“I really need my phone—it’s on the dock where I dropped it. Hopefully. But I’m still cold.”
Still staring into her eyes, he pulled her tighter into him, and at the feel of her soft curves, his body gave up the valiant fight and tightened.
Some parts more than others.
He immediately began to work complicated calculus problems in his head, trying to remember the definition of the derivative of the function—
She pressed her icy feet against his calves, and he yelped like one of his sisters.
She laughed again, and he immediately lost track of calculus. All he could feel was her frozen limbs. Rubbing her arms to warm her up, he forced himself not to think about what she might look like under the blanket.
He failed miserably, which meant he was hard as a rock and buck-ass nekkid. And worse, she had to feel it pressing into her hip. He tried to pull back, but she made a soft, disagreeable sound and tightened her grip on him.
“You’re not warm yet?” he asked in a voice so low as to be almost inaudible.
He couldn’t help it. He didn’t have enough blood to run both heads. And on top of that, their bodies were melded together in a way that had him heated up and aching to lay her flat on her back on the bench and—
“You’re really warm,” she whispered.
Try hot as hell, babe. “I’ll go get your phone,” he said valiantly. “And something hot for you to drink.” Coffee, tea…me.
“Uh…” She shifted, bumping a bare thigh right into his erection.
He hissed out a breath as his hips gave an entirely instinctive roll to get closer. Christ. And there, perfect, now she was back to staring at him.
“You’re…” She broke off. “Um.”
“Yeah.” He was “um” all right. “Involuntary reaction,” he promised. “Just ignore it.”
“Seriously. Don’t give it another thought.” He went to shrug and had to bite back a grimace thanks to the pain in his shoulder. “Drink?” he asked again.
She bit her lower lip and nodded. “Tea, please.”
Tea for her, and never mind that it was the crack of dawn, he’d take a vodka, straight up. He grabbed a towel for coverage and worked at not further revealing himself, which involved gymnastics that should have won him a medal.
Olivia was smiling by the time he got all wrapped up. “I’ve already seen it all,” she reminded him.
“I really wish you’d stop smiling when you say that.” Shaking his head when her smile only widened, he moved up the stairs to go retrieve her phone for her, the irony that she was now amused instead of disgruntled—and he was disgruntled instead of amused—not escaping him.
Olivia watched Cole go, nothing but a towel low on his hips, the muscles in his back all taut and delineated—and perfect. He moved like an athlete, with easy, economical, and innately testosterone-fueled grace—
Her smile faded as he rolled a broad shoulder, his other hand settling on it to rub absently as if it ached.
He’d been hurt. Which meant she wasn’t the only one of them good at deflecting attention away from herself.
Not that this surprised her. There was a sharp intelligence in Cole’s eyes, which went along with his healthy survival instinct.
Damn. She still couldn’t believe what had just happened. She’d been out for an early walk on the dock when she’d seen a guy in a knit cap, sweatshirt, and cargo pants hit the water and go under. And yeah, she’d mistakenly assumed he’d needed help and had jumped in after him to try to save him. So what? It meant that she still had a heart, that she could indeed care about someone other than herself.
And that was a good thing. A relief, to be honest. But she was feeling pretty damn naked about now.
Oh, that’s right. She was naked.
At least Cole was in the same boat. His wet clothes were still lying at her feet, mixed in with hers, which gave the situation an air of intimacy that she could have done without.
As if being bare as on the day she’d been born didn’t do that all on its own.
She nudged the clothes with a foot and curled in on herself a little. Having spent her formative years on a TV set where assistants and dressers had tugged and pulled at her nonstop, she’d long ago lost her modesty in urgent situations. Cole had said strip, and she’d done so.
But at the memory of his shock when he’d realized she’d stripped to her birthday suit, her face flamed all over again.
Cole came back in less than a minute, handing over her phone.
“Thanks,” she said, and thumbed the screen to activate it. Four missed texts, three from her mom, and though they hadn’t actually spoken in weeks, her mom got right to the point.
TV Land called. Again. They need your commitment to do the retrospective show, and there’s talk of a spin-off series where they’d want your voice-over!!!
And then, time-stamped only two minutes later:
Hello??? Sharlyn?? This is the big break we’ve been waiting for…
First, Olivia really hated it when her mom called her Sharlyn. She knew Olivia had changed it years ago. And second—we? No. It was the break her mother had been waiting for. Olivia didn’t want a break. She’d had her one and only break when Not Again, Hailey! had been canceled shortly after her sixteenth birthday. Yes, she’d gone on to have a meltdown of epic proportions. Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus had nothing on her; hence the name change from Sharlyn Peterson to Olivia Bentley.