Her gaze flew to his.
“Problem is,” he said conversationally, “if I kissed you, I don’t think I’d be able to stop.”
Her mouth literally fell open. The pulse at the base of her throat jumped. And she seemed to lose her words.
He went on. “But you should know, I don’t lose. That means you’ll have to tell me three truths and a lie.”
And he’d hopefully get to know more about her.
She closed her mouth to bite her lower lip in what could’ve been indecision or excitement. Obviously he was hoping for the latter. “But hey, if you’re not sure you can handle losing, we can just forget about it,” he said.
The challenge lifted her chin and put sparks in her eyes. That’s it, babe. Show me what you’ve got.
“Bring it,” she said. “Three truths and a lie, and if I guess the lie, I…” Again, she tortured her lower lip.
“Say it, Sophie.”
She squirmed a little bit. “I kiss you.”
“And in reverse?”
She paused, and he cocked a brow. “You kiss me,” she said softly but with unmistakable interest.
Christmas in June.
“Another drink first,” she said, and took hers before giving him the bottle. Holding her gaze, he drank too.
“You go first,” she said.
“Hell no,” he said on a low laugh.
“Why not?” she demanded.
“You’re a flight risk.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because you’ve already run away from me at least twice now. Plus, you’re eyeing the alcohol like it’s a Hawaiian getaway.”
She tilted her head and studied him frankly, not playing shy or coy in the slightest. She’d been right—she didn’t play games—and he realized he was smiling again. Clearly she was down but not out, and he liked her attitude. He liked it a lot.
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll go first, you big baby. But there’s no way you’ll be able to pick out my lie.” She said this smugly. “No one can ever tell when I’m lying.”
He knew that was probably true. For all her fiery temperament, she was all talk, no go. She hid behind the tough-girl facade, and clearly the people in her life had let her.
But he knew a little something about hiding, too, and it hadn’t ever worked out well for him. He was changing that. And if he had to, well, they said misery loved company. He smiled. “Try me,” he said. “And no ‘my favorite color is red and I like long walks on the beach and I’m a natural blonde and I hate ice cream’ bullshit either. It’s gotta be something good. In fact, I think the other person gets to set the topic. And the topic I set for you is…reasons you’re on this boat you hate. Go.”
She rolled her lips together, eyes on his as she thought so hard he could practically hear the wheels spinning. “Okay,” she finally said. “One, I love this boat very much. Two, I happen to think it’s very freeing to live out here on the water, very freeing. Three, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. And four, I’m just waiting for my overnight boat pass to be approved and then I can better settle in and won’t bother you again.” She turned her face skyward and closed her eyes, like all was right in her world and she hadn’t just fed him four fat lies.
He took another drink, and when she finally opened her eyes and looked at him, he handed her the bottle to do the same.
“Well?” she demanded.
He nudged the bottle to her lips and watched as she took a sip. “You cheated,” he said.
She choked on a laugh and coughed.
Thinking she was going to lose a lung, he leaned in and rubbed her back firmly, absolutely not noticing how soft her skin was or how she felt beneath his hand.
Finally, she swiped her eyes and gave him a look from beneath lowered lashes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You cheated,” he said again, “because all of your answers were lies.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. When she opened her mouth, he shook his head, cutting off whatever she might have said next. “Don’t make it worse for yourself by adding yet another lie,” he teased.
She let out a low laugh. “No one’s ever been able to tell—”
“Oh, you’re good,” he assured her. “I’m just better.”
She looked intrigued at this, like maybe she was realizing they both had their ghosts. “Hmm,” she said.