He stared straight into her eyes, as if he was challenging her. Defensive -- typical for an ex-con. She'd worked with a lot of them. No reason to treat Jake Monroe any differently than the others, even if seeing him again brought back a stupid rush of adolescent hormones.
She grabbed the file folder labeled Scott Hopkins
and slid it across the desk to him. “Here's the boy you'll be meeting tonight.”
He straightened up and took it, then slouched back again and opened the file. “Tell me about him.”
“He's new to the program. His mom is in and out of rehab all the time. His older brother supposedly takes care of him when his mother isn't home.”
“Is he in a gang?”
“No. He's a loner.” At least he was curious. Maybe he'd do a good job after all. “He's been convicted of multiple misdemeanors. Our goal is to prevent him from graduating to felonies.”
“Like I did.”
She might as well be frank. “Exactly.”
He looked amused by her agreement. Full lips tilted up at the corners in a little smile ... almost a smirk.
“If you aren't going to take this seriously, you might as well leave right now. There's no point in establishing a relationship with Scott if you're going to flake on him.”
He frowned at that. “I'm not going to flake.”
“You clearly don't want to be here.”
“You don't have a clue what I want.” He gave her another long look, as if assessing her suit. Or the breasts beneath it. “How did you get stuck with this gig?”
“I volunteered. These kids need all the help they can get.”
“You're a D. A., right?”
Where was he going with this? She nodded. “I'm an assistant D. A.”
“So it's your job to prosecute criminals, not to help them.” He sounded like he thought she had the most immoral job in the world. “Seems strange for you to be running a prevention program.”
“I'd prefer it if the crime was never committed in the first place.”
His eyebrows lifted. “Then you'd be out of a job.”
She didn't have to take this. “We have five minutes before the session begins. If you can't be civil, you can wait in the hallway.” And take those broad shoulders with you
“Don't get pissed off, Kate.”
“It's Katherine.” Wait a minute. She hadn't gone by Kate in years.
His eyes gleamed. Now his lips wore a bona fide smirk. As if he recognized her for the scared, uptight girl she'd been all those years ago.
“So you do remember me.”
His smile didn't fade. “And you remember me.”
“Why didn't you say something earlier?”
“Why didn't you?”
She had no answer to that.
He leaned forward and gave her another once-over. A heated once-over, his gaze lingering on her breasts. Unsettling her, though nothing would make her admit it. She clenched her hands under the desk to stop herself from folding her arms over her chest, but the warmth in her face told her she was blushing.
His grin went wicked. “You sure have changed. I like the buttoned-down executive look.”
Was that his idea of a compliment? “I don't care what you like.” Liar
He leaned closer, resting his arms on the desk. Could just a look make her nipples hard?
Yes. Damn him.
She wouldn't move away, no matter how much he crowded her. No matter how rapidly her heart beat from having him this close.
“You never did,” he said.
She frowned, totally confused. “What?”
“You never did care what I liked.” He smiled. Slow, confident, and God help her, sexy. “But I liked you, Kate.”
Subtlety obviously wasn't one of his strong suits. He looked like he wanted to throw her over his shoulder and carry her off. God, the image was tempting. For once, just once, she could have a wild, dangerous man. A man she couldn't control.
No. No, she couldn't take the risk. With an ex-con? No way. “Forget it.”
He raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. “Hey, it's only natural to wonder how much you've changed. It's been what, eight years?”
More like ten. Since graduation from high school. She'd gone to college and tried to put the projects behind her. “Give it up, Jake.”
He shook his head. “You're harsh. What's wrong with a little reminiscing?”
“We have nothing to reminisce about, and you know it.”
“Sure we do. We're from the same hood. But you probably don't live in the Gardens anymore.”
The Gardens. She'd almost forgotten the ironic nickname someone had given the projects. “It's none of your business where I live.”
His gaze dropped to her breasts again. He looked at her like he hadn't seen a woman in months. Well, he'd been in prison for three years. Sometimes she felt like she'd been in prison herself -- a prison of self-denial, always being the good girl. A man like him could teach her to be bad.
His gaze came back to her face. “Remember how we used to play together when we were kids?”
Oh, God. They'd played Doctor. Exactly twice, under the front porch of her grandmother's house, until they'd been caught. At age seven, this man's penis was the first one she'd ever seen. He'd knelt on the ground at her feet, feasting his eyes on her while she held her skirt up like a little tramp. She hadn't been anything but curious at seven. Now, twenty years later, the thought of having his head under her skirt made her wish she was the little tramp her grandmother had called her.
He grinned. “I know you remember. You're blushing. I've learned a lot since then.”
Like how to steal, and God only knew what else.
He winked at her. “Let's play together again. Real soon.”