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"It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Henry." His voice, sweet and deep as dark molasses, poured over her skin.
It was like she had some kind of radar where he was concerned. As he caught up, she realized he was hot. Not cutie-hot, but hot-hot. Waves of warmth billowed over her as if she walked next to a pulsing fire. She had to fight hard against the urge to stop and snuggle into the comfort he offered. This was a complication she did not need and the weight of it slowed her down.
Debra couldn't put it off anymore. Since her car was in front of Charlene's shop, she'd come in the back door. Everyone else was at the front of the building or already gone. She hadn't seen Mayor Corvell when she left.
Now she was alone with Maddox. The door was right in front of her. She could still run away if she tried, but it was best to confront this bizarre attraction head on and get it out of her system. At least this way there would be no witnesses if she did something stupid like try to crawl up his body like a needy kitten.
She inhaled, shockingly aware of how close he stood, of the way his breath moved over her hair. She straightened. Pushed up her glasses. And turned.
Sweet Baby Jesus.
It was entirely unfair that he should be so attractive. His eyes were the most amazing shade of smoky blue and smile lines bracketed his mouth. Straight brown hair fell adorably over his forehead.
Dang it. Even his nose was cute, broken and crooked, but still strong. Not fair. If her nose were crooked, she'd be that girl with the crooked nose. Not all goose-bumpy and sexy.
He'd said something, hadn't he?
Debra cleared her throat. "Likewise,sir."
"Have dinner with me."
Debra's raised eyebrows made wrinkles in her forehead, but she didn't care. "I beg your pardon?"
"Have dinner with me."
Too bad all those good looks were wasted on such a jerk. The nerve. After her fight with the mayor, this was too much. She gave him her most glacial glare.
"Allow me to introduce you to the mechanics of the interrogative statement, Mr. Moreau."
"Maddox, please," he interrupted.
She glared harder and continued. "The interrogative is used to ask a question of another person. Whenever possible, it should be qualified by a polite phrase, such as 'please'. For example, 'Miss Henry, will you please have dinner with me?'"
Smile lines deepened. "And will you?"
"Yes." She gasped and her eyes widened as she slapped her hand over her mouth. That was so not what she meant to say.
The lines blossomed into a full-on grin of triumph. "How does tomorrow night sound?"
The glare she gave him this time was far from glacial. What stupid impulse had taken over her mouth? Huge mistake. She didn't want to date anyone, remember? And if the mayor found out, she'd be back on the job market faster than she could say Dewey Decimal System. Maybe she could bargain with him.
"How about a cup of coffee instead?"
"At your house?"
"No!" She winced. Way to be subtle. "I mean, something a little less formal than dinner."
"I'm afraid not, Miss Henry. You agreed to dinner. I couldn't possibly accept anything less." He kept smiling that charming grin, though it had become a trifle fixed.
"I'm fine with a hamburger at the Sonic."
"Keep trying to talk me down and I'll take you clear to Columbia."
The state capitol was closer than The Mill in Boykin, but where the idea of riding through the Midlands with the mayor sounded both dull and creepy, being cooped up in a car with Maddox Moreau would probably drive her insane.
Debra gathered what little grace she could muster and smiled grimly. "That won't be necessary, I'm sure. Where would you like to go?"
"I have somewhere in mind. I'll call you tomorrow and let you know."
That was her cue to write down her phone number. Give him some personal connection to her. But she was ahead of him this time. Debra stuck her hand into a pocket of her bag.
"I'll be at the library. Here's my card."
A business card was supposed to be impersonal, but he took it gently between two long, strong fingers and lifted it to his nose, as though it was a precious love letter imbued with perfume. He smiled and Debra became short of breath.
She had to get out. She stumbled backwards into the heavy double doors. "Right. So. I'll, um, talk to you tomorrow then. 'Kay. Good night, Mr. Moreau."
"Maddox," he called after her, but the door clanged shut.