“You w-w-want me to freak out?” she asked. “No? Then s-s-strip, Donovan.”
Bossy thing, wasn’t she.
“N-n-now,” she added, eyes sparking.
Yeah, bossy. And he liked it. “Whatever you say.” Still covered by the blankets, he shucked out of his pants—feeling more than just a twinge of pain in his shoulder now, something he ignored—and kicked the material away. “Better?”
“Are y-y-you…smiling?” she asked in disbelief.
He didn’t even try to hide it. “A beautiful woman just ordered me to strip,” he said. “But not because she wants my body. It’s funny, so yeah, I’m smiling.”
“Oh p-p-please,” she scoffed, and surprised the hell out of him by leaning in and carefully dabbing at the cut on his temple with the edge of a towel. “I’ve s-s-seen you and your partners,” she said, eyeing the cut and apparently deciding he was going to live. “You’re all l-l-listed on Lucky Harbor’s Tumblr as some of the hottest guys in t-t-town,” she said in a tone that didn’t suggest she was all that impressed by the dubious title. “I know you’ve got to have game.”
Seemed he wasn’t the only one warming up—her teeth were rattling less and less.
“You could probably turn a woman’s head with a single crook of your finger,” she muttered, rolling the towel to get to a clean spot to press against his temple.
He didn’t just smile now, he out-and-out laughed.
“What’s so funny now?”
“I was the runt all the way through high school. Small and skinny, and sickly too, even ending up in the hospital annually for strep and pneumonia. I’ve never crooked my finger at a woman in my life, though that’s definitely a skill I wouldn’t mind acquiring.” Luckily, in his senior year, he’d finally had his tonsils removed, and in the next year he’d grown eight full inches and gained fifty pounds of muscle, which had come in handy when he’d been working on the oil rigs. Unfortunately, there hadn’t been a lot of women on those rigs.
In fact, there’d been a total of three.
Given the odds—eighty-five guys to three women—Cole had done pretty well for himself, considering. But that was then.
He, Sam, and Tanner had come back to Lucky Harbor after the rig fire, having lost Gil. And in the time since losing his best friend, and then his father last year as well, he hadn’t had much game at all.
Correction. He’d had no game. “If I could turn a woman’s head that easily,” he said, “you’d be doing something other than dabbing the cut on my forehead.”
She went still for a beat, her eyes wide on his. He had no idea what was in her head, but he knew what was in his—the feel of the soft, curvy body practically in his lap.
And he nearly choked when she lifted the blanket and took a peek at him. “What the hell—”
She raised her gaze to his. “You left your underwear on.”
“Yes,” he said.
“But you told me to strip, and I did.”
“I didn’t say strip everything,” he said. “It never occurred to me that you’d lose the undies. Hot as they are.”
They both stared at the black lace lying innocuously on the floor. She flushed and lifted her chin. “Well, there’s only one thing to do now,” she said.
“You have to do the same.”
“Excuse me?” he asked.
“Drop the boxers.”
He stared at her. “Tell me the truth. You hit your head, too, right?”
“No. And I’m not kidding,” she said, jabbing him in the chest with a finger. “Lose ’em, or a freakout of epic proportions will commence in three. Two. One—”
“Jesus, hang on.” He worked at shedding his boxers, doing his best to keep covered by the blanket. “I can’t believe you looked after I promised not to look at you—”
“Yes, well, one of us isn’t a gentleman, now are we?” she asked.
A short laugh escaped him, which he cut off when she—holy shit—lifted the blanket and peeked again.
Grabbing the blankets like a virgin at a frat sleepover, he swore. “Jesus, woman!”
“Just making sure,” she said.
“Sure of what?”
Looking pretty damn pleased with herself, she laughed.
And damn, she had a smile on her. Mischievous and full of secrets, but still contagious. “Okay,” he said. “I like that look on your face much better than the abject misery you were wearing, but didn’t anyone ever tell you not to look at a naked man and laugh?”
She just laughed again, the sound soft and musical and somehow both sexy and sweet at the same time.
He sighed. “At least you’re warming up.”
“A little,” she allowed.
“Maybe I should peek to make sure.” Teasing, he made to lift the blankets.
With a squeak, she fisted them tight to her chest. “Don’t you dare!”
“Uh-huh. What’s good for the goose and all that.” All he could see of her over the pile of blankets was her face, those fathomless eyes, and all that wet, dark hair. She smelled like ocean and sexy woman—his favorite scent—and he was suddenly struck by how beautiful she was.
Oh shit, Donovan, don’t go there…
He had to clear his throat twice to answer. “Yeah?”