“Not helping,” she said. “I made the brownies last night. They were to be my reward if I survive this favor. I could use them right now.”
“I’ve got something better than chocolate.”
“No kidding,” she muttered.
He laughed and pulled the truck out onto the road. A few minutes later, they were driving up the bluffs. He parked and Olivia glanced around at the house at the top of the driveway and then the tumbling sea far below.
“What are we doing?” she asked. “Where are we?”
“My place,” he said. “I didn’t have time to stop at home before picking you up. I’ve just got to get the wine and beer I promised to bring tonight. Do you want to come in, or wait here?”
Their gazes met and held a moment. “I’ll come in,” she said. “But you should know it’s because I’m curious about your house, not because I want to do…” She almost said “it,” he could tell. “The wild monkey sex,” she said instead.
He grinned at her. “Look at you with the big-girl vocabulary.” He unlocked the front door and held it open for her to walk in ahead of him. “Fair warning,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting company.”
He’d had the house for a year now, and loved the small beach shack that he was slowly renovating. Slowly being the key word.
Olivia took in the sights. Cole looked around, trying to see his place as she might. The living room and kitchen were all one room, a wall of windows allowing a stunning view of the water.
That was his favorite part of the place.
There were some dishes on the counter, books on the kitchen table, and a tumble of shoes and boots in a huge wooden box, above which a ton of weather gear hung on pegs. Yeah, he probably could’ve done a better job on the cleanup efforts.
The furniture was big and comfy, and well used. The TV was a massive flat-screen, new. “Home sweet home,” he said.
“It’s nice,” she said.
“Working on it.” He stepped into the kitchen and grabbed the beer and wine. Striding toward Olivia, his little mermaid for the evening, he set the boxes down on the bench by the front door and stepped into her. “Hi.”
“Hi,” she said a little breathlessly. He wasn’t sure, it could’ve been how tight her costume was, but he wanted to think it was because of him. He ran his hands down her body. “I like this costume. A lot.”
“Yours isn’t bad either.” Her gaze lingered on his open shirt.
Her eyes dilated.
“Say the word,” he said, done teasing, “and we skip the party.”
“I’m wearing mermaid hair.”
“I know.” He wasn’t sure what that had to do with wild monkey sex. He let his fingers run through the hip-length red wig she was sporting, and because he was a multitasker, he could picture what she’d look like riding him in that wig, the locks flowing over her breasts, brushing his chest. It was a real good image. “I like the hair. And that skirt.”
“It took three of us to get me into this skirt,” she said. “Callie broke a nail and Becca fell on her ass helping me tug it into place. That should’ve been a clue.”
Cole had started to pull away but he stilled. “Your friends had to help you dress?”
She slid him a look. “Is that all you heard?”
“Pretty much,” he admitted.
“Oh, for God’s sake—”
“Shh a minute,” he said. “I’m not done picturing it.”
She shook her head and gave him a shove. Grinning, he pulled free, led her back to his truck, made sure she was buckled up, and shut the door.
“You mentioned surviving the night,” he said when they were on the road again. “What do I get if I survive the night?” he asked.
She glanced over at him, clearly startled. “Where are we going, exactly?”
He stopped at a light. “My sister’s annual Halloween surprise party for her husband.”
She stared at him like there were so many problems with that statement that she didn’t know where to start. “How can an annual party be a surprise?”
“My sister’s husband loves her, God knows why. She gets a kick out of giving him a surprise party, so he pretends to be surprised.”
More staring from gorgeous mermaid. “You’re bringing me to a family party,” she said.
She opened her mouth. And then closed it. “Is your family that bad that you need a prize to survive them?”
“There are days, yes,” he said.
She just stared at him.
“Don’t worry, they’re going to love you. And that costume? Hot. I’m going to have to fight off the cousins and brothers-in-law,” he said half jokingly as he pulled up to his sister’s house. There were already a bunch of cars, and judging from the loud music and laughter coming from the house, the party was already well under way. “Perfect. Looks like we’re late enough that everyone’s already going to be a few red Solo cups into the evening’s festivities.”
“Perfectly late,” he said.
She blinked at him. “So we’re at a family party, and we’re late. On purpose.”
She was mad, he realized. “I was saving you from having to be with them longer than necessary.”
“You were saving me,” she said, and then nodded. But then she shook her head. “And you think I’m going to make a good impression here. In a ridiculously revealing costume that screams ‘ho on a stick,’ and also, we’re late.”