If You Dare

By: Jessica Lemmon

“Yeah, right. You wouldn’t last an hour in that place.” He’d raised one dark eyebrow and added, “What did you do, run up, touch the front door, then run giggling down the driveway?”

She’d given him an exaggerated eye roll and hoped it was convincing. The scene he’d described was exactly what her friend Val had done. Lily hadn’t been as brave. She’d stood a good fifty feet away from the house, her fair skin baking under the bright noonday sun while shouting at Valerie to hurry up before they got caught.

Predictably, embarrassment had heated her cheeks, likely highlighting the scattered freckles dotting her nose. Which she hated. “I’ll bet you I could.” Her voice had been smaller than she would’ve liked, but she forced herself to meet Marcus’s eyes. Sort of. Her gaze had trickled down to the dimple indenting his left cheek. She’d stared at it a beat too long, wondering idly how a man with whitened teeth and supple lips could still look rugged and manly.

“All night?” he’d asked.

His innuendo-loaded, two-word question sent her blood pumping extra fast through her veins and made her briefly entertain a mini-fantasy about what he would be like in bed. It wouldn’t surprise her in the least if he took his time there. He did everywhere else. Like when he sketched. She’d noticed the way he savored each and every line. Which got her thinking about his hands again...

It took her a full five seconds to recall what they’d been talking about. Dragging her eyes from his face, she’d chalked the end of her cue stick. “Yes. All night.”

“Okay, you’re on.” He slid around behind her, his body heat enveloping her, his warm breath fanning her hair and causing her nape to tingle. “Hundred bucks.”

Lily moved away from him, palming her throat to catch her breath. The scratch of his voice, his very presence was throwing her majorly off-kilter. She had to regain her focus, get her feet under her again. With a new sense of purpose, she’d leaned over the racked balls. Infusing her own voice with confidence, she said, “Come on, Marcus. We just made thousands of bucks on the London account. I think a bet like this one calls for higher stakes.” She cracked the cue ball into the center of the arranged balls. Lame. Her shot had done little more than roll the colorful orbs a few inches from their original resting places.

Behind her again, he’d grasped her hips with wide, warm hands, she assumed to move her to the side. But before he did, he squeezed his fingers into her skirt, just enough to dance along the line of “inappropriate.” Only it didn’t feel inappropriate. She felt like backing into his crotch and pressing her back into his chest. And then maybe rubbing against him a little. Right when she may have done just that, he moved to her left, robbing her of his heat and attention, and positioned himself over the cue ball.

“Fine.” He paused over the table and shot her a look laced with dark promises. “A thousand.”

She cleared her throat and adjusted her skirt as if she could wipe away the twin heated imprints of his hands on her body, or the look in his eyes that made her wonder for a split second if she wouldn’t regret sleeping with him. Even if it only lasted one night. He leaned over the table and she took a moment to appreciate the way his jeans outlined his perfect butt, the way the snug cotton tee molded over one muscular shoulder as he drew back the pool cue. His shot smacked into the balls and scattered them across the table. He sank a solid in one corner and another in the side pocket.

But of course.

“You have big ones.” A smile tilted on his stubbled face. Lily had to shake her head, mainly to get her brain back online. Note to self: Tequila makes you attracted to unworthy men.

They’d been discussing something before she’d lost time ogling him…oh, right, the bet. If not money, what? Then she’d landed on it—dug an idea out of the part of her brain not marinating in Jose Cuervo. “Hawaii.”

His aim slipped, sending the white ball into the corner pocket. He straightened, his smile vanishing as if dry-erased from his face. “I won that trip fair and square.”

“That’s debatable.”

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