I’ve barely buried myself in bubbles to my chin when Chris saunters into the bathroom with a glass of wine in his hand and sits down on the edge of the tub. “This’ll help calm your nerves,” he says, ofering it to me. “I have an extensive cellar outside the city that my father left me. I keep a few bottles here for guests.”

Wine his father, the wine expert who drank himself to death on wine, left for him.


Uncomfortable with the thought, I set the glass on the other side of the tub.

I grab his shirt and wrap my wet hand around it, tugging his mouth near mine. “Thanks, but I don’t want it. I just want you.”

He looks at me knowingly. “The past is the past. I’m putting it behind me, and us.”

Unease stirs inside me. This its into his need for control in some way, but I’m not sure how. “The past is a part of you and us. You can store it away someplace diferent, but you can’t make it go away. And you can’t even resolve it until you, we, face it.”

“What do you think I’m trying to do?”

Maybe this isn’t about control at all. Maybe it’s about losing it. Maybe bringing me here, exposing himself to me for what I believe he sees as judgment, is doing a rare number on him.

Am I selishly pushing him too hard and too fast? Stripping him na**d too quickly? “Chris—”

His cell phone rings and he squeezes his eyes shut. “I should check it in case it’s important.”

“I know.” I wish I could throw the phone in the tub.

He doesn’t move, lingering as if he feels the same way. The ringing stops and his lips twitch. “I guess it wasn’t important.”

He leans in closer, and my heart begins to race with the promise of his mouth against mine.

The phone starts ringing again.

Chris curses and starts to move away, and I reluctantly release his shirt. He stands up, tugging his cell from his jeans pocket, his face impassive as he looks at the number and hits “end.” There’s an instant pinch in my chest, and I quickly roll to my side so Chris can’t see my reaction. At least he’s still declining the call. Apparently he didn’t return the prior calls while I was running my bath. Or maybe he did and “the person” is calling back.

“Amber.”

My stomach clenches at her name and I roll back over to face him, feeling exposed, thankful for the bubbles still brimming to my neck. “What?”

“You want to know who’s calling. It’s Amber.”

“Oh.” My reply lacks inesse, but considering the edginess of his mood, it’s better than the “I know” I almost said. “Why don’t you take her calls?”

He runs a rough hand through his hair, leaving it in sexy disarray. “Because right now I’d tell her to stay the f**k away from you, and I won’t say it as nicely as I just did.”

I’m taken aback by how angry he is. Too much, it seems, and I wonder why. “She didn’t lure me into a trap.” I have no idea why I’m defending a woman who’d stomp me with her spiked heel in a heartbeat.

“She cornered you.”

“And I let her. A mistake I regret.”

“You don’t know what Amber is capable of. I do.”

Chris happened to me. My gaze drops to the water as Amber’s words replay in my mind, carved in one part pain, one part elusive backstory. Did he hear what she said to me? Does the accusation I’d sensed have anything to do with his anger? Yes.

Yes, I think it does.

I glance up, seeking some kind of answers, only to blank at the sight of Chris stripping of his shirt. “What are you doing?”

The hard lines of his face fade into amusement at the less-than-brilliant question, another one of his rapid shifts of mood.

“Getting naked. Got a problem with that?”

My gaze slides over his deliciously sculpted body, lingering on his rippling, sexy abs, and my mouth goes dry. My questions about Amber slide away. “No problem,” I assure him. I sound aroused. I am. “What took you so long?”

He tosses one of his boots. “I was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy again and let you enjoy your bath. It really doesn’t work for me.”

“I’m so glad you igured that out.”

As he tosses his other boot away, his cell phone rings again.

Exasperated at Amber bursting inside my barely realized little fantasy, I say, “Again?”

Chris glances at his phone. “Blake this time.”

“I need him!” I sit up, bubbles lying and water splashing. “I have to talk to him, right away.”

Chris’s gaze rakes over my na**d br**sts, then lifts to mine.

“This is not the reaction a man wants his woman to have for another man.”

I sit up on my knees. “Don’t joke. Answer the call, please, and put it on speaker so I won’t get the phone wet.”

Looking baled, Chris hits the answer button and says, “Hold on. Sara wants to be on speaker.” He sits down on the tiled seating area of the tub and places the phone closer to me. I sink back into the water and curl my knees to my chest in front of the phone. Chris arches a questioning brow at me and I give a nod before he says, “You’re live, Blake.”

“You two are giving me performance anxiety,” Blake drawls over the line. “We Walker men don’t like performance anxiety, or to let down a pretty woman, but I have no news. You know what they say, though. No news is good news.”

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