He was watching her again. It irked her how closely he watched her, how often. Every time she walked past his department, if he was there, he was watching. And it wasn't that general, vague stare people give when they're bored and can't stand to think about where they are or what they're doing. It was an intense sharp gaze that always made her breath catch. Even though she hadn't really though about him that way before. Come to think of it, she had generally written Brig off as a stick in the mud old enough to be her father. Okay, well, maybe only if he started REALLY young. But it was still possible.

And the more she caught him looking the more interesting he seemed to be. It had just been so long since anyone had looked at her with that kind of … want. It was like she was personifying that quiet little voice inside her head that always said "Please". Never in a pleading or commanding or even mocking tone, but that given only by a lover, that knows you're going to give them exactly what they want, they just have to ask for it.

So when did Brig decide that she was what he wanted? After all the failed attempts at friendliness, all the blank looks she received from him in response to anything remotely conversational. Now, he decided that he could stare at her like that? What had changed?

Perhaps the rumor mill was spinning faster than usual about her recent break-up. It was the only thing that would explain such a sudden turn around in his attitude.

She ducked her head through his department to wend her way through to the manager's office. Man, did she ever hate paperwork.

The manager's office was open, so she went in and pulled the forms she'd need to file for a change order. Closing the file cabinet, she turned and nearly ran into a solid wall of warmth. Or maybe that was just her blush making her feel overly hot.

"Um, excuse me." She tried to slip by when Brig's built body swallowed up the small door frame, but she was confronted with a bastion of plaid shirt. Blinking, confused, she felt her face flush further with embarrassment as she realized she was staring at said shirt, trying to determine how it would feel… or, rather, how the chest beneath it would feel. Just shy of whimpering, she squeezed her eyes shut, forced herself to open them and clear her throat, implying the wall of man in front of her should let her out of the small office. The only office without a security camera.

Unbelievably, he took a deep breath and stepped one steel-toed boot forward. She reversed. He followed with another step and shut the door. She shifted her paperwork to hide the fact that she slipped her other hand to finger her pocket knife. Guys like this saw quick actions, but a slow one might help her. "I don't think you should have done that."

He stopped.

When had she held her breath? It hurt in her lungs, but she didn't let it out quickly, instead, letting it simmer out slowly to try to control her fear. What would he do? What should she do? What if he only wanted to say something? His lips looked in the verge of forming words. Had she ever really heard him speak before? Yes, there had been a few times when she heard him talk to a customer…tersely. She remembered a gravelly sound, like a whiskey-drinker or a smoker's voice. She bit her lips and shifted her drifting gaze from his lips to his eyes.

And was completely surprised to see… anxiety?

"I probably shouldn't have. But I need to tell you something. Something I…couldn't do anywhere else." He was blushing. Under all that tanned, outdoor skin, he was embarrassed. Her mind raced through the myriad of things she could possibly hear from him. Did she do something wrong? Had she offended him in some way? Was he about to yell at her? Tell her she had toilet paper on her shoe?

A blur of motion preceded by an exhalation of breath was all she saw before being pressed up against the wall, his hands cupping her face and his lips trembling against hers. She was … shocked. It took precisely three things to make up her mind whether or not to knee him in the groin, whip out her blade or… something else. The first was that he smelled incredible. A mixture of sandalwood and something sage-y, something wintery and clean and omigaw good. The second was the fact that his only touch was with his lips and hands. The force of his advance pushed her against the wall, but he hadn't pressed advantage. The third was when he pulled back a bit, slowly, and brushed his lips over hers in a sweeping motion, opening the furnace of his eyes. It was like combining the feel of crushed velvet and flowers with the heat of an iron forge just begging to be fanned. He was waiting for her response. Like he hadn't known how to say what he wanted.

She decided on the "something else" out of her choices, let go of the knife in her pocket and slid her hand over his chest… kissed him back. It was just a little nip, a small movement, really, but it must have been enough to fan that fire. His dark eyes flared and he pulled her tightly against him, deepening the kiss, heating it like he was some sort of dragon. The romantic in her melted just a little bit when one large hand cupped her head and the other dropped to wrap around her waist.

She groaned. This was how a man was supposed to feel. Their hot dance of sensitized lips opened into a tango of tongues. He licked the inside of her lips. Who'd have thought that such a stoic man could be so…passionate?

She vaguely recalled someone jostling the door handle before he spun her around and flattened her paper work onto the desk, pointing to a random figure as he removed his boot from holding the door shut. Her heart hammered in her chest while he covered for them. She practically felt the manager stare at the side of her head, but she busied herself with whipping out a pen and writing her phone number down on a sticky note.

With their irritatingly by-the-book manager staring them down, all she could think of was to gather up her folder, palm the folded sticky note and shake Brig's hand. "Right, well, thank you for that. It was very…enlightening." He took the note and the hint just before she ducked her head and tried to leave. His hot and callused finger slipped briefly across her wrist a second before letting go, jolting her pulse even higher.

It was all she could do not to run to the bathroom, but calmly walk with a forced smile on her face. After checking to make sure no one else resided in her little refuge, she stepped up to the mirror. The first thing she saw was the beard-burn. Why was that sexy? How did something so…irritating make her feel…claimed?

The rest of her day burned away in daydreams.