She rolled her eyes. “I’ll race you home. Loser has to tell me what happened today with his twin.”
“Nothing to tell,” he said.
She searched his gaze. “Nothing to tell? Or nothing to tell me?”
Stubborn, gorgeous, a wicked smart-ass, and sharp. God, he loved that. “We going to argue about this?”
“Don’t we argue about everything?”
“Good point,” he said. “Let’s settle this one like adults—in the bedroom, naked.”
But she didn’t smile. “I told you my stuff. It means you have to tell me your stuff.”
But he couldn’t. He slowly shook his head.
“Let it go,” he said.
“Look, Sophie, stop, okay? You set some boundaries and I’m trying to keep them for you, but it turns out I have some boundaries too.”
Her face went blank. “Right. Sorry.” She turned her board away and began to paddle.
He stayed where he was for a beat, hating himself. When he realized that she was seriously moving, working hard to lose him in nothing but that itty-bitty bikini, he went after her.
She moved faster, not giving up, even when the winds kicked in, blowing right at them, making the going all the more difficult. She simply faced the winds head-on, attacking the water with her paddle.
Much as, he now knew, she tackled life.
In any case, the view of her, slightly bent, a little bit of a wedgie going, was enough to fuel his fantasies and distract him so much that he actually forgot to beat her to the shore in front of his cabin.
She jumped off the board, dragged it up the sand enough that it wouldn’t float away. Then she headed straight for her boat.
Your own doing, he reminded himself. You had to remind her about the boundaries.
He started to follow her, but she picked up the pace.
“I’ll be in my shower,” he called after her. “My very hot shower.”
This made her stop short on the dock and go hands on hips. Still facing away from him, her head dropped low and she swore under her breath before kicking the boat. Slowly she turned to face him, her expression torn between lust for his hot water and a hesitation that made his heart feel a little too tight for his rib cage.
He crooked a finger at her.
She bit her lower lip in indecision—her blue lower lip—and he moved toward her, scooping up the shirt he’d left outside so he could drop it over her head.
It fell to her thighs, and she immediately hugged herself to hold the shirt closer to her chilled body. “Unlimited hot water,” he said. “And I just got new towels. Thick. Sitting on a heated towel bar even as we speak.”
He saw the towel lust in her eyes and he smiled. “And there’s also a room heater. You can crank it up. And after, I have hot chocolate.”
“You do not,” she said.
“You willing to risk it?”
“The boundaries,” she whispered.
Yeah, the boundaries. But here was the thing. He wasn’t ready to let her go. “The shower is a boundary-free zone,” he said.
She stared at him. “Are you sure?”
No, he wasn’t sure. He was talking out of his ass. But he nodded, and she did an about-face and then strode straight at him.
He started to lift his arms to pull her in, but she walked right past him, heading toward the cabin at a near run.
For his hot water.
In the boundary-free zone.
He really was an idiot. Catching up, he opened the front door for her, gesturing her in ahead of him.
She was seriously shivering now, and some of the wind had gone out of her sails. Feeling like a jerk, he took her hand and led her through the place, quiet as she stopped and stared.
“You leased this place furnished,” she said.
“But…the furniture’s gone.”
“That’s because I took it all to Goodwill,” he said. “I replaced the important stuff for now.” Bed, bedding, towels, and flat-screen TV.
“But you’re just leasing,” she said.
“Was. I’m buying it.”
She stumbled, and when he stopped, she plowed into him, all those delicious curves plastered to him. For a beat he reached back and held her there. Just until she found her feet.
And then he let her go. He considered it practice for when he had to let her go for real.
“You bought this place,” she said slowly.
“I wanted to have a home to come back to after I finish my service.” Dammit. Why did he feel defensive?