Olivia’s head jerked up, and her dark eyes met Cole’s. “Wh-wh-what?”
Not good, he thought. She wasn’t tracking. “Your clothes are keeping you cold,” he explained as gently as he could. “So you gotta lose ’em. Towel dry and then we’ll wrap you in blankets.” He kicked off his boots and pulled off his water-laden sweatshirt, which hit the floor like a fifty-pound weight. “I’ve got spare clothes here. I’ll get you something to wear.” His T-shirt went next. Another thunk.
Not moving, she stared at his chest. “You’re c-c-crazy if you think I’m g-g-going to s-s-strip—”
“That,” he said, “or I call nine-one-one. Nonnegotiable, Olivia.”
She blinked. “You kn-kn-know my name?”
“Yeah. You’re the woman who watches me and the guys surf while pretending to talk to Becca. Get moving, Supergirl.”
“I d-d-don’t watch,” she said, her gaze still lingering on his chest.
He had to laugh. “Okay, fine. You don’t watch us.” And he was the Tooth Fairy.
“And I’m f-f-fine,” she said with a shiver that nearly threw her off the bench.
“You’re blue, is what you are. You could pass for a Smurf.”
She flashed those dark eyes at him. Clearly she had plenty on her mind, but she was shaking too hard to let him have it. Lucky him.
“Look,” he said. “I’ll close my eyes, okay? And it’s not like we’re going to do the stupid chick flick thing where we have to get into bed together to warm each other up.”
“G-g-good, ’cause if you tried it, you’d be w-w-walking funny tomorrow.”
If she could toss out threats like that, she probably wasn’t in immediate danger of dying from hypothermia. But caution and safety first, as he’d learned the hard way over the years. “You’re still shaking badly,” he said. He grabbed a huge beach towel and shook it out, holding it up between them.
Instead of jumping up to follow his unspoken command, she narrowed her eyes.
But she wasn’t the only one who could play tough-as-hell. “Strip,” he said again, losing the gentle voice and going with the one he’d used as chief positioning operator and navigator, directing crews on the rigs. “Or I’ll do it for you.”
In truth, this was an empty threat, but the Boss Voice got through to her. She stood up, glaring at him before ducking behind the towel.
There was some movement, some rustling, which he took as a good sign. “We’ll get you dry,” he said, staring up at the ceiling to avoid catching a peek at her. “And then I’ll find you a pair of sweats and help you break into your place, since you lost your keys trying to kill me—er, save me.”
Her head reappeared for the sole purpose of delivering a pretty impressive eye roll, then she vanished behind the towel again. When he heard the heavy, wet thud of her clothes hitting the floor, he leaned forward and wrapped the towel around her body as best he could. His fingers inadvertently brushed the soft, wet skin of her shoulders and back, and he had to force himself not to think about the fact that she’d dropped her sweater and jeans. He was about to do the strip routine himself, and he didn’t want to be sporting wood while he was at it. “Dry off,” he said, and stepped back from her.
She nodded but didn’t move.
“Olivia?” he asked.
Her face was a mask of misery. “M-m-my arms won’t w-w-work.”
Shit. He quickly and gently pushed her back down to the bench, sat at her side, and began to pile blankets over the top of them both.
“W-what are you d-doing?”
“Sharing my body heat,” he said.
“I c-c-can’t feel any h-h-heat.”
“You will.” Beneath the blankets, he reached for the towel she still had wrapped around her. “Don’t freak,” he warned. “I’m just going to remove the wet towel and pull you into me.”
She opened her mouth, but using her sluggishness to his benefit, Cole quickly stripped the towel away from her, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her into him as two things happened simultaneously. One, she squeaked. Probably trying to formulate her next threat.
And two—holy shit—he realized she was completely, totally, one hundred percent naked beneath the layer of blankets.
And pissed. “Y-y-your pants!” she gasped. “Th-th-they’re c-c-cold!”
“Sorry, but I’m trying to do the right thing here,” he said through clenched teeth. He couldn’t see a thing below her neck, but he could sure as hell feel her. His hands were on her hip and low on her back, respectively, not touching anything he shouldn’t be, but damn she was soft, and at the feel of her, his brain clicked off. Just completely flatlined.
“I’m n-n-naked,” she snapped.
And oh, how well he knew it. He was pretty sure her nipples were boring holes in his chest. Just thinking about it had him warming up considerably. In fact, he might be starting to sweat. It’d been a while, but he was pretty sure he remembered nipples being one of his favorite parts of a woman’s body—
She gave him a shove.
“Sorry,” he said. “But you don’t want me to go away. I’m the one making you warm.”
“N-n-not what I m-m-mean,” she said. “Y-y-you have to be n-n-naked too!”
He stared at her. “That’s a really bad idea.”