Jack slowly swirled the golden liquid in his glass as he leaned lazily against the bar. His eyes were scanning the crowd in the room, searching. He had been glued to the same spot for over an hour, nursing the same drink, waiting and watching. His gaze traveled across the room once again and a small smile tugged at his lips as his eyes settled on the tall blond just entering the room. He brought the glass to his lips and swallowed the remaining liquid, then set the glass on the bar and tapped the rim. The bartender replaced the empty glass with a filled one and Jack lifted it to his lips while his eyes remained on the blond making her way slowly to the far end of the bar.

She was dressed in black leathers with a soft pink tee shirt peeking from beneath the open jacket. The room suddenly seemed warmer and Jack felt his heartbeat increase as he watched her, shifting slightly at his involuntary response. The outfit hugged her closely and Jack allowed his eyes to wander slowly up her body taking in each and every curve.

He sat unmoving, his gaze taking in every feature of her face as she ordered a drink. He watched, trancelike as she lifted the glass, mesmerized by her soft, sensuous lips. Then suddenly she was moving away from the bar and toward the pool tables where several locals were playing. He studied her closely as she integrated herself into the conversation and she seemed so at ease he wondered if she was acquainted with the players. A bemused smile crept onto his face and he lowered his body onto the stool as he continued to watch.

The bartender noticed his almost drooling state and followed his gaze to the tall blonde across the room. He playfully punched his shoulder and leaning in whispered, "So, she's back. Nice!"

Jack turned his head toward the man and raising his eyebrows quickly, responded, "Oh, yes. Very nice." Then quickly returned his eyes to the pool table and its recently improved view.

She wasn't flirting, exactly and he didn't think she'd seen him when she came in, so he just waited and watched. He could watch her for hours; days even, and he always discovered something new, something he hadn't noticed before. She was amazing.

Ah, the game was over and she was going to join the next one. So she wasn't flirting, she was hustling! This should be interesting. He settled back onto the stool and slowly surveyed her prey, the other players that stood around the table. After a few minutes of observation he decided that she didn't know them and they didn't know her. Well, it was a bit out of her normal territory, Washington was a bit distant from Colorado Springs to keep up with the bar regulars, although she had been stationed in this city for quite a while. Then again, she'd been gone for a while too, over eight years.

Jack's smile changed to a predatory grin as he watched first one, then the other man vie for her attention. They were flirting, and quite shamelessly. He watched silently as they talked and laughed. They bought her drinks and brushed their shoulders against her as they passed, trying to…what – arouse her with their touch? Circling her like predators advancing on prey, totally unaware that the roles could change in a heartbeat.

She was taking it easy on them, sinking a shot only now and then, luring them in, assessing her adversaries or maybe just having fun. He'd watched her play many times in the past and knew without doubt, that would change soon enough. Jack ordered another drink and moved to the end stool where he wouldn't be noticed but could still observe the game.

An hour later there was money on the table and the guys cheered when Sam sunk an almost impossible shot. His grin broadened. She was lining them up for the kill – prey had become predator. He thought he heard her say something about being 'lucky' and the guys agreed a bit too anxiously, while she continued to sink shots. In no time at all the table was clear and the faces of the men around the table were a little paler. He smiled knowingly as he watched her delicate fingers slide across the mahogany and gather up the stack of bills resting there. A brilliant smile lit her face as she slipped them into the front pocket of her leathers, lay down her que stick and sat down at a table.

"Uh oh!" Jack thought, "The jig is up." To his amazement the men didn't seem upset, but instead followed Sam to her table, still smiling and laughing. Now she was flirting. If he could see it across the room, then he had no doubt they saw it too. He watched closely as the men strutted their stuff, preening like peacocks before a desirable hen. He started to rise, then set his glass down on the table and smiled as she shook her head 'no' and laughed.

She was so beautiful; he really couldn't blame them for trying to impress her. He wasn't beyond that himself. Her eyes were bright with laughter and her hair was like a soft halo showering her face with golden flashes of light. His eyes traveled from her shoulders to her hip, lingered on the gentle curve then slowly traveled the distance to her ankles…that were covered in boots. 'Damn!' he thought to himself, 'she has such nice ankles, too. It seemed a shame to cover them - especially considering the rest of her outfit.' One of the men (who had apparently crashed and burned) walked back to the pool table to join another game leaving the younger, more handsome of the two alone with the beautiful blond.

The bartender chuckled and Jack shot a silent glare in his direction as he continued to watch the man flirting and teasing, then suddenly reaching out to touch her hair. Her arm came up in quick response and pushed his away. He tensed momentarily, but relaxed when he saw she was still smiling. Then the hand that had reached for her hair caught hers and held her tight. Their eyes met across the table and Jack saw the light deep within her eyes change every so slightly.

Jack sat his glass on the bar and faced the bartender. "Time to save the damsel in distress" he said, "before she kicks his ass." The bartender snorted a laugh and watched as Jack dropped a few bills on the bar, then tipped his imaginary hat and started casually across the room his eyes smiling and locked on Sam.

He could hear parts of their conversation as he approached, his smile turning into a warning glare as he closed the distance between them. The young man was using what must have been his most convincing smile and was leaning in towards her seductively.

"Come on, Sam, what do you say? It'll be a cool party! Just for a little while…."

"I'm sorry, I don't think so. I really should be going."

"Ah, come on…." His sentence died away and his smile faded as he suddenly realized someone was standing directly behind Sam. He raised his eyes to the tall intruder as Jack laid his left hand gently on Sam's shoulder. As she turned toward the touch, he bent and pressed his lips to the sweet spot on her neck. He felt her tense, then relax and her fingers grasp his for just a second before he pulled away. In one fluid motion he moved to her side and taking her hands lifted her effortlessly to her feet.

"Hello, beautiful. I've been waiting for you all my life." He smiled into her surprised blue eyes and watched as her smile blossomed across her face. "This guy's a bit young, don't ya think?"

Sam just stood there, 'doe in the headlights' allowing herself to be pulled into the mesmerizing dark pools that threatened to drown her. She opened her mouth but couldn't speak.

Not so, her companion.

"Hey, buddy! What do you think you're doing?" His voice was filled with surprise and anger as he spoke, obviously upset at Jack's intrusion.

Jack met his eyes for a moment and held him in a glare that caused the man to swallow the rest of his words and embrace silence. Sam dropped her head to hide the giggle she was trying to suppress. When she looked up again she was met with smoldering brown eyes that seemed to touch her soul.

Jack turned his gaze fully on Sam and slipped a hand around her waist, pulling her slightly towards him. "How about you come home with me?" He heard the guy across the table suck in a breath and practically yell, "What?"

Jack ignored him, except for deepening his smile and kept his eyes locked with Sam's, desire smoldering barely beneath the surface. She could feel the intensity of that smile warming her, igniting her own desire. She didn't speak, just slowly sucked in a breath and nodded her head.

The prospective suitor across the table jumped to his feet in disbelief as he saw her agreement, "What, you're buying that lame line?"

Jack smiled broadly and Sam broke their gaze to look at her shocked companion, "I'm sorry, Tom. I'm going with him."

"What the hell is going on?" He asked her, his face revealing his disbelief that he had just been tossed aside for this guy and his stupid 'pick-up line'. "Wha, what….just like that?"

A flash of sympathy touched her eyes before she returned her gaze to Jack and everyone else in the room seemed to disappear. Jack's smile simmered as he lifted his chin slightly and held her close to him as they walked away, leaving a totally shocked Tom at the table.

They crossed the room in silence and Jack pushed open the door, holding it for Sam as she passed through. Once outside he fell in step beside her and their hands brushed then locked, fingers intertwined.


"Yes, Sir?"

"Were you just flirting with that innocent guy?"

"Uh, yes, Sir, I think I…I think I was." Her head dipped down and she studied the suddenly very interesting pavement, trying not to giggle.

"Cruel, Carter, very cruel." He smiled slightly.

"Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir."

"Yeah, well, it's ok – this time."

"You probably destroyed his ego, Sir."

"Me? Yeah." Jack, unabashedly proud of his male prowess, smiled wickedly as he leaned over and brushed her lips with a gentle kiss then opened the car door. "Hey! You started it!" He walked around and let himself into the driver's side and slid behind the wheel, pausing as he turned to look at her. He lifted a hand to gently push away the strands of hair falling onto her face. "Sam?"


"Where's your bike?"

"I took a cab." She grinned innocently as she looked over at him, watching as understanding spread across his face.

"You did that on purpose!" He feigned anger as she smiled sweetly back at him.

"Hmm, well…."

"Guess you are coming with me then?"

"Oh, yes, Sir."

"Sooo…how long can you stay?"

Sam interlaced her fingers with his and smiled.