Damn it, it was just his luck that she was even more gorgeous in her wet tank top and cut-off jeans than any woman had a right to be. The way she’d looked in her bikini the night before had blown him away, but with the thin fabric clinging to her br**sts and outlining the lace and silk of her bra beneath, it was taking every last ounce of his willpower not to pull her back into his arms to finish what they’d started.
"Why did you just pull away?"
Instead of answering her question, he hit her with one of his own. "Why do you keep asking so many questions?"
He thought he saw her flinch, but instead of turning tail and running, she said, "Because I haven’t asked any for so long. Too long. I’ve done what I thought I was supposed to do. I haven’t talked out of turn. Or asked for anything I didn’t already know that I could have. I’ve been the good girl. The sweet girl. The cute girl." She tried to sneer the word cute, but even that was gorgeous on her. He was so fixated on her full, soft-looking lips that he realized too late that she’d moved even closer, all gorgeous, dripping curves and irresistible woman. "I don’t want to be afraid to ask for what I want anymore." She took another step closer before adding, "Especially not when I now know you want it, too."
Brooke had just singlehandedly turned what would have been a shitty day into a good one not only by offering him a place to stay and pitching in on cleanup, but by dragging him away from the work, too, to play in the lake.
And how was he thinking of repaying her?
It didn’t matter that she was all but begging for those orgasms. He was still acting like just as much of a pig as the guys he’d investigated. No wonder none of them could keep it in their pants. All it must have taken was a woman like Brooke looking at them with big, hungry eyes and they were goners.
Every second since he’d seen her again the night before had confused the hell out of him. He’d always known the difference between right and wrong, even as a kid. It was why he’d become a cop in the first place—to keep wrong from winning over right.
Forcefully reminding himself that tangling up with innocent, sweet Brooke in any kind of sexual way was wrong, he said, "You’re great, Brooke, but we’re friends."
"Friends who want each other," she countered, her gaze holding his steadily. "I had a huge crush on you when we were kids, and seeing you again has made me realize it isn’t a crush anymore."
Wow, that was a whole hell of a lot more blunt than he’d thought Brooke would be. Then again, hadn’t he already learned that her soft exterior was just the packaging for determination and focus? Somehow, he needed to grab hold of the reins of this conversation—and make sure nothing more happened than one shockingly hot hug in the water.
"I’m staying with you. And even after I move out, I’ll be right next door. It would be way too complicated if we pushed past friends."
Instead of accepting his perfect logic that messing around with each other would only lead to even messier complications, she smiled at him, the surprising hint of wickedness in her eyes reminding him in the most potent of ways what every inch of her against him had felt like. The curves of her hips in his hands, her legs wrapped around his waist...and how mind-blowingly good it had been to hold her like that.
"Look," she said in a reasonable tone, "I get what you’re saying—that if one of us wants out, it could be awkward being in such close proximity. But I think trying to fight the obvious attraction between us would be even weirder and would only end up causing more tension between us. We’re not kids anymore. We’re both adults who know how to manage expectations and hurt feelings. We’re both single. And…" She paused deliberately. "We both want each other. And just in case you’re worried that I’m looking for a husband and kids right now, I’m not. I feel like I’ve been settled forever already. Now all I want is to have some fun. And be wild. With you."
Caught between what he wanted—sweet Lord, he’d never wanted anyone as much as he wanted her—and what he knew was the right thing to do, Rafe made himself say, "If it’s fun you’re looking for, if you really want to be wild, we can find other ways. If you’ve never been on a motorcycle, I’ll take you out on mine." It would be hell to have her br**sts and thighs pressed against him during the ride, but he’d find a way to deal with it.
Her cheeks were already flushed from their impromptu swim, but now that he’d offered to take her out on his bike in lieu of sleeping with her, they suddenly flushed an even deeper rose. "Wow. A ride on your bike. I proposition you, and that’s what you’re offering me instead?" She swallowed hard, looking embarrassed suddenly by how open she’d been with him. "When we were in the water, and last night, even this morning, I thought you wanted me. But if you don’t, then maybe we can both just pretend this whole conversation never happened."
Jesus, he couldn’t stand for her to think he didn’t want her, that she wasn’t the most desirable woman he’d ever seen in his life. "Of course I want you, Brooke. Who the hell in their right mind wouldn’t? I’ve been fighting with myself every single second since I saw you in your bikini last night not to reach out and touch you and make you mine."
She blinked up at him, her clear pleasure at his words mingling now with confusion. "Then if you want me so bad—and you know I want you just as much—why are you fighting so hard not to take me?"