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He strolled along the edge of the balcony, his broad shoulders skimming past several potted plants. The air smelled faintly of lavender, roses, and the fresh scent of cut grass. Lulled by the atmosphere, she turned and fingered a rose bud that hadn't yet bloomed. It had always seemed ironic that velvety soft petals grew in such close proximity to thorns.
"Would you share a toast with me, señorita?"
Intrigued, she took a step forward and accepted the glass of white wine. "What shall we toast?"
He studied her a moment, and she wished she could have seen the rest of his face. The attraction she felt to him seemed foolish--she'd barely spoken to him and she didn't know what he looked like. She reacted to more than his appearance, however. His touch, the way he moved with her became a sensual dance she wanted to carry from the floor to his bedroom.
"To unexpected meetings," he said at last, his voice low and gravelly. "That we find welcome."
Her belly tightened as their glasses clinked together. She took a small sip, already dizzy and warm from dancing and their private meeting. When she lowered her glass, she found him closer to her, the heat of his body a shield against the night.
Neither of them spoke, but the intensity of his gaze filled her. She waited in hope he would close the meager space between them and whisper in her ear. More than anything she wanted to smell the wine on his breath, feel the moist heat of his words as he suggested they return inside. Every inch of her craved him, this masked man she knew nothing about.
With a single, gloved finger he tilted up her chin and turned his head to the side. Her breath hitched,anticipation burning through her nerves.
"What would the queen of the jungle command of her king?" he murmured.
Assuming her role as huntress, she stepped forward and pressed her hands to his chest. With fierce, unyielding hunger he closed his mouth over hers and kissed her, no sense of innocence to him at all. One broad hand snaked around her while they both fumbled to place their glasses on the stone edge of the balcony. Just as she released her glass, he pulled her to him, held her against his hard chest and firm, flat belly. Their paper masks scraped against one another, but she didn't care. He tasted sweet from the wine, while his own masculine flavor tasted slightly bitter.
She'd forgotten the shock and excitement of kissing a stranger, the rush that traveled like a tornado down her spine. Her toes curled in her shoes, though she felt as though she'd been here with him before. Déjà vu the French called it, though this was more vivid than anything else she'd experienced before.
Rather than feign innocence and demur, she melted into him, explored his mouth with the same fervent need with which he licked the roof of her mouth and nibbled her bottom lip.
"Oh," she groaned, inhaling his breath, filling her lungs with him.
Their foreheads touched behind paper masks, gloved hands trailed down the curves of spines. A name played on her lips, and she froze in his grasp.