HE’D KNOWN he couldn’t go to dinner with her before he’d helped her finish her run. He’d known even before the test had begun. Everything had changed in the few short hours since he’d seen her at breakfast. Colonel Barnes had provided surprising information about the woman Daniel had been dreaming about. The knowledge that she was none other than Captain Kaitlin McCord had been devastating.
Typical of the Army not to tell Captain McCord the name of the paralegal she’d been assigned. She’d probably been given some vague notion that a legal specialist would be arriving soon, but details like names would not have been bothered with. One enlistee was much like another in the military, after all. And she had no choice in the matter, anyway. So what difference would it make to her whether she knew the name of her legal specialist before he arrived for duty? Having been conditioned to Army ways, she wouldn’t even think of asking for more information. If she had, she would have recognized his name this morning. God only knew what her reaction would be when she realized that her enlisted soon-to-be paralegal had made a pass at her. He thanked his lucky stars that she hadn’t returned his interest or he might have revealed more about his feelings toward her than he already had. And then working with her would be nearly impossible.
When he’d started toward her before the test, he’d had every intention of putting an end to any hope he might have harbored about her. He’d been intent on telling her exactly who he was, knowing that would make her lovely eyes look in some other direction. Knowing that in the moment of realization, her smile would falter and her interest in him fade. She had no choice. The Army had made her what she was—an officer who could not fraternize with an enlisted man.
But the nearer he’d drawn to her, the less his brain had functioned. Arriving in front of her just as the first whistle blew, he could only make the obvious observation that she needed a partner. The next thing he’d known, he was holding her delicate little ankles, gazing at her shapely legs, admiring her trim posterior and slender waist, and hoping his aroused condition would not grow to noticeable proportions.
And later, after he’d managed to run hard and fast enough to exhaust his lustful body, he’d seen her struggling to finish her run. He would have helped any soldier in the same situation, yet he’d hesitated to go near her again until Sergeant Dubia said she wasn’t going to come in under her time limit. Helping her was all he’d been thinking of at the time. She was the kind of woman who would respond to a challenge. The dinner wager was all that had come to mind. He should have known she wouldn’t forget. Not this woman. She was an officer, a lady and a lawyer. And he’d better try harder to remember that.
“I knew I couldn’t win, of course,” he heard Kaitlin say through the fog of his own thoughts, “but I tried to make you work for your meal. Your ploy did the trick, since I managed to come in under my time limit. Thanks. But I pay my debts. Where would you like to eat?”
Daniel thought he’d like to go far away where the world wouldn’t find them, where they could talk freely and laugh heartily and hold hands and kiss and... But he had to beg off somehow and walk away from her. Just walk away.