The sound of a car motor echoed along the concrete walls of the parking garage, growing closer, and Carly pulled her mouth away. She fisted her hands against his chest as she tried to catch her breath before it became humiliatingly obvious that he’d been so successful at reaching his goal.

He had everything to gain—her distraction—and she had everything to lose—like her objectivity about a possible story. Her pride. Her job. Again. Even potentially...her heart.

And that was something she’d never lost before.

The rough hair, warm skin and hard muscle beneath her fists were tempting, and she longed to spread her fingers to recapture as much of the sensation as she could.

She forced her hands down to her sides. “I guess I made a mistake.”

The sound of the engine drew closer, and Hunter turned his back to the oncoming vehicle, casually leaning a shoulder against his car. “Your continued fixation on The Ditchinator?” he said, his gaze on her face as he fixed his buttons.

“No. I meant I suspect I’m the one that came unprepared. All your shooting range practice has come in handy.” She pressed her lips together, tasting him, feeling the lingering heat of his kiss. “With your deadly aim I could really use that bulletproof vest.”

A dark look flickered across his face. “Don’t bother. It won’t work,” he said softly, his smile bordering on bitter as he reached the last button. “Some things cut worse than a bullet.”

FIVE

“Welcome back, Carly and Hunter,” Brian O’Connor said.

The studio applause finally died as Hunter sank into the love seat next to Carly. Was he remembering wrong or was this a different leather couch? It felt smaller. Shorter. And his position next to Carly was close enough for him to smell her citrusy scent. His body still wound tight, he hummed with vibrant energy from their seductive encounter. A planned attack, actually. He hoped the effort to fluster Carly had worked. Unfortunately it had definitely distracted him as well.

“You two have become quite an item,” the blond talk-show host said with a smile as he sat back at his desk. “I’ll be the first to admit I enjoy a good debate.”

Hunter bit back the urge to laugh and threw one arm across the back of the couch, mindful of Carly’s nearly naked shoulder just inches from his fingertips. After tonight’s kiss, “debate” was quite the understatement. He kept his eyes on Carly. “Ms. Wolfe is a worthy opponent.”

“As is Mr. Philips,” Carly said. With a hike of a brow, she shot the host one of her charming smiles before turning her loaded gaze back to Hunter. “I’m learning a lot about the art of war.”

The message was hardly subtle, and the memory of their kiss twined its way around his libido and breathed it back to life. If it had ever died in the first place. When Carly had gone on the offensive during their encounter it had taken all he had to keep the moment in check. He should have known she’d fight back, but he shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much.

“What have you learned?” Hunter said dryly. “That war is won in the attack tactics?”

“More like it’s lost in a failure of the defensive,” she said.

Was she referring to herself? Or him? Ironically, it applied to them both.

“If your offensive is strong enough,” he said, “the defensive becomes irrelevant.”

Her tone was a touch too silky for comfort. “You should know.”

He eyed Carly levelly, struggling to maintain his composed demeanor, but his gaze was probably hotter than it should be. He sincerely hoped Carly was the only one to notice. “You’re fairly skilled in aggressive tactics yourself.”

Carly shifted in Hunter’s direction, eyes twinkling with mischief as she crossed her long legs in his direction. Legs that screamed for verification that they were as smooth as they looked. So why hadn’t he seized the opportunity when he’d had the chance? His gaze lingered a moment on her limbs before returning to hers, and the sparkle in Carly’s eyes turned to delighted amusement mixed with a smoky awareness that was difficult to ignore. Hunter tried anyway.

“Aggressive tactics?” she echoed with an overly innocent smile. “Are you referring to my blog on Wednesday?”

She knew full well he wasn’t.

“What else?” he said.

The sassy lady simply held his gaze and said nothing. But, much to Hunter’s delight, her lips twitched—as if she was itching to laugh.

“Speaking of Carly’s blog,” Brian O’Connor said, interrupting Hunter’s train of thought. “You did take a pretty good beating, Hunter.”

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