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Jasmine lifted an elegant brow. "Compliments, Walker? I do not remember that you were so flattering the last time we spoke."
"Yeah, I was hard on you." Hands still in his pocket, he strolled over to her, noted her almost imperceptible reaction when he deliberately invaded her space. She was only a few inches shorter than him, but he dwarfed her when he stood this close. She was incredibly feminine, with a delicate bone structure. It was an effective disguise for a woman trained to kill a man in half a dozen different ways.
But her real danger would come not from her skills but her ability to get people to trust her. To underestimate her. Then when she turned out to be something far different from what they expected, she had the element of surprise. He could attest that she used the quality to her advantage.
He crooked a finger, ran his knuckle lightly along her delicate jaw. "I shouldn't have said those things back then. I was angry."
Her eyes flickered warily, and this time she did take a step backwards. He followed, maintaining the contact. Intent. Predatory. His thumb skated lightly across her lips. He felt each word as she formed it.
"You were furious."
"Yes." The word was a whisper of a sound uttered only inches from her mouth.
She moistened her lips. "You are still angry."
Walker cupped her face with both hands and brushed his lips against hers. Once. Twice. Again. "Do I seem angry to you?"
Her fingers locked around his wrists. When his mouth settled against hers her grip tightened, but she didn't push him away. He pressed her lips open and let her sweet unique flavor race through his system and fire his blood. When he traced the sensitive inner seam of her lips he was reminded of the silkiness of her mouth and dove deeper. He stroked her tongue with his, forcing her to respond to him. And when she did, when her fingers turned caressing on his wrists and her mouth opened avidly under his, he lifted his lips from hers to murmur, "No, I'm not angry. There's no point. You can't help what you are."
He toyed with the ends of her hair as he waited for his words to register. But then her eyes fluttered open, the look in them dazed, drugged, and lust punched him hard in the gut. When comprehension chased those feelings away, a deeply primal part of him mourned.
"What..." He distracted her from her words by dropping a kiss at the corner of her mouth. "And what am I?"
"An opportunist." His lips skimmed the curve of her cheek. "A woman who'll go to any lengths to get what she wants." He felt her tense and with a twist had his hands free to capture her wrists before she could use her nails on him. "Hell, you're not the first woman to use sex to get what she wants. Guess I should be grateful you screwed me literally, as well as figuratively."
She was faster than he remembered. He easily dodged her swiftly raised knee, but not the stomp on his instep. Even as he winced he was grasping both her wrists in one hand before she could try to flip him over her back, and yanked her closer to defuse the danger.
They were pressed together, legs, hips, chests; a solid length of heat pulsing between them. Even now he knew better than to underestimate her. "Still carry that stiletto around your thigh?" Without waiting for an answer, Walker slipped a hand under her skirt, skimmed his fingers over her silky leg, found the weapon strapped around it. She tossed her head, and glared at him murderously. Old grudges couldn't lessen his appreciation of the picture she made with storms brewing in her dark eyes. "You always did have a temper, Jaz."
"And always you had the head of the pig."
He interpreted her insult with very little difficulty. "I may be pig-headed, but I'm not stupid." With no little reluctance he removed his hand from her thigh. "I know how you operate now, and I'm putting you on alert. You'll do things my way in Maloun. An assignment like this can have only one leader, and it's going to be me." Watching the mutinous expression settle over her face, he gave her a slight shake. "I mean it. We can't be pulling in two different directions. We're going to have to come to some terms."
"As usual the terms must be yours. I understand exactly."
He might have believed her if her voice wasn't so defiant. As it was, he had the distant observation that her accent still became more pronounced when she was upset. "I'm the one who's going to be taking most of the risks. I have to be able to call the shots."
We will work as a team, as Dirk hired us to do." Her eyes flashed at him. "You must learn to control your temper and your ego if we are to be successful."
She pulled away and he let her go. There could be nothing more accomplished now, at any rate. Not with both of them at each other's throats. But he'd made his point, so he turned and headed for the door.
Before he walked through it though, sheer deviltry had him turning back again. "Oh, and Jaz?" He waited for her to look at him before smiling mockingly. "You definitely kissed me back.
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