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He really wasn't her type.

But the fact that she had pegged him so wrong rankled a bit, because she was usually a good judge of character. She had to be. Denny told herself that she should just cut her losses and move on, but on the other hand, she'd never had problems getting a man into her bed—and wrapped around her little finger—before. Besides, having a hold on someone who worked with the CPD could be pretty useful.

So, after some internal debate, she sent him a card.

8 pm on Saturday, the Drake Hotel. Dinner's on me. DS

She was willing to bet that he'd be there, out of curiosity if nothing else. A hotel restaurant was a public enough venue that he needn't fear that she was out to get him. Not that she was—or not in that sense, anyway.


Denny won that bet.

She walked down to the hotel lobby at a quarter past eight (it didn't pay to be too early) and found Constable Benton Fraser waiting for her. He was dressed in a suit, not his uniform. This was a private encounter, then. All the better.

His face looked open and innocent, the picture of the naïve backwoods Canadian he'd seemed to be from the start. No, maybe not naïve—but trusting, that was what he'd seemed. But he wasn't, she reminded herself.

Well, neither was she. She smiled at him. "Constable Fraser."

"Ms. Scarpa," he replied with a small bow. His suit was black and really quite well-cut. "Or should I call you Lady Shoes?"

"Whatever you like," she said, and turned up the wattage of her smile a bit.

"Shall we?" he said, and offered her his arm. Old-fashioned courtesy, of course. They got a table for two in the back of the restaurant, and a waiter took their orders.

"A glass of water, please," Fraser said.

The waiter didn't bat an eyelash, but Denny raised her eyebrows. "The wine list is excellent. And you don't need to hold back on my account—I said dinner was on me, and I meant it."

"I'm sure it's excellent, but I'm afraid I don't drink," he said politely.

Was he doing it just to keep his head clear? But no, her intuition was telling her that he was speaking the truth. She didn't think he'd ever outright lied to her. By omission, now...

"Sparkling water, then?" she asked, with a glance at the waiter, who nodded. "Perhaps a Perrier?"

"I'll try that, then," Fraser said. Their appetizers arrived, and they ate, only exchanging polite talk about the food, which was excellent. As they waited for the entrée, Fraser said, "So. To what do I owe the honor of this invitation?"

"You think I need a reason?"

"You might," he said carefully.

She lounged back in the chair and smiled at him. "Maybe I just want the pleasure of your company."

"In that case, I'm flattered," he said, though he still looked to be on his guard.

Denny smiled, slow and seductive. "I played a good game the day before yesterday, and I felt like celebrating."

The waiter arrived, discreetly serving their food and ghosting away again. Fraser cut a piece of his steak and then said, "I rather thought you already had a man to help you celebrate."

"Oh, him?" Denny flicked her wrist dismissively. "He was useful. For a time."

"Ah." He gave her a guarded glance, and she wondered if she was acting too cold. But no, she'd acted the needy woman before, and he'd seen through that. Still, she said, "Don't worry, he's fine—back in Vegas where he belongs. I really operate better alone."

"And yet you invited me here?"

"I told you—this is pleasure, not work." She looked at him, and he held her gaze a little too long, eyes dark and unreadable. Denny abruptly remembered the moment he'd let go of her on the ledge, and her stomach flipped. She broke eye contact and sipped at her wine as a distraction.

Funny how almost dropping her to her death hadn't made her lose interest in him. Yeah, right. If he hadn't been there, she would've given an unladylike snort. If risks didn't attract her, she wouldn't do what she did for a living—she knew that much about herself.

They finished the rest of the entrée, and Denny ordered a light sherbet for dessert. She didn't want anything too heavy.

As they ate dessert, she looked at him out of the corner of her eyes. He really was almost uncannily beautiful, and still managed to be utterly masculine—the straight profile of his nose, his broad shoulders, his pale smooth skin and dark hair. Still, it was just another mask to hide behind. She was betting his looks could be pretty damn useful to him.

He finished his dessert and laid his spoon down. This was the most important moment—well, except for the beginning, when she was wondering whether he'd show up at all. This was when he either slipped away or she'd get him. Maybe not around her little finger, not yet, but it'd be a start.

"So. What do you say to a game? I've got a room upstairs," she said, trying for casual.

"I'd say I'm not a worthy opponent for you," he said. "My colleagues seem to think I lack any talent for the game."

Not a yes, but not a no, either. "Oh, I don't know. You won all that candy off of them, after all. And I never got to play against you."

"Well, you know that playing for money is illegal in the state of Illinois," he said with a straight face.

She almost laughed. "Don't worry, I'm sure we can find something else to play for."

He hesitated. She could see his tongue flicking out to lick his lips--he really had plenty of potential tells. Then he said, "All right. I'd enjoy a game with you."

Ha. She'd got him. To hide her triumph, she turned to the waiter and told him to charge it to her room.

The room was quite nice, with a soft, rich carpet on the floor, a window looking out over the lights of the city, and a sofa with a coffee table and two armchairs on one end. And a large bed on the other.

Denny went over to the sofa and sat down, picking up the deck of cards she'd left on the coffee table. She shuffled the deck automatically, the smooth cards running through her fingers like water. It was soothing and familiar.

Fraser sat down in one of the armchairs opposite her, taking off his suit jacket and draping it over the back of another chair. He tugged at his collar, and she thought she could see a slight amount of discomfort on his face.

"Feel free to take your tie off if you want," she murmured.

"Thank you, I think I will. I've always found ties constricting." He efficiently loosened the tie and took it off.

"Isn't your uniform constricting, as well?"

"Of course. But wearing a uniform is part of my duty." Denny could see the base of his throat and the notch between his collarbones now, and it made him look oddly vulnerable. Damn it, but she wanted to fuck him. She wanted to despoil that seeming innocence of his and leave him wrecked and disheveled on the bed.

She wet her dry lips, then said, "Shall we?"

He nodded, and she dealt the cards. She glanced over hers, then leaned back against the armrest, stretching her legs out in front of her on the sofa. No sense in not using her best feature. She was wearing a pair of classic black high heels today, and her skirt went to mid-thigh. Denny watched closely, and saw Fraser's eyes flick briefly down, then up to her face again.

Denny won the game, of course—she was a professional, after all. But that didn't really matter, because you could learn a lot about people by seeing them lose. Some men couldn't take losing to a woman. They'd go red in the face and accuse her of cheating (which, in fact, had sometimes been true, but it was all part of the game), and sometimes even threaten her. Denny often found it amusing to crush their fragile little masculine egos.

Fraser wasn't one of those men. He took it with good grace—whatever he had his ego invested in, it wasn't his skills in playing poker. With a small smile, he said, "I told you, I'm not a worthy opponent for you."

"Oh, I don't know about that. I certainly enjoyed the game." Denny stood and made her way to his side of the table. She sat down on his armrest and stroked her fingers lightly over his broad shoulders. "How's your back? Still aching?"

This close to him, she could feel the heat of his body through his thin shirt, and smell the faintest hint of clean sweat. She dug her fingers slightly into the solid muscle of his shoulders, then lost her hold as he turned to face her.

"Much better, thank you." His voice had dropped slightly, and he was looking up at her. She liked that.

His face was so close, and it was easy to lean down to brush her lips over his. He drew in his breath slightly, and she felt the tip of his wet tongue as his mouth opened.

Then he was standing up, taking her with him. His hands closed around her wrists, and he pinned them against the wall. Damn, but he was strong. She wrestled down the impulse to fight, her heart hammering in her chest.

"Ms. Scarpa," he said in a low voice. "You invested a considerable effort in trying to kill the men who shot your brother, and I stopped you. Do you expect me to believe that you've forgiven me for that? What is your actual objective in inviting me here?"

She tried to keep her breath under control, and looked straight into his eyes. "We played a game," she said simply. "And you won. I'm professional enough to admit that, and I promise you I'm not carrying a grudge for it. I'll swear it on whatever you like."

He hesitated.

Going on instinct, Denny murmured, "Who was she? The woman who taught you not to trust?" The woman who got there before she did.

Fraser stiffened, and his hands around her wrists tightened almost painfully. Yeah, that'd hit the mark.

"Well, I'm not her. And I already told you why I invited you here," she said in a low voice and waited.

Finally Fraser relaxed his hold and then let her go. "I'm sorry if I hurt you."

"Likewise," she said. He hadn't backed away, and she leaned in to kiss him again.

For a moment, it was just the light brush of lips against lips, but then he turned his head to deepen the kiss, pushing her against the wall again, this time with the weight of his body. She would have felt triumphant at getting him where she wanted, but she was too busy kissing him back.

And damn, but he could kiss. She'd wondered if he'd be shy and hesitant. Could've gone both ways, really—he'd been embarrassed when she was changing into those old-fashioned long johns, but in other situations he'd been confident enough.

But there was nothing hesitant in the way he was kissing her now, and not in the firm body pressed up against her, either. In fact, he kissed her hungrily, as if he hadn't kissed anyone for years.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and hooked her legs around his back, and he grabbed her ass to help keep her up. He moaned and ground their hips together, and she hummed appreciatively into his mouth when she felt him hard against her.

"Bed," she murmured into his ear. It wasn't a question, and he obeyed, carrying her along effortlessly and putting her down on her back on the bed. He unbuttoned her blouse, and she had to smile at his fumbling with the bra.

"Let me," she said, and sat up to take her bra off. Fraser knelt on the floor and cupped her breast, and she felt her nipples tightening in anticipation as he leaned his head in. He moaned as he began to suck on one of them, as if he were the one being pleasured. His cheeks were clean-shaven and smooth against her skin.

Denny propped herself up on her hands and watched him kneeling there fully dressed between her spread legs. There was an intensity and focus to him that fascinated her. Most guys would've moved on to stripping their clothes off, but he just played with her nipple, flicking his tongue over it, then sucking, as if he didn't plan to do anything else in the next hour. When he switched to the other one and let his thumb rub over the first one, she gasped and overloaded on the sensation. She let herself fall back on the bed, trying to get the rest of her clothes off as fast as possible.

He helped her get them off, and then lowered his head between her legs. Oh, fuck. However much experience he had or didn't have, he knew his way around a clit. He spread her open with his fingers and used all that intensity of purpose to drive her out of her mind. And he didn't even go right at it—he circled around her clit, then closer, then back again, until she was making small desperate sounds with every breath. She wasn't going to beg him—definitely not—but her body was doing it for her with every movement.

Then he flicked his tongue right over her clit, and she cried out before she knew she was doing it. And he just kept right at it until she was shaking and coming, her hips held still while he licked her through it. He kept on, lighter now, until it was too much and she pushed him away.

She lay there, breathing hard, while Fraser looked down at her, eyes dark and hungry. His lips were wet, and he still had all his clothes on.

"May I?" he finally said.

She nodded and cleared her throat. "Come here and fuck me."

He began taking his clothes off efficiently. Halfway through getting his pants off, he stopped and bit his lip. "Do you have a, well, a condom?"

Denny almost laughed. Most men would've been hoping to get lucky and would've brought their own. "Sure. Nightstand table."

Fraser went to get it, and she watched him as he got naked and put the condom on. His skin was pale and smooth, and his muscles nicely defined. There was a certain urgency in his movements as he climbed onto the bed on all fours, and she lifted her hips in invitation. He pressed into her, slow and controlled. She held her breath at the feeling.

Denny hooked her legs around his back, pulling him all the way in. They both groaned with pleasure at the same time, and then he began to thrust, deep and hard. Damn, that was good. She loved being fucked after coming.

And the noises he was making—she could almost come again just from hearing the desperate little sounds he was making in her ear. Well, considering the way he moaned at a simple backrub, she'd wondered how he'd sound if he was actually fucking her.

She wanted it to last longer, and she tugged him closer and rolled them over. He let her, and lay on his back as she straddled him, his chest rising and falling with his rapid breathing. She leaned forward and licked the sweat from that spot on his throat, the one she'd looked at when he took his tie off. He drew his breath in and turned his head to the side, giving her access.

"Don't come yet, okay?" she murmured into his ear.

Fraser shuddered, and she could feel his cock twitching inside of her, but he nodded. She sat up again, braced herself with one hand on his chest, and begin touching herself with the other. God, she was wet. She felt her orgasm building again, and clenched around the hard length of him. He shifted underneath her, thrusting up, and she was almost there, almost...

Then his hands came up to cup her breasts, and he squeezed her nipples between finger and thumb. She gasped and came for an endless moment, grinding herself down on him.

Denny collapsed onto his chest, panting. She felt the rapid beating of his heart, and turned her head. His nipple was right there, and she flicked her tongue over it lazily. Fraser made a strangled noise, and his hands settled on her hips. But he kept still—she could feel the tension in his whole body.

"Yeah, go for it," she said.

She found herself flat on her back again as he flipped them around. He thrust hard into her a couple of times, and then she felt him coming. She could see his face when he did, and it was the most open and unguarded she had ever seen him. Then he came down on elbows and knees, managing not to crush her, and his head came down in the crook of her neck.

After a moment he rolled off her, and when she saw his face again, the vulnerability of orgasm was gone. Denny felt a strange regret, and had a brief urge to tuck her body back along his and drift off to sleep. Then she mentally shook her head. This was no time to go soft.

She smiled at him, with a laziness and satiation that didn't require acting at all, and traced his chest with her fingers. "There's a shower, if you want to clean up."

He hesitated, then levered himself up from the bed, throwing the condom in the waste basket. "Thank you, but I think I'll wait until I get home."

She put her hands behind her head and watched with appreciation as he bent down to pick up his scattered clothes and began to put them on. When he was fully dressed, she sat up on the edge of the bed, still naked.

"It's been an enjoyable evening," she said. And wasn't that an understatement—she hadn't had sex this intense in years.

He cleared his throat. "Yes, it has."

"Call me if you ever feel like changing your line of work," she said on an impulse. "Maybe I could do with a partner after all."

He looked at her for a long moment, and she knew he would never call her. Then he took her hand, and in an odd old-fashioned gesture, he brought it to his lips.

"Good-bye, Ms. Scarpa."