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“I didn’t know law briefs were good for a laugh.”
Thea looked up to find Calder Frye climbing the lawn toward her deck in a t-shirt and gym shorts, sweaty and slightly winded, clearly back from a run. So that was how he kept his body so hard when so many of their classmates had softened like sticks of butter.
“Oh, it’s not that,” she said, laughing to hide the flush of her surprise—and her decidedly unprofessional thoughts. “I was just remembering something.” She waved her hand dismissively, hoping his approach would slow the creep of her blush.
No luck. The sight of him wasn’t exactly helping her to cool down. His brown hair was tousled, patches of sweat darkened his shirt making his chest look like a map of islands, melting the fabric against his body just enough to outline the planes and ridges, and the taut concaves further down.
She forced her gaze upwards to settle on his eyes, a safer place—but only barely.
His gaze shifted to the daunting spread of paperwork on the table. “You did say you were on vacation, didn’t you?”
She smiled sheepishly. “I have to confess, I’m not really good at this whole “relaxing” thing.”
“No kidding?” He grinned. “I never would have guessed.”
Thea was glad she was sitting down—fourteen years later and that slow, smoldering smile could still knock a girl off her feet.
“I hope I didn’t wake you when I came back this morning,” he said.
So it hadn’t been a girlfriend pulling in. The news filled Thea with relief. Not that it meant there wasn’t a girlfriend somewhere.
“No,” she lied. “I didn’t hear a…”
He yanked the hem of his t-shirt up high enough to wipe sweat from his forehead and her voice drifted off, her thoughts stumbling at the sight of his exposed, glistening skin. What had they been talking about? His body was every bit as firm as she’d suspected, the ridges taut and toned. But it was at the waistband of his gym shorts, hanging dangerously low on his hips, low enough to reveal a shadow of auburn hair at his groin, where her eyes stuck, glued, imagining how easy it would be to slide those shorts off…
He dropped his t-shirt back down and she swallowed, the spell broken.
“I’m glad,” he said. “You must be a deeper sleeper than I am.”
She smiled, his mention of sleep not helping her to shake off her dirty thoughts. “They sure keep you busy in the ER, don’t they?” she said.
“This time it wasn’t for work.” A flash of strain crossed his face then disappeared. “But it’s all fine now.”
His cryptic answer left her piqued but Thea could see he wasn’t going to elaborate. The attorney in her was always trying to gauge people, trying to decipher the clues of their words, no matter how veiled they imagined them to be. But even in high school, Calder Frye had been hard to read—a closed book all the girls had wanted desperately to open and consume, cover to cover.
And now he was here in front of her, breathing hard and dripping with sweat.
Suddenly Thea didn’t need a distraction from her laptop or her email, because work was the last thing on her mind. All she could think about was helping him peel off that soaked t-shirt and slide off those shorts.
Her skin flamed, the air suddenly still—where was a breeze when you needed one?
Calder cocked his head toward his condo. “I’m going to get in the shower before I start drawing flies, but you should go down to the bay while the sun’s still out. Enjoy the day—doctor’s orders.”
“I will,” she said. “I promise.”
“Good, because if I come back out here later and you’re still hunched over that computer, I’m taking you hostage for dinner,” he said, leveling a finger and a playfully stern gaze on her as he backed away. “You’ve been warned, Counselor.”
End of Excerpt