I shrug. “Don’t quite understand what you’re getting at, either.”
“Yesterday. On the beach. You were staring at me while I was in the cabana. Or maybe you don’t remember?” The question is more like a challenge.
As if I could forget. “Can’t a man admire a pretty girl when he sees one?” I smile sheepishly, going for the oops, busted look, and I see her expression soften the slightest bit.
Almost got her.
“Well.” She clears her throat and stands up a little straighter, thrusting her chest out. Damn, the woman is going to kill me with that smokin’-hot body, I swear. “Now that we got the awkward part of the conversation out of the way, I want to thank you again for rescuing me. I got pulled under the water and started to panic and … I’m not sure what would’ve happened if you hadn’t come along.” The worry in her voice is blatant and tugs at something deep inside me. But I need to play it off, resisting the urge to wrap her up in my arms and clutch her tight.
“It’s a good thing I did then, huh?” I offer a smile, a big one this time, not my usual style. I’ve spent far too much time walking around with a permanent scowl on my face and I swear the muscles in my cheeks are already trembling with exertion. “Glad I could help you.”
“Can I ask you a question?” When I nod, she continues. “Why didn’t you stick around? After I blacked out?” She crosses her arms in front of her, plumping up her breasts the slightest bit, offering me a glorious view of her cleavage. I try not to look, but it’s damn difficult. “Didn’t you want to make sure I was all right?”
“I knew you were in good hands.” An exaggeration if there ever was one, since that kid who worked for the hotel was an utter failure.
“Really.” Her gaze drops to my hands, which are currently resting on my stomach, fingers linked, pose casual. “Because I thought your hands were pretty good.”
Her words stun me silent. Now I’m the one who feels tense, restless. Having her this close, listening to her lyrical voice, seeing the light sheen of sweat that coats her skin, inhaling the scent of her, heady and sweet …
Fuck. It’s taking everything inside of me to keep from grabbing her and hauling her into my arms.
She’s staring, looking like she’s waiting for me to say something else, so I fill the silence. “Plus I had to leave.”
Her arms drop to her sides and I swear she looks the slightest bit defeated. “Oh. Of course. Back to your wife?”
I glance at the empty lounger right next to mine. “No,” I say slowly, wondering what she’s getting at.
“Your girlfriend, then,” she suggests, her tone flat. First she flirts, now she fishes.
“Don’t have one of those either.” I shake my head. She’s not coy. Her bluntness is surprising, but then again, not. That she wants to see if I’m here with someone is … interesting.
And allows me an opportunity.
“So you’re here alone.”
“Yeah.” I let my gaze trail over her, from the top of her head on down, lingering on the good bits, which there are plenty of, though she can’t tell what with my sunglasses on. “How about you?”
She smiles. “I shouldn’t admit shit to you.”
I laugh, surprised again at her brutal honesty. “Smart move.”
“Hey, I learned about stranger danger in elementary school.” Her smile is blinding. Pretty, straight teeth flash at me for the briefest moment and I’m a little dazzled from the sight.
Keep your head on straight, asshole.
“Well, my name is Max.” I sit up once more and hold out my hand to her.
She takes a tentative step forward and slips her hand into mine, the bandaged one. Despite the barrier, her touch is like an electrified jolt to my system, and I clasp her hand gently, not wanting to hurt her. “Lily,” she offers softly.
I grin. Don’t let go of her hand. “I guess this makes us not strangers anymore, huh, Lily?”
Her answering grin sends a surge of lust straight to my cock. She carefully extracts her hand from my hold. “I guess you’re right.”
“Care to join me?” I indicate the empty lounge chair next to me with a slight inclination of my head.
Her gaze shifts to the chair briefly before returning to mine. “I’m afraid I have to decline.”
“But it was great meeting you.” She offers me a little wave before she starts to turn away. “Bye, Max.”
I watch her retreat, my gaze dropping to her ass, watching the material of her bikini bottom rise and offer me a glimpse of her perfectly round, perfectly smooth cheeks. My hands itch to touch her there.
Touch her anywhere.
“See you around,” I call after her, but she doesn’t look back. As if she knows I’m watching her, lusting after her, wishing I could have her, yet she can walk away so easily. Like I’m no big deal. Like I don’t affect her whatsoever.
I think I might, though. And now that we’ve met, know each other’s names, I’m not going to waste time. I need to make my next move.
MY WATCHER GAVE UP watching over me.
Last night I ate dinner alone, in too much pain and too woozy from the medication I took to go out. Tonight, the thought of another lonely meal by myself in my room—yes, fine, it’s a gorgeous bungalow with an amazing view of the ocean, but still—depressed the hell out of me. So I dressed up and decided to take myself out.