'Though I should warn you, that was my last condom.'
He must have felt the tension in her body, because he kissed the top of her head. 'Relax. Yes, I want to make love with you again. A lot. Now I've found out what it's like being with you, going back to a colleagues-only relationship isn't an option for me. I want you. Very, very badly. But I'm never going to stand in your way, Vicky. I know your career comes first. And that's fine, as long as you have room for me in your life as well.'
She hadn't realised she'd spoken aloud until he laughed. 'Vicky, I don't sleep with anyone on a first date—and this is officially our first date, because that day at the seaside doesn't count.'
'I don't sleep with anyone on a first date, either.'
'I know.' He smoothed his hand along the curve of her waist and hip. 'Though you make an excellent bad girl.'
She'd started all this. He'd offered her dinner. Meaning just dinner. She'd been the one to suggest something more. And he'd given her several opportunities to back out. Even when he'd been aroused and ready to rip the condom packet open, he'd given her the choice to go.
Which made her...cheap. She'd thrown herself at him.
Again, he seemed to read her mood without any effort. 'I respect my extremely competent colleague, Dr Radley. I'm a little intimidated by the Honourable Victoria Radley, though I've spent the past month fantasising about her, a box of strawberries and a single red rose.'
She wasn't sure what he had in mind, but a surge of pure desire flowed through her body at his words. She had a feeling that Jake would be a very, very inventive lover.
'And as for Vicky the bad girl...she makes me weak at the knees. She's the sexiest woman I've ever, ever met. Even the way she smiles turns me into a puddle of desire.' His voice was husky now, sultry. 'And she can have her way with me any time she chooses. Any time, any place. I'm all hers.'
If he kissed her now, she'd stay the night. Whatever her head said. She'd stay and make love with him. Touch. Taste. Learn every inch of his body, every mole and every crease.
When she said nothing, he sighed. 'What I'm trying to say, Vicky, is that I like you, I respect you, and I'm delighted that you've shared a very secret part of you with me. I'm not going to kiss and tell. If you want to keep us quiet at work, that's fine by me—though I couldn't give a damn about the hospital grapevine. People might talk, but someone else will knock us off the hot spot within a couple of days.'
'I want to see you, Vicky. I want to spend time with you. I want to sit in the back row of the movies with you and an enormous bucket of popcorn. I want to walk hand in hand in Kew Gardens with you. Kiss you in a secluded corner. Drive out to the country with you and watch the stars. Go to a fireworks display with you on Bonfire Night, and take you home and see them happen all over again when we make love.' He paused. 'And I want to throw a party for my woman when she becomes professor of neurology.'
He'd called her his woman. He wanted to make love with her and see stars. And he saw her as professor of neurology.
He believed in her.
Her eyes filled with tears. 'I can't stay tonight.'
He smiled and traced her lower lip with the pad of his thumb. 'You're probably right. We're both on duty tomorrow—and if you stay here neither of us will get any sleep. Even if we don't have any more condoms between us.'
Her eyes widened. He was prepared to take risks like that?
He grinned, clearly guessing what she'd thought. 'There are other ways. I could give you an example right now.' He shifted to kiss her lightly on the mouth. 'Though I won't push you until you're ready.'
Her body tingled at the thought.
'But I'm going to keep asking you to stay. Because, one morning, I want to wake up with you in my arms.'
She wanted that, too. But even if he believed in her now, would he change? Would he be like her previous boyfriends at heart, want her to be something else and give up her dreams of a professorship? Like everyone she'd ever known—except for Seb and Charlie—trying to put her in a pigeonhole where she didn't want to be?
This was where she knew she should tell him that tonight was a one-off. That they couldn't carry on. That from now on their relationship was colleagues-only. And then she found herself saying, 'I'll cook dinner at my place, tomorrow night.'
He smiled. 'Thank you. I accept.' He kissed the tip of her nose. 'And you'd better go. While I still have the strength of will not to kidnap you and keep you in my bed until dawn.'
She wasn't sure if that was a threat or promise. And the fact that she wanted it, too, scared her even more. This wasn't supposed to happen.
Tomorrow. She'd cook him dinner, and she'd tell him tomorrow.
She wriggled out of bed and dressed swiftly. Her dress was creased to the point of embarrassment, but it didn't matter: she was driving home, so nobody would see. The dry-cleaner would make her dress pristine again.