THE MAN SHE COULDN’T REFUSE
Jack: U there?
“I don’t know about you, but I am so hungry,” Levi groaned a full ninety minutes later as he leaned against the bathroom doorjamb and watched her towel dry from the shower.
“Really? That’s a relief, I thought you were really the living dead or a vampire or something. All nocturnal hyperactivity with no need for real fuel.”
“I’m about to pass out. I’m only keeping upright through sheer grit. Refusing to be embarrassed by flaking out in front of you.”
“Come on.” He walked to the dresser, rummaged then threw a clean, white shirt at her. “Food. Water.”
Becca pulled on her bra, buttoned the shirt and rolled back the over-long sleeves. “You got shorts to go with these?”
He sent her a look—pure lasciviousness. “Really?”
“Yes, really. There’s a crew up there, right?”
“Right.” He rummaged some more.
Five minutes later, with a theatrical flourish, he ushered her to the deck. Becca glanced around, but it was like a ghost ship—all finely furnished but no people in sight.
Levi walked forward and took a seat in the lounge area. “Oh, look. It’s ready.” He relaxed down into one of the soft chairs.
“How did that happen?” Becca gazed at the spread of food on the low table—a giant platter of fresh tomatoes, olives, cheeses, bread, crackers, wine and water.
“I might have sent the crew a text when you visited the bathroom.”
And she was so pleased he had. “There’s enough here for a warehouse full of revelers.”
“It’s after lunchtime. We missed dinner last night and breakfast.”
“You could have declined my attentions and gone for the food instead,” she said archly, reaching forward to snaffle some of the small, cherry tomatoes.
“You think I’m crazy? Why would I waste a minute eating cucumber when I could be with you?”
Her cheeks burned and she glanced around to make sure none of the crew had appeared within earshot.
Levi laughed. “A night of absolute debauchery and you can still blush. I’m impressed.”
She popped a tomato into her mouth and almost moaned as the warm juices burst over her tongue.
He glanced at her from across the table, his eyes alight with appreciation and humor. “Amazing how something so simple can taste so good, right?”
Simple pleasures. She was all for keeping it simple. And honest. So she did.
“Seven years ago I had such a crush on you.”
Levi felt like his heart had been seized in a giant’s fist. He put down his wineglass, appetite for dinner gone, and tried to think of a cool response. Except the second he opened his mouth out fell a total childish response. “Did not.”
“Did, too.” She smiled at him, but her color ran high.
He resisted the urge to answer the obvious. This was too important. This was—he snuck in a deep, stabilizing breath. “You had an interesting way of showing it.”
Something shifted in her eyes as she glanced away and then back to him. “I wasn’t the only one who had a crush on you.”
Now he was totally robbed of speech. He just stared at her.
“Tess,” she answered. “She was the one who ‘found you’.”
She nodded, reaching forward and delaying her answer—to his frustration—by popping an olive into her mouth. He watched, tension building, and tried not to notice the way she licked the oil from her lower lip with such unintentional sensuality.
“She went to the café first, you were there. Then she took me—the café became our hangout.”
“So, like, she had ‘dibs’?” On him?
“Exactly. And she had it bad, that was why we were there all the time. Because she had a crush on you. She went on about you. All. The. Time.”
Levi reached for his wine and took a fortifying sip. “Did you go on about me?”
She hesitated, finally nodded. “But you were ‘hers’.”
“So when I asked you out…”
“I couldn’t do that to her,” she answered in a low, quiet rush.
So that’s why she’d refused him? That’s why she’d looked so anxious when she’d said no? Glancing everywhere but at him, because she was worried Tess was about to turn up? Was that why she’d left so quickly?
Not because she’d been snobbily insulted that he’d dared ask her out?
Levi was really glad he was seated, that giant’s fist had tightened. Maybe it was a heart attack? He’d been under so much stress these last few months.
Suddenly Becca looked anxious. “You know, it was so long ago, and she’s so sorted. Tess wouldn’t mind my telling you now. She’s over it.”
Yeah, he really wasn’t that interested in Tess. He never had been. “Are you over it?”
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From the book THE MAN SHE COULDN’T REFUSE
by Natalie Anderson
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Books S.A.
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The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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