Finn and Joe rushed forward like eager puppies, grabbing the brown bag. Well, Joe grabbed the bag and Finn grabbed Pru, the two of them in a tight lip lock like they hadn’t just seen each other earlier in the day. In fact, given how they were busy eating each other’s face, it was as if they hadn’t seen each other in years.
Leaving the lovebirds at the car, Joe smiled at Kylie and Elle. “Ladies, welcome. Come to the fire and get warm.”
“We’re not staying,” Elle said.
“Oh just for a few minutes?” Pru asked, tearing her mouth from Finn’s to do so. “Please?”
Elle looked down at her heels. She’d assumed they were doing a quick turn and burn. It was Saturday but she’d worked regardless and had left straight from the office. And since she hadn’t expected to stay, she hadn’t bothered to change.
Joe took in the problem with one sweep of his observant gaze. “Hold on,” he said, and running to the fire, he shoved the bag into Spence’s arms and then ran back for Elle.
Before she could stop him, he’d scooped her up and carried her to the fire. “I know how you feel about camping,” he said earnestly.
“Joe,” she said on a laugh. “Put me down.”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes!” Under any other circumstances, she might’ve enjoyed the physical contact of being up against a man. Joe was tall and built and sexy as hell. He had a trouble-filled smile that promised a girl a good time, and she knew thanks to gossip that he had the moves to back up that unspoken promise.
But the only thing she had backing up was the air in her lungs because she could feel Archer’s gaze on her. Dark. Assessing.
“It’s not that Elle doesn’t do camping or bears,” he said dryly. “She doesn’t do hiking shoes. Or, apparently, jackets.” With that, he shrugged out of his down parka and came toward her.
The initial buzz of warmth at the realization of how well he knew her vanished when she saw his intention. “Not necessary,” she said, eyes glued to the midnight blue flannel shirt he wore beneath, opened over a matching T-shirt, both stretching to accommodate his broad shoulders.
“Your lips are blue,” he said. He wrapped her up in his jacket, which was deliciously warm from his body heat and, adding to the torture, also smelled like him. Which was to say delicious.
She opened her mouth to say something, she had no idea what, but it didn’t matter because the minute he’d finished tucking her into his jacket, he turned away from her and headed back to the fire.
“I’m not cold,” Pru said. “I’m wearing my new camping jeans. They’re fleece lined.” She executed a little twirl. “They’re thick, so as a bonus, I won’t get any splinters sitting on that log in front of the fire.” She stilled and then twisted around, trying to see her own ass. “Wait. Are they too thick? Do they make me look fat?”
The look of panic on Finn’s face did improve Elle’s mood very slightly.
Pru gave him the big eyes. “Do they?”
“No.” Finn looked a little like a deer in the headlights. “No. Of course not.”
Joe nudged him. “Man, when a woman asks if she looks fat, it’s not enough to say no. You gotta look and act surprised by the question. Leap backward if necessary.”
Finn grabbed Pru and pulled her down into his lap and sank his fists in her hair, staring into her eyes. “I don’t think you look fat in those jeans. I don’t think you look fat in anything. Or in nothing at all. I love every inch of you.”
Pru grinned. “Thanks, babe. I love you too.”
He narrowed his eyes. “That was a test.”
“Yes.” She kissed him. “But don’t worry. You passed.”
Elle felt another little tug of envy and wondered if she’d ever feel so comfortable with someone that she could open herself up like Pru had, in front of an audience no less, as if she didn’t care if the entire world knew how much she loved Finn. Elle had always assumed that kind of love made one weak. But nothing about what Pru and Finn had felt weak to her.
They roasted marshmallows. Elle was trying hard not to rush Pru, but she really wanted to get out of there before she did something stupid. Like melt a marshmallow over Archer’s hot bod and lick it up.
“Truth or dare!” Joe decided, handing out beers to everyone.
“What, are we twelve?” Elle asked.
Joe just grinned, looking very relaxed, reminding her that the guys had a head start on the beer. An all-day head start.
This came from Archer, uttered in his low, sexy voice, and her stomach executed a free fall. She risked a peek at him and caught sight of a predatory smile barely curving his lips. She shifted a bit. Was it hotter all of a sudden? Or was that only her internal temperature that had skyrocketed? “I just think that games are dumb—”
“Me first!” Pru said happily, clasping her hands. “Spence! Truth or dare?”
He thought about it until Pru gave him a hurry-up gesture.
“Give me a minute,” he said. “I’m trying to decide how evil you’re going to be if I choose dare.”
Pru smiled, and Spence swore. “Okay,” he said, “so very evil. Truth.”
“Well that’s no fun.” She pouted.
“What’s no fun is taking a dip in the river in February. Truth,” he repeated firmly.
“Hmm.” Pru stared at him intently. “What do you want out of life?”
He stroked his chin, giving it serious thought. “Tacos. What?” he said when she rolled her eyes. “We had fish but I’m still hungry. Did you bring anything besides s’mores stuff?”
Spence was always hungry. They all ignored him.
“Me next!” Kylie called out, bouncing on the log on which she sat, clapping her hands. “Elle. Truth or dare?”
Elle narrowed her eyes. “Why me?”
“Truth or dare?” Kylie repeated.
She sighed. “Truth. But only because I’m not leaving this log for any stupid dare.”
“Okay,” Kylie said so happily that Elle knew she’d walked right into Kylie’s plans, whatever they might be. “You always look so fantastic and perfectly put together.”
“Thanks but that wasn’t a question,” Elle said.