The tingle started deep inside her. No tingling, she told herself firmly. Stop the tingling. But his jacket felt wonderful against her skin, the lining still warm from his body. It smelled of pine trees, warm leather, and man. It felt as if she were enveloped in his essence. Acutely aware of the man behind her, she led the way to her car.
Thinking it best to get away, she turned to face him. “Look, you don’t have to see me home. I can manage to drive myself. Thanks anyway.” Reluctantly, she shrugged out of the jacket. He reached up, settled the jacket firmly back on her shoulders, and turned her to face him. Using his hold on the jacket, he drew her closer.
“Look,” he said. “It’s best you understand a few things from the start. You will do whatever Damien or I tell you. No questions. No arguments. Some of the things we ask you to do may seem stupid or unimportant, but you will do them anyway. It’s not only your sister’s life that’s in danger. It’s all our lives and the lives of people you don’t even know about. Damien told me to escort you home. He told you to let me escort you. Now, give me your keys.”
He let go of the lapels and she fell back against the car. He reached over to help her back up, but she shook off his hand.
She opened her purse. “I’ll drive.”
“No,” Jacob said in a patient tone. “You still don’t understand.” He held out his hand.
“Give me your keys.”
Eleanor thought about the mace in her pocket. It would give her so much pleasure to let this pompous, macho ass have a shot in the face. She thought better of it after looking into his determined eyes. Now was not the time to challenge this guy. Not alone in the dark night. Digging the keys out of her purse, she handed them over.
“How will you get back?”
“No questions, remember?”
Walking around to the passenger’s side, she was surprised to find Jacob had followed her. He unlocked the door and held it open. Trying to keep the tingle down, she kept as much distance as possible as she scrambled in. He startled her when he bent over, reached down, and tucked her trailing purse strap inside the car. My, my, she thought, what a gentleman. A nervous flutter ran through her. She would be alone with this man for at least half an hour. It was a small car, too small for that big a man.
Eleanor hid a smile as he tried to fit himself behind the wheel. Sometimes being five-foot-five was fun. He made an exasperated noise, fumbled for the release, and moved the seat back as far as it would go.
Once they were on the road she tried again. “Can I please ask some questions?”
“You can ask,” Jacob said, implying he wouldn’t answer.
“What is Damien?”
“Damien gave you an answer. You won’t get anything else out of me.”
“But don’t you think it will help if I know what I’m walking into tomorrow night?”
“That’s where the whole ‘no questions, no arguments’ plan comes in.”
They pulled into her driveway before she realized she was close to home. She didn’t wait for him to open her door, but hopped out quickly. “Thanks for escorting me home. Not that I needed escorting, you understand. I’ve been escorting myself for quite some time.”
“What a shame,” he said, looking deeply into her eyes.
That tingle was back. This man was truly dangerous. His voice and eyes were weapons. She pushed back the tingle and walked to the front door. When she turned to hand him his jacket, she saw Bobby’s Mustang coming down her street.
“Oh, God. There’s Bobby. I don’t want him involved in this. Who do I tell him you are?”
Jacob shrugged into his jacket and looked down the street at Bobby’s car. “Boyfriend?”
“No, best friend.”
He turned back to Eleanor and looked into her eyes. A mischievous grin spread over his face. She took that as a bad sign. His hand rose to cup her cheek. He slid his thumb across her bottom lip as his other arm pulled her to him. His eyes followed the path of his thumb as it moved slowly back and forth across her lip.
The tingle she’d been feeling turned into a flood of passion. She’d never felt anything like it. It was as if there was an invisible string from his thumb to her very center. Each gentle stroke sent waves of pleasure through her.
He moved his thumb away and lowered his head. His tongue took over for his thumb. Gentle little licks, accentuated by nips from his teeth.
Eleanor’s arms wrapped around his neck and she pulled him closer.
His lips danced across hers, nibbling, sucking, teasing her mouth open. When his tongue slipped between her teeth, she tasted coffee and chocolate, two of her favorite things. He deepened the kiss, tightening his arms around her. She felt so many sensations it made her dizzy. The feel of his tongue sparing with hers, his hands rubbing up and down her back, his smell of leather and pine trees, the way his hard body was pressed against hers; all filled her senses to overload. What was happening to her? Did she care? No. Letting go, she plunged herself into the kiss, body and soul.
He pulled away and set her back on her feet.
Eleanor made a sound of protest before she could stop herself. “There,” he said, grinning and putting her keys in her hand. “That ought to give the two of you enough to talk about. Don’t be late tomorrow night.”