Author's Note: Rated T for suggestive themes and instances of strong language… This is set in the neutral backdrop of New York City and does not follow current storylines, but does use some canon from past story lines.

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Dance With Me

Maxie knew it was a bad idea to come to this party with Johnny. He'd barely made it past the Red Carpet and already business had dragged him away. Her radar told her it was more likely a woman than actual business that was dragging him away. Not that it mattered, really. It wasn't like that between her and Johnny. Sure, they'd had hot self-destructive sex a time or two, but they were more friends and fuck buddies than anything else. However, when your ex would be showing up at a MAJOR fashion industry party with the still-GORGEOUS former Face of Deception model turned high-powered attorney, Gia Campbell, it never does good things for the self-image or public image to be alone no matter how fabulous you look in your Valentino Original, Dior bag and Christian Louboutin heels.

Comparisons would be made, and she could not come out looking pathetic, which she would without a date. She'd seen them, but steered clear so far. Unfortunately, they'd finally spotted her schmoozing and she was trapped if she didn't think of something. Suddenly, she heard titters nearby and felt a presence and was as quick on her feet as always causing him to 'accidentally' bump into her. "Oh," she squeaked turning to find the gorgeous male heir to Forrester Creations, Thomas Forrester.

She'd heard word that his sister, Steffy, might show, but him? He was perfect in EVERY way and if her sources were to be believed—and they were—things between him and Caroline Spencer of the Spencer Publications media dynasty had ended a little over a month ago and he was back on the market if not back on the prowl. This could end up working out even better than I hoped! she thought to herself.

"I'm so sorry," he apologized sincerely, his deep voice resonating through her body, giving her goosebumps. "Are you ok?"

This one could be dangerous, her mind warned to be completely ignored as usual. "I've been better," she admitted with her quirky sense of charm. "But I'd be willing to let you make it up to me."

"Oh, really," he responded, his eyes lighting with humor and a boyish grin spreading across his face. "And how's that?"

"To start?" she quipped coquettishly startling a laugh out of him. "Dance with me."

"Well, it is the least I could do," he agreed taking her hand.

"Oh, the very least," she assured him sparkling up at him from every pore feeling every eye in the room follow her in envy and for the first time in her life, with the exception of falling for Spinelli, not caring at all.

Thomas had come to this party on his sister's demand. She said she was sick of him moping over Caroline, when the break up was so CLEARLY her loss. He'd been having trouble believing that until he'd literally tripped over the vivacious blonde who demanded he dance with her and fit so perfectly in his arms. Now, he was pretty sure he was going to owe his little sis HUGE.

"So, Mr. Forrester, is there anything about you that isn't perfect?" the gorgeous blonde asked coyly. "Because I gotta say you're a gorgeous, wealthy, educated, incredibly talented, kind and charming gentleman. Not to mention, young and one hell of a dancer. I've only known you for a few minutes and you're giving me a complex."

He laughed again. Something about the spitfire, just made him want to smile and he decided to follow her lead. "Well, it would appear that I'm clumsier than I thought since I tripped over you," he flirted. Neither notice the flash of their photograph being taken. "Not that I can see that as a flaw since it ended with you in my arms."

"See, perfect," she chuckled. "And that's too bad, Mr. Forrester, because perfect gentlemen tend to miss out on all the fun."

"I can assure you, I may have been raised a gentlemen, but perfect I am not," he assured her. "Now, call me Thomas. My father and grandfather are the Misters Forrester. However, you have me at a disadvantage. I need to know what name to put to your number for when I call you."

"Who says you'll be getting past tonight, Tommy Boy," the sparkling blonde teased. "But feel free to call me Maxie Jones, junior editor for—"

"Couture Magazine," he finished. "I knew you looked familiar. I've enjoyed your work. So where's your doctor boyfriend? Won't he take objection to me stealing away the woman behind his success?"

"You should ask him," Maxie tossed out with a flippant tone he'd heard his sister use all too often to hide her pain. "He's around here somewhere with his date, former Face of Deception, Gia Campbell. Although, he'd have to still be in the picture to be considered a boyfriend."

"No escort that I'll have to pretend to care that I'm stealing you away from, either I hope," he whispered into her ear feeling her shiver.

"You're in luck," she replied breathily. "He had to leave early because of personal business. So whose eyes will I have to scratch out to keep you all to myself?"

"No need," he assured her. "Firstly, Steffy only required my presence and not my time or attention. Secondly, my sister bites."

"Gotta respect a girl who isn't afraid to fight dirty to get what she wants," she chuckled with an edge in her voice. "Got a problem with that kinda fight in a girl?"

Maxie surreptitiously held her breath. She may have gone too far with that, but as ridiculous as it was she could feel herself falling for Thomas. She'd never believed in love at first sight, but that seemed to be changing.

"They're the best kind," he rasped.

"Good answer," she sighed happily surprised that it was not accompanied by the crushing fear of screwing up and disappointing this man.

"Now I got a question for you," he retorted his eyes darkening to reveal hidden depths. "Got a problem with that kinda fight in a guy?"

"Wouldn't want you any other way," she replied seriously. "We are talking about you, right?" He nodded. "Good. I like rough edges on virtually perfect gentlemen. Very sexy."

"You're very sexy," he retorted grazing her earlobe so surreptitiously she doubted anyone caught it. "What do you say I become your date for the rest of the night?"

"I say," she began coyly, "that you have amazing ideas. How about you seal it with a cold beverage?"

"You gonna tell me," he asked. "Or you gonna make me guess?"

"Oh, you're guessing Tommy Boy," she giggled as he led her toward the bar. "This is a test."

"Dom Perignon 1982 with 2 cherries," he ordered, when her face showed hesitation. "Trust me. You'll love it and me for introducing you to it."

"Ok," she accepted hesitantly. "It's your test to pass or fail."

"And I'll have a Shirley Temple," he said placing his order.

Maxie had to smile. "Are you trying to get me drunk?"

"Not my style," he said simply before leaning down to her whisper in her ear. "I prefer you fully alert to, aware of, and active in every second our time together."

Maxie smiled as he took their glasses and handed her the champagne flute. "Cheers."

He watched as she took her first sip. He enjoyed how the enjoyment flushed her face and added even more sparkle to those star shine eyes. "And?"

"You're right," she conceded. "It's amazing!"

"Maxie!" came the over loud voice of her pompous doctor ex-boyfriend. "It's so nice to see you. You remember Gia Campbell, my date."

"Of course, the stunning former Face of Deception who walked away from fashion for law school yet still wears Prada like no other," Maxie chirped obviously in work mode. "Couture would love to do a feature on how your life has evolved from then to now. And how you managed to not age day while doing it?"

"Only if you promise to do the interview, yourself, because then I'm sure it'll be a blast," she replied with genuine smile. "Little Maxie Jones. I remember an adorable spunky girl, not this ravishing, accomplished young fashionista before me. I'm impressed."

"You are too nice," Maxie chuckled kindly. "No wonder you left this vicious industry for a kinder, gentler business." They shared a laugh. "I'm so sorry. I'm being rude. Thomas, this is Dr. Matt Hunter and the exquisite Gia Campbell. Matt, Gia, this is my date, Thomas Forrester."

"Of Forrester Creations? The genius behind the Taboo line?" Gia squealed. "And I didn't think I could still be starstruck by almost anyone in the business, but I was obsessed with your line. It broke my heart when they stopped production. There was this red off-the-shoulder dress that I coveted, but never got to make my own."

"Well, it's possible," he said dropping his voice conspiratorially, leaning in for affect. "I could provide you with a one of a kind, original for your very own and we could have some exclusive samples from my top-secret new line provided for your shoot and interview with Maxie. It would be Forrester's honor for you to keep everything we send, of course."

"You don't play fair," Gia groaned reaching into her bag for a card and handed it to Maxie. "That one's a keeper. He's dangerous. Now Maxie, NO ONE sees that number, but you, not even—no ESPECIALLY not that boss of yours—or the interview is off regardless. Carly would have a heart attack, and I'd never hear the end of it, but she likes you. That is to my personal secretary. She'll fit you into my calendar and then I'll be yours."

"Absolutely," Maxie assured her slipping the card into a clutch.

"Let's go, Matt," she chuckled taking Dr. Hunter's hand. "Now that my weakness for Thomas Forrester's designs has been exploited, I feel the need to lick my wounds a touch more privately. Don't forget to call me, Maxie. I want that dress and the rest of those designs."

Once the pair was out of earshot, Maxie turned to Thomas and took his hand. "How about some fresh air?" she suggested pulling him onto the nearby terrace. She glanced around quickly, checking for witnesses before dragging his mouth down to hers.

Heat lightening ricocheted through them as what was supposed to be a light celebratory tasting of lips quickly became a desperate, passionate devouring of mouths that them both devastated. "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," Thomas cracked into their shocked silence.

As Maxie stared at this incredible man, for the first time she knew something that mattered more than the fear that she would screw up yet again, and laughed with a heart that suddenly felt freer. "I couldn't agree more."

The End