Ariel lifted her chin. “I would not appreciate being manhandled. I do like to be handled by a man who knows what he’s doing. There is a difference.”
“I know the difference.” Dylan picked up his blazer and held it over his shoulder by a single finger. “And I’ll prove that, too.”
Before Ariel could snarkily turn him down, before she could remind him that she was the one in charge, before she could do anything, he’d already moved in on her. Used his hips to press her into the curve of the piano. Used his shoulder to nudge her body into a better angle. And then his lips met hers. Softly. Not all bluster and brashness.
No, Dylan surprised her with his technique. His kiss was a faint brush of lips. Then another. A slow back and forth that had her opening her own lips in a silent plea for more. More contact. More kisses. More of him. Ariel even raised up on tiptoe to lean into that provocative mouth.
It worked. Dylan slid his hand along her waist, then up her side so his thumb lay just below the lower curve of her right breast. The fact that he was so near and yet not touching it made Ariel hyperaware of his fingers. The length of them. The heat of them searing right through her top, as though all the heat from playing Naked now seeped out of him. Dylan squeezed, pressing her in and up, bowing her to press her breasts into his chest.
And then his tongue swooped in. Licking. Languorously exploring—and that exploration had the added bonus of slowly rousing every infinitesimal strand of nerves in her mouth. Warmth swirled right along with his tongue. Except that trail of warmth took off on its own path, expanding through her body with each pulse of her heart, each pull of his lips.
Ariel didn’t want to do anything to jar the perfection of what was inarguably one of the top three kisses of her entire life. But she simply couldn’t contain her pleasure—or her growing excitement. A low moan broke from her throat.
As feared, that was enough to make Dylan ease back. He removed his hand first…still without lifting his thumb that last crucial millimeter to make contact with her now aching breast. With a final suck on her bottom lip, he lifted his head. Looked at her with bedroom eyes, heavy-lidded and somehow darker than when she’d first seen them.
“That’s what it’s like to be well-handled by a man. I need you to keep that in mind. Make sure you handle me just as well over the next few weeks.” Dylan turned on his heel to walk out with one heck of a cocky swagger. Which was when Ariel realized he’d just kissed her legs out from under her without even using two hands. The other had kept holding his jacket.
Dylan Royce was definitely not the teenager she’d watched bop around in those videos. He was all man. A very dangerous man. Because in proving how easily he could make women in the audience want him, he’d also proven how easily he could make Ariel want him.
And now that she did want him? Enough so that she had to ease onto the piano bench and let her head clear? It’d be impossible to look at him the same way again. It’d be impossible to ignore the chemistry between them. It’d be impossible to shadow him twenty-four/seven, stay impartial and do her job.
But if she didn’t, if Ariel screwed up at all handling Dylan, she’d be fired. Funny how that fear still wasn’t enough to dim the luster of his kiss.