No Surprises

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Ashe wasn't lying when he told her that friends had described him as having Latin hips, for just as they claimed, the boy could move. And move he did. Thankfully, his progression from his inherited English hips to those alleged Latin ones was slow, probably so he would not scare the living daylights out of her. She felt out of place in the salsa club at first, but the gradual progression of the man who said cuteness instead of ass to the man now teasing her with hips that really moved helped Riley to relax and finally let go.

It surprised her that no one recognized him, or if they did, they didn't seem to care. This was New York after all, and after a week of working hard, New Yorkers were ready to play even harder. Many of the couples were already moving perfectly to the music, the men leading their partners through intricate twirls and dips, and Riley felt self-conscious about the lack of movement of her hips. So, for the first twenty minutes, she stood stiffly facing Ashe, wondering if she'd just made a big mistake.

She felt like Baby in Dirty Dancing at the beginning of the movie, awkward and unable to do the simplest dance moves. But as couples drifted past her effortlessly, some of them urging her to dance and let it all out, Riley knew she wasn't the type to give up so early in the game. After all, the night was young, and if other couples could move like Shakira after a few drinks, then she could too. Heck, she didn't even need alcohol to do that. She had Ashe.

It started with him moving his shoulders to the music, his eyes always on her, pinning her beneath his gaze as he beckoned her toward him by crooking his index finger and reeling her in. No doubt he had been born with expressive eyes, but he'd just turned them on full force into come-hither eyes that took no prisoners, and soon, Riley couldn't care less where hither was. Wherever that was, she was there.

The movement drifted from his shoulders to his torso, his hands taking hers and moving her along with him. If he took a step forward with his left foot, it meant that she had to take a step back with her right. He'd murmur the directions now and then as he brought her closer to him, his mouth against her ear.

"Left foot forward." "Right arm up." "Move those hips, Riley." "Just let go. That's it, petal."

When he guided her across the floor hours later, holding her arm with one hand, the other lightly pressing along the small of her back or her side or wherever he had placed it with a gentle nudge that told her where to go, Riley had finally figured it out. He was leading her, a gentle nudge with his right hand telling her to move her left leg back and her hip with it.

Another gentle touch along her waist and the lifting of her arm over her head made her spin around straight against his chest, where he'd greet her with a wide grin, sometimes biting his lower lip as he watched her slowly let go. Gradually, she began to move her shoulders, then her hips, and soon her whole body. Shakira be damned—she could dance!

Riley was perspiring by the time she figured she'd finally got it, when she'd forgotten to worry about her form, who might be watching them, or whether she was making a fool of herself. She was enjoying herself in a way she'd never done before. Ashe only had eyes for her, and that was what mattered. Everything else seemed irrelevant. What mattered to her then was the music and the way he held her, spun her and even ground one hip along hers, teasing her with a wink, a touch, a glance. With each movement, she grew hotter and bolder.

By the time they walked off the dance floor and out of the club, it was past midnight. They'd been dancing for hours and Riley's feet were screaming for relief. But so was her mouth, yearning for a kiss, and even more, from Ashe.

All night she'd been teased with gentle, playful nips of his lips, light kisses that did nothing but inflame her and make her want so much more. But she wasn't about to jump him on the dance floor, not when he was moving her so effortlessly, and she was following him as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. There was no questioning at all, not even when they got into a cab that took them back to her apartment, still breathless, their skin covered with a light sheen of sweat from all the dancing.

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