“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.
No big surprise there. He got that. But when he’d first walked into the inn and seen her standing there, hair practically sizzling with fury, eyes bright, holding her own, he’d wanted to both cheer her on and slay her dragons for her.
It’d been hard to let her lead, but if he wanted a shot at making this smart, warm, feisty, amazing woman comfortable around him—and he did—he had to be the man she’d never let in before. “You ever wakeboard?” he asked.
She blinked. “No.”
“Your husband owns that boat and he never took you out on the water?”
“You’ve seen what he used the boat for,” she said.
Yeah, he should’ve beaten the guy to a pulp. “How about paddleboarding?”
She shook her head.
“Go change into a bathing suit.”
“Preferably a really itty-bitty, tiny bikini. The ittier the better. Five minutes.”
Was he serious? Sophie wondered. Five minutes to be bathing suit ready?
Did he not understand the concept of having to check if she needed to shave? Insta-tan? Wax? None of which could be done in five minutes.
While she sat gawking at him, Jacob got out of the truck and came around to open her door for her. He offered her a hand, nudged her toward her boat, and then strode off to his cabin.
Nope, correction, he went to the side of his cabin, where there were…oh God help her…two paddleboards leaning up against the siding.
Over his shoulder he smiled at what was surely a look of horror on her face. “Never pegged you for a chicken,” he said.
That did it. She whirled and went running to the boat to change.
“Five minutes,” he called after her in a voice she imagined had served him well in the military.
Over her shoulder she flipped him the bird. The sound of his answering chuckle had her smiling as she jumped on board. Smiling, after the shit day she’d had. It was a miracle, she thought.
No, wait. Not a miracle. It was Jacob Kincaid.
As it happened, she did own an itty-bitty bikini, one she’d bought on a whim during a Victoria’s Secret semiannual sale. She had yet to wear it because it showed an awful lot of Sophie.
Screw that, she told herself bravely, stripping and shoving herself into the thing—and she did mean shoving. She inspected her legs and decided that yesterday’s shave would have to do. As for a tan, well, that wasn’t going to happen, so she might as well own her white-girl skin. At the last minute she added a short, white camisole sundress that gave her at least the illusion of coverage.
She found him waiting on the water’s edge in front of his cabin in nothing but board shorts, and at the sight, she tripped over her own feet.
The man was ripped. He was leanly muscled from head to toe, and his shorts had slipped dangerously low, to just beneath hip muscles that could make a grown woman stupid.
He pointed to the boards, both in the water.
“How do I do this?” she asked.
“On your knees.”
She wondered if it was his voice or just the way he reeked of bad boy that made everything he said seem dirty. She went brows up.
He smiled. “Maybe later, if you’re good.”
She flushed and waded out until the water lapped at her calves.
“Not sure the dress is a great idea,” he said.
“Trust me, it’s a great idea.”
He shrugged and steadied the board while she got on her knees and tested her balance. He handed her a long black paddle and showed her how to hold it. “Stay on your knees until you’re comfortable,” he said. “You can push to your feet when you’re ready.”
She nodded and then watched as he mounted his board, not going to his knees at all, but standing straight up on his feet with an ease and agility that she knew she could never match.
“Hey,” she said. “Why don’t you have to start out on your knees?”
“I never get on my knees on the first date.”
She choked out a laugh, and he flashed her a smile that sent heat and desire, instead of blood, skittering through her veins. He pushed off ahead of her, showing her the best way to maneuver, and she watched him carefully.
Okay, so she watched his ass carefully. Hey, it was a grade-A ass!
He craned his neck and caught her staring, sending her a look that had her burning up from the inside out. Doing something with his pole, he stopped dead in the water and…she sailed right past him.
“Hey,” she said, panicking.