Page 37 of The Shy Bride

“I’ll hold you to that.”

“There were a lot of ifs and maybes in there,” she warned.

He shrugged as if the only words he knew or heard were yes, can and do. “Are you all swimmed out?”

“I could do a few more laps.”

“Then, I will join you.”

“Great.” That’s just what she needed. The most gorgeous man she’d ever met running around in a swimsuit.

After the two kisses today, her body was going through all sorts of palpitations and excitations. She wanted to grab him and throw him on the deck beside the pool and kiss him until both their lips were sore, but he said friends couldn’t kiss. And he wanted to be her friend.

He’d already shown that meant something real to him. Friendship. He’d been there for her when she needed him and he’d never once chastised her for her weakness. He’d given her his time today and she knew that was something special.

Neo Stamos was a dream man. If only her limitations weren’t so redolent of a nightmare.

She wasn’t going to do anything to mess this relationship up before it ran the natural course all her other friendships had over her life.

Seeing him in his swimsuit was worse than she expected. Neo was clearly not ashamed of his body. Showing his European upbringing, he wore spandex swim trunks that showed off his stomach and thighs like no California board shorts could ever do. It wasn’t a Speedo, having a little leg to it. But it was enough to make her whimper as feelings she had read about, but never personally experienced before meeting him, zinged through her body.

“Did you say something?”

She had to clear her throat. “Uh, nothing. Nice suit.”

“It creates minimum drag when I am doing laps.”

“Of course.” She thought he’d just bought it to seduce unwary virgin pianists. Well, maybe not.

They swam several laps, even racing a couple, which he won.

“It’s just because I wore myself out swimming before you came up.” It didn’t help that she had a hard time concentrating on her breast stroke when all she wanted to think about was what Neo would feel like pressed up against her as he had been at the piano showroom.

Only wearing nothing but swimwear. Not that she was about to admit that out loud. Still, she shivered in the heated water at the yummy picture her mind presented her yet again.

“Ah,” he said sagely. “It’s got nothing to do with the fact I’m more than a half a foot taller than you with more powerful leg muscles?”

“Let’s leave your leg muscles out of it.” She scrunched her face at him. “You’ll give me a complex.”

“Your bird legs are quite lovely.”

“Bird legs?” she screeched. Had he seriously called her legs birdlike? “What is that? Scrawny and orange?” Oh, he was so going down. She shot under the water, diving for his ankles.

Whether it was surprise or simply good timing, she managed to get her arms around his ankles and yank, pulling him under the water. Not being an idiot, she let go immediately and bolted to the other side of the pool as fast as she could swim. She was half out when big hands clamped onto her waist and lifted.

She went sailing through the air to land with a splash in the center of the pool. She had the presence of mind to hold her breath as she went under, but still came up spluttering. And ready to get her own back only to find him waiting for her, a devilish smile on his too handsome face.

This was fun. Really, really fun. She hadn’t played like this in, well…ever. In just five weeks, Neo had given her so much. Her heart was so full, she felt it might burst.

At the last second, she checked her instinct to grab him and try another dunking. She couldn’t help noticing that Neo stood firm, his head and most of his shoulders above the pool line while she had to tread water to keep her face out of it.

“You think you’ve won?” she demanded breathlessly.

“I think we’re even right this minute,” he said with obvious concession.

She mock growled at his taunting, but said, “A smart woman would leave it at that, I suppose.”

“A draw is better than defeat,” he acknowledged.

She gave him a really good glare and sent a wave of water cascading toward him. “You’re so sure I would lose?”

With hardly a blink at the deluge that broke over his head, he wiped the excess water droplets from his face and shrugged. Definitely his confidence was unquestionable. And totally justified. Unfortunately.

“You might be bigger, but maybe I’m more devious,” she posited.

“Highly doubtful.” He grinned. “I’m a real estate developer. I deal with devious every day.”

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