FORTY-ONE

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Later on in the evening, the blonde across the way stood up, pulling on Spinelli's arm with a pout. After a few more tugs, he allowed himself to be dragged up to dance. The band was playing a rendition of a Rod Stewart love song. In the way of a gentleman, Spinelli put his hand up to receive the woman's, but she ignored it, choosing instead to snake her arms up and around his neck while fitting her body against his with a seductive smile.

Virginia saw red and it had nothing to do with the color of his dance partner's dress. 

For the next two and a half minutes, she tried to concentrate on something else, but failed. When the song finally ended, Spinelli had to reach up and pull on the woman's wrists to free himself from her hold. As he retreated back to his table, she rushed to keep up with him, baby-stepping her way along on stilettos she needed much more practice with.

Virginia leaned over and asked Walt if he wanted to dance. It was a childish move, one she shouldn't be using, especially on Walt, but good sense could not triumph over the memory of Ms. Big Boobs pressing into Spinelli's chest. And Walt didn't seem to mind. In fact, judging from the smile, he was thinking his night had just taken a turn in the right direction. Unlike Paul, Walt had spent most of his time at the table with her and Cap. True to his word, he was keeping her company, even though he had to be finding the two of them boring.

The smile was still there when they started moving to the music. "Are you having a good time?" he asked.

"Yes. I'm glad you talked me into coming. How about you? Are you having a good time?"

"I am now."

She tried to block it, but that uncomfortable feeling rushed forward, bringing both guilt and confusion with it. On the one hand, Walt was a good friend, and she wanted to keep it that way, afraid that his recent behavior was indicative of him looking for more than she was willing to give. Yet on the other hand, yes, Walt was a good friend—that should be a positive, not a negative—and a handsome man. Why wasn't that enough for her?

"Good," she said, feigning ignorance. At least he was keeping a respectable distance between them and not pushing his luck in that regard. She changed the subject, talking about work as the song played out its story and came to an end.

Bringing their chests together for a quick hug, she felt him stiffen in her arms.

"Get lost," he hissed.

Confused, she stepped back . . . and saw the reason why. Spinelli was standing next to them.

"May I cut in?" he asked, looking calm, cool and collected as he waited for one of them to answer.

Walt took a step toward him, hackles raised. "What do you think?"

"It's okay," Virginia said, touching Walt's arm, wanting to avoid a confrontation.

Walt frowned so deep, he had to squint. Giving the man beside him a filthy look, he backed away. On the way to his seat, he tossed one angry glare over his shoulder.

"Come." Spinelli offered her his hand and she took it, letting him lead her to the center of the dance floor where he could use other couples to try to block the scrutiny coming from both sides. Once he was duly satisfied, he pulled her hand up between them as his other arm moved around her waist, the warm glide of his palm making her skin tingle. He tugged her closer, his half smile close to cocky.

"What are you doing, Spinelli?"

"I'm dancing with the most beautiful woman in the room."

Every inch of her warmed and softened.

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