Without looking up, he said, “I see you met my mother.”

“Yes,” she said. The scent of teak wood mixed with the salty breeze as water lapped gently against the boat. All of which should have been relaxing, and would have been but for the inconveniently disturbing view of Blake’s hard body. “She was instructing me on how to prepare the perfect mojito,” she said as she sent him a smile from the dock. “Apparently she grows her own ingredients.”

“She planted lime trees and mint in her yard,” he said. “She calls it her liquor garden.”

The faint quirk to his lips was a mixture of amusement and warmth, with a trace of resigned exasperation, and Jax’s grin grew bigger. As unconventional as his mother was, it was clear their relationship was one of affection and acceptance.

She stepped up onto the boat, admiring the forty-foot catamaran. Shading her eyes from the sun, she studied him as he went through the motions of dipping his paintbrush into the shallow pan and meticulously stroking the brush along the rail lining the deck. His focus and attention to detail weren’t a surprise, and she imagined he’d make love the same way, the thought throwing her heart into a frenzy.

No touching, Jax. No touching!

But she refused to pretend she hadn’t given the matter a great deal of thought already. His past actions led her to believe he’d take his time and linger, enjoying every sensation along the way. But then again, sometimes, like after she’d leaned close while perched on his desk, and especially when she’d touched his lips in his car yesterday...

Her heart thumped in her chest.

During those times, his eyes told her a different story, suggesting that one right move on her part and he would explode in a burst of flames that would incinerate them both.

A surge of longing started in the pit of her stomach and seeped outward, fueling the already rapid pace of her pulse. And she couldn’t shake the question, was there a fiercely passionate man lurking beneath that coolly authoritative, frustratingly methodical exterior?

Blake interrupted her thoughts. “I assume you were giving those two girls guitar lessons.”

She inhaled deeply, clearing her wayward thoughts. “Yes. And when I had breakfast with Nikki this morning, she said you wouldn’t mind if they came to my guest cottage.” She lightly nibbled on her cheek. Now that she’d seen the siblings in action, she wasn’t so confident of his sister’s assessment. “I hope that’s true.”

“As far as I’m concerned, my home is your home for as long as you’re here.” He shot her a look she couldn’t interpret, but was loaded with warnings and meaning. “Within reason, of course.”

There was a pause, his gray gaze fixed on hers, and the moment shifted to one filled with an awareness that was growing day by day. But in an effort to stick to her hands-off rule, she chose to ignore the undertones.

“Who chose the time and location of your flash mob?” he said.

Jax bunched her brow in surprise at the abrupt change in topic. “We all were bandying about ideas, but ultimately we went with Nikki’s suggestion.”

At her words, the truth suddenly became obvious, and Jax closed her eyes. Nikki. Of course. Why hadn’t the idea occurred to her before?

Lifting her lids, she met his gaze. “You think she placed us there that day on purpose.”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Nikki overheard my phone call with Sara earlier in the week.”

“Sara?” she said, remembering the gorgeous woman in the gorgeous suit. “You mean the lady you’re supposed to somehow have half of a perfect child with?”

His eyes crinkled in humor. “That’s the one. She agreed to meet with me at the courthouse Friday to give me some information in reference to a case I’m working on,” he said, and then his brow bunched in aggravation. “And when my sister spied us coming down the steps, she turned on the music, effectively starting the event.”

Jax pondered this for a moment and then tipped her head curiously. “Why would she go to such lengths to ensure you were there to see our flash mob?”

The tension around his eyes was impossible to miss. “To rub her participation in my face,” he said. “To get back at me.”

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