See Part 1 for disclaimer.

Part 8


"You have a hell of a lot of nerve!"

His eyes widened as she threw off her wrap to reveal a golden halter dress that clung to her body like a second skin. Perfectly placed gemstones sparkled as the light hit them just right. The dress stopped just above her knees, showing off her outstanding legs. He groaned inwardly. He was definitely a legs man.

She looked like a goddess.

C.J. worked to hide a smile as she saw his reaction to her dress. She wasnít quite sure what had made her put it on earlier in the evening, as it was a little too formal for the restaurant Danny was taking her to and it was much more risquť than she typically wore. But when she saw the way Toby was looking at her right at that moment, she silently thanked whatever deities that had convinced her wear it.

At the same time, she couldnít help but notice how he looked in his faded blue jeans and loose button down shirt. It had been a long time since she had seen him in something other than a business suit and she was enjoyed the change tremendously. He looked so casual and relaxed.

He was so sexy.

"What the hell are you talking about," Toby gathered his wits and replied to her irate retort.

She blinked, snapping back into her anger. "How dare you do that me!"

Toby felt his ire rise in response to hers. "How dare I do what, C.J.," he asked. "I already apologized for what I said about you and Danny. What more do you want?"

"You know thatís not what Iím talking about."

He rubbed his forehead in frustration. He had finally gotten her off his mind and was able to focus his concentration on the briefing memos he was supposed to be reading, when she suddenly shows up looking drop dead gorgeous and pissed as hell. Why couldn't she just leave him alone? "C.J., believe me when I say that not only do I not have clue as to what youíre talking about, but that if you donít tell me what you are talking about in the next two seconds, Iím going to have to ask you to leave!"

"You kissed me," she blurted out without thinking. "Youíve spent the past several days being a complete and utter jack-ass, making me loathe the very thought of you, and then out of nowhere you kiss me!" The words were tumbling out of her mouth now. "And not just any kiss; but the most passionate, consuming kiss Iíve ever experienced."

As C.J. stopped for a second to take a much needed breath, she noticed Toby was uncharacteristically struck speechless by her tirade. She couldnít afford to think about his reaction, however. She couldnít afford to think at all, or she was sure her mind would be shocked at all she was revealing to him and convince her to run out the door and never see him again.

"Danny is a good guy," she said, almost as if she was trying to convince him. She looked intently into his eyes. Her own golden brown eyes beginning to fill with tears. "He is sweet and kind," she paused, "and I know exactly how he feels about me."

She continued strongly, her wrath returning, "And he spent the entire evening trying to make me feel the same way about him, but all I could think of was you!" Tears were streaming down her face now as all of the feelings she carefully kept hidden for the last few years came bubbling to the surface. "You! You and your arrogant, pompous attitude. Your complete reluctance to let another person know what youíre feeling if it is anything other than annoyance or contempt." Her voice grew softer with each breath. "And how youíre the first person I want to see when I have good news. The way your lips felt on mine. The way I feel when you look at me." She brushed the salty tears from her flushed cheeks. "It wasnít fair to him. He deserves more than someone who wants someone else," she finished, exhausted, her voice almost a whisper.

Silence fell over the room as they stood motionless, their eyes locked on each others. Her entire body tensed, anxiously waiting for his reaction. Toby struggled to find the words for the thoughts racing through his mind, and more importantly, the emotions in his heart. But, even with his excessively large vocabulary, he couldnít seem to find any to adequately tell her what he wanted her to know.

Instead, he slowly took a step towards her. Then another, until only inches separated them. He reached up and gently touched her face with both hands, smoothing away her tears with his thumb pads. Then slowly moved forward and captured her lips in a gentle kiss.

As he pulled away slightly, her eyes fluttered open to gaze into his in wonder. "C.J." he murmured, determined to tell her how he felt.

She didnít need to hear the words, though. His kiss told her all she needed to know. "Shhhh," she whispered and leaned into him, pressing her lips against his.

It started soft and gentle; but like a slow burn, turned into one of desperation and passion. Their mouths never broke contact as he guided her to the couch. His strong hands massaging her back, pleasantly surprised to find it left bare in the dress. Her hands ran down the front of his shirt, unbuttoning several of the top buttons to caress his chest.

After several minutes of heavy kissing, his lips left hers and began to travel across her jaw and down her long, slender neck. C.J. laughed lightly as his beard and mustache tickled her. Her laughter quickly turned to a gasp of desire, however, when she felt him nip her neck with his teeth, then quickly soothe the skin with his tongue. "Toby," she softly sighed and pulled his face back to hers.

He was running purely on instinct, now. All thoughts that didnít directly relate to this incredibly gorgeous woman flew out of his mind. His entire consciousness focused on what she was doing to him with her lips, tongue, and hands. His own hands moved her back to cradle her sweet face as he explored her elegant features with soft kisses. As his lips touched her left cheek, he reached up to run his fingers through her reddish gold hair.

Suddenly, the light hit the wedding band he still wore on his hand. All of his fears came rushing back, hitting him like a freight train. He jerked away from her embrace and quickly rose to his feet, putting as much distance between them as possible.

"Toby?" Her voice was thick with emotion. "Whatís wrong?"

He turned to look at her. Her hair mussed up; her lips red and swollen from his kisses; she had never looked more beautiful. With that thought, he looked down guiltily.

She followed his gaze to his left hand, and felt her breath catch in her throat as she saw what he was looking at. His wedding band. The precious token of love from another woman. A woman he swore his heart to. C.J. bit her lip to keep from crying. "You still love her, donít you," she asked, not quite sure if she wanted to hear his answer.

Toby was quiet for what seemed like an eternity. "I donít know," he finally replied. He looked back up to her gaze. "I donít know."



Battlegound - 9




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