Page 31 of Puppy Madness

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He lowers his menu, a light smirk on his lips.

That look he gives me…

It’s like he can see right through any shield I’d want to present to the world like he can pierce my defenses without even trying. It’s so crazy to think we’ve somehow gone five days without spending time together.

Now we’re here, and it feels so natural, so right…it feels like the only thing we could be doing.

“Order whatever you like,” he tells me. “There’s no judgment here, Danni.”

“I wasn’t worried about being judged,” I murmur. “Or maybe a little. I mostly don’t want to mess up in this fancy restaurant.”

His lips twitch, making him look somehow affectionate and savage at the same time. “If you get your dress messy, that just gives me an excuse to take it off.”

I try to suppress the whimper which rises inside of me, attempting to break free. It’s all the pleasure stowed up from the past week, all the lust-filled nights of lying in bed, dreaming of Dominic.

Fine, nothing new there.

Except this time, I know how he feels.

I know what it’s like when his lips are pressed against mine, the heat burning between us, his hands indulging in my ass and making me feel so wanted I wonder if I could take the lead… guide him to his back, sit down, hope I can take his huge length.

“I thought we were being good?”

He laughs gruffly. “You make it so difficult.”

We order our food – I get the meatballs, after all – and then Dominic leans forward, running a hand through his silver hair. He looks at me in that intoxicating way, nothing else matters to either of us now.

“If this was a date, I’d ask about your interests,” he says. “But like you said, it’s not.”

“You know my interests anyway,” I reply, laughing. “Dogs, dogs, and more dogs.”

“Are they your only passion?” he asks.

“Pretty much. Does that make me crazy?”

He reaches across the table, then withdraws at the last second. It’s like he did it by mistake, forgetting we’re not a couple, forgetting we can’t act on these impulses no matter how badly we want to.

“If so, you’re just about as crazy as I am,” he says huskily, placing his hands under the table.

“I wish we could hold hands,” I say quietly.

“Me too.” He lets out a long breath, making me imagine it tickling over my skin, teasing me all over. “There’s lots I wish we could do.”

We could if we were in it for life.

Maybe Lizzy might feel different. Or maybe that’s another impossible dream.

“My age doesn’t put you off?” I say with a teasing tone.

He shakes his head, letting out another breath, this one somehow more carnal. “I don’t care about your age, except….”

“Except?” I prompt, heart thudding, something about his intense expression telling me this is important.

He averts his gaze, seeming oddly shy, an unusual look for my man. “If we took this further, our relationship…you’re young enough that we could start a family, a new life together. If… But that’s a big if.”

My heart was soaring until he added the last part, and I realized he was talking hypothetically, cloud-thinking type of stuff, not attached to reality.

“If,” I repeat, nodding.

In a different life, if Lizzy wasn’t my best friend.

Or if…if something else, something he’s not sharing.

But he said it. He mentioned kids and a family, which is more than I could ever have hoped for.

“What about me?” he says, smirking. “Doesn’t my age put you off?”

“No,” I say, so loud and firmly that a few people turn to glance at us.

I lower my voice as I go on.

“I love how mature you are. I love how you’re not like the boys my age.”

“In what way?” he asks.

“They’re not you.” I laugh quietly, feeling my cheeks warm up. “I’m not sure how else I can put it except to say that. They’re just not you, Dominic. They’re immature, and they can be cruel. Not all of them, obviously, but my generation. I’ve heard stories from other girls about how boys use them, expect things they’ve seen in porn…and then move on to the next one.”

Dominic shakes his head slowly. “I could never move on to the next one. When I choose my woman, she’s going to be my woman.”

We lock eyes for a long moment, and I wonder if this is it when he tells me how he really feels.

He leans forward again, reaching across the table.

This time, he takes my hand. I gasp as the force of his touch scorches up my arm, making me hold him tightly, desperate for his warmth and for him.

“But I’m aware that would come across as possessive to a lot of women.”

“Not to me,” I say. “I mean…when I find my man, I’d like for him to feel that way.”

His thumb moves over my knuckle, tickling me temptingly, causing me to squeeze my legs even tighter under the table. My lips feel like they’re swelling, the excitement rising, and my core feels like it’s throwing a party with all the signals it’s sending thundering through my body.