Jackson held out a hand before her. “Dance with me.”
Her jaw nearly fell open with surprise—and excitement— never thinking for a minute that Jackson Rivard was a man who would dance. Maybe he’d been right about that unpredictable thing. Her gaze took in the sight of his strong, muscular arms and she imagined them wrapped around her, holding her tight as he guided her across the floor. His body would be pressed up against hers, and she’d feel the scorching rock hard wall of his chest...
Oh, but this was a bad idea on so many levels. Right?
She shrugged, embarrassed warmth creeping up from her neck to her cheeks. “I don’t know how.”
“I’ll teach you. Come.” He stood, apparently not accepting no for an answer. Carla’s heartbeat knocked against her chest, nervous anticipation fueling its speed. As discreetly as possible, she swiped her damp palms along the sides of her skirt before accepting Jackson’s outstretched hand and rising from the table, allowing him to lead. They made their way across the room and onto the dance floor, where Jackson found them room.
“The Cajun waltz is very similar to other kinds of waltzes,” he said, “except we tend to hold our women closer, and the music can be a lot slower than a Strauss waltz, for example.”
Carla shook her head. “I don’t know how to dance any kind of waltz, so it’s a waste of your time to explain the difference.”
Jackson smiled. “Then just follow me.”
“I’m going to make a fool of myself,” she said, trying to ignore the swirling butterflies in her stomach as Jackson placed his right hand against the small of her back.
“Think of it as part of your fear assignment,” he whispered in her ear. Carla’s heart leapt as the caress of his breath drifted against her skin.
“It’s three steps,” Jackson explained as he resumed proper posture. “Long, short short; long, short short. Let me lead you. You’ll be fine.”
With him as her guide, she believed him. The warmth of his body flowed to her through his hands, his strength and sureness like a beacon, guiding her way. She made a couple of missteps in the beginning, but Jackson turned out to be such a competent teacher he neatly covered for her.
“Relax,” he said. “And enjoy.”
She did her best. The music captivated her, its mournful beauty striking a chord in her heart. She opened her mind to everything around her: the band, the other dancers, the heat of their bodies, the aromas of the food. But mostly she embraced the man who held her, who led her around the room, making sure she looked like she belonged there.
“Don’t look at your feet,” he whispered into her ear. “Look at me.”
She did as he asked, raising her chin to look into Jackson’s blue eyes, and then she was lost. Her breath whooshed out as he trapped her in his gaze, like an insect in a spider’s web. Except unlike the insect, Carla never wanted out. She felt as if she could drown in him. Helpless, her mind drifted to thoughts of what he could do to her. His lips on hers, fingers skating across her naked skin, his body flush against hers on the bed while he held her down, sucking her breasts, his rock hard arousal pressed against her. She could reach down between their bodies and take him in her hands, stroking him, teasing, making him even harder. She would hear the ragged panting of his breaths against her skin, ready for her. His fingers would drift downward to slip between thighs, mercilessly stroking until her hips arched up, so hot for him, and then he would enter¾
The music stopped, dousing her fantasy like a bucket of cold water. Jackson stepped back to look down at her, smiling.
“Did you like it?”
Ooooh yeah. “Definitely. A lot.” She prayed like mad that she bore no telltale red face from her little mental visit to his bedroom and plastered on a giant smile. She needed to pull herself together and pay no attention to her trembling knees or the throbbing pulses between legs. Jackson Rivard was dangerous—to her career, her fear assignment, her sanity. She had to remember that.