They walked back to her car and got in. Niko slid the passenger seat backward and reclined the back of the seat, and Elena moved her seat back slightly.
Niko pushed his hood off his head and rested against the seat back, eyes closed. “Comfortable,” he murmured.
“So you’re going to take a nap?” Elena teased.
“Not with you sitting here. That would defeat the purpose.” He opened his eyes and stared into hers. “What is the purpose? Why did you agree to meet me tonight?”
“I wanted to see you,” she said softly. “Our kiss Friday. I didn’t feel wrong about it then, and I don’t now. The only ‘wrong’ thing about it was that it made me dishonest to Corin and what I have with him.”
“Until you told him about it.” He took her hand and turned it palm up, then slipped his own hand over it. “That made it honest.”
“Right.” She relaxed under his touch.
“So there wasn’t anything wrong about it.” With his other hand, he brushed her face. ”You told me he said he didn’t have a problem with it.”
“He did.” She took a shuddering breath. “You’re making it really hard to have a conversation.”
“I am?” He raised an eyebrow. “Funny, I know human touch is powerful. I didn’t realize it had the power to take away speech.”
“You know what I mean.” She turned to face him. “You asked why I came here tonight. Why did you?”
“I wanted to see you.” With one finger, he traced her lips. “You told me your man would have no problem if you and I got something going. Or maybe I should say resumed what we used to have. You wouldn’t have told me if the idea didn’t appeal to you. I’d like to see just how much appeal it has.”
“So this is an experiment?” she muttered. “See how far you can persuade me to go?”
“See how far you’re willing to go.” He leaned closer to her, his face now mere inches from hers. In less than a second, he would be able to kiss her if he wanted. If she allowed it. He had to give her the choice, but having her so near, knowing she would no longer hide behind her fear of cheating on her man, made holding back even more difficult than before. “You have permission to explore what you want. Will you take the chance, or are you going to keep trying to play it safe?”
“It isn’t possible to play it safe with you.” She ran her hand up his arm. “This should be peaceful, like at your apartment. It isn’t. Far from it.”
“Possibilities.” Niko kissed her forehead. “Whatever happens here tonight won’t change my opinion of you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“It might change mine,” she said softly.
“You’re here. I’m here.” He rested his hand on her thigh, and she shivered again. “Relax,” he whispered. “If you can’t make up your mind, let me make it up for you. For once, stop trying so hard to be in control, and see what happens if you let go.”
He watched her, seeing in her expression her struggle to decide what to do. What happened next might change everything between them. From their previous relationship, they’d formed a friendship, but Niko couldn’t leave it at that any longer. His feelings for her were too strong to accept mere friendship.
He didn’t know if even mere friendship would survive between them if either of them developed any doubts. Or if Elena’s man changed his mind.
But he couldn’t predict the future. All he knew was here and now, sitting in Elena’s car with her, hearing the rain as it hit the car, watching Elena’s uncertainty give way to determination.
“Okay,” she said softly.