard.
There really was a whole lot of Christmas going on out here. The fountain misted softly in the evening chill, lit red and green from the lights.
Old Man Eddie was out here, manning the fire pit. He pulled a sprig of mistletoe from his pocket and tossed it to Willa.
In return, she handed him her leftovers. “Wings,” she said. “Extra sauce.”
“Thanks, darlin’. I love my lights. Meant a lot that you’d do that for me.”
“Anything,” Willa said.
And Keane knew she meant it. It was part of what made her special, and different from just about anyone he’d ever known. She really would give a stranger the shirt off her back.
In the stairwell, Keane met her gaze. “You have plans for that mistletoe?”
She smiled but waited until she was at the top of the stairs, turning to walk backward toward her apartment as she flashed him a grin. “Some things a man should find out for himself.”
He caught her at her door and pushed her up against it. He had no idea if they were going to push their limits or what, but he wanted her to think of him after he walked away. To that end, he wrapped his fingers around her wrist, the one still holding the sprig of mistletoe, and raised it slowly up the wall until it was above her head, held to the wall by both of them.
Then he lowered his head and brushed her mouth with his. And then—to torture them both—again.
Moaning, she dropped the mistletoe and tugged her hand free to grip the front of his shirt with two fists. She was still holding tight when he lifted his head.
“It’s the damn mistletoe,” she whispered.
He let out a low laugh. “Babe, it’s not the mistletoe.”