“You have a list of gifts that won’t get sent back to me?” she said as she stepped closer, and he wondered if she could hear his heart thumping appreciatively in response. “This I’d like to hear,” she went on. “Because I still have that secret decoder ring you returned.”

“You kept it?”

“As a memento of our first show.”

“I hope you still have the dress,” he said in a low voice.

“I do,” she said with a seductive smile. “And I brought it with me.”

“Good. I can finally live out my fantasy of making love to you with it on.”

“I don’t think it will fit you,” she said silkily.

Hunter laughed, and then leaned in to whisper in her ear, savoring her scent. “I’d give it a whirl in private, if that’s what you wanted.”

“Oh...” She pulled back until they were face to face, and her gaze turned decidedly warmer. “I definitely want.”

The look seared him, frying the very marrow of his bones. But the heat in her eyes suggested her statement wasn’t just about the dress, or even the ridiculous notion of him putting it on. It was almost as if she hoped for more, and it was shocking to realize they might have moved beyond desire and into something else.

It was easy to get lost in the sensual web she wove so easily, because his body had begun to insist it was time for another noontime rendezvous. But still... “Do you want to know what I really want?” he said.

“Yeah.” She lifted her chin, as if ready for anything—and she always was. “I do.”

For a heart-pounding moment he tried to figure out the truth. What did he want? When the answer wouldn’t come, he dropped his gaze to her legs, plenty exposed in the shorts she was wearing. “I want to know if they make shorts any shorter than that.”

“Of course,” she said breezily. “They’re called bathing suits. But I don’t think I’ll be allowed in the convention hall wearing one.”

“I don’t think anyone would complain.”

She looked at the crowd that consisted of people of all ages. Most were excited to meet like-minded people, engaged in conversations she probably couldn’t understand. “I don’t think anyone would notice.”

His smile grew bigger. “Except me.”

She smoothed a hand over his button-down shirt with a light in her eyes and the sassy self-assurance that set his soul on fire. “Your focus is one of the things I like about you.”

Hunter gazed down at Carly, and beyond the intense desire that was growing by the second there was a sense of rightness, a light of possibility, that refused to go away. The feeling had been coming with greater regularity, and while he didn’t necessarily trust it, the wholehearted, unwavering resistance that used to accompany the emotion was growing less acute. In truth...it was beginning to fade quite a bit.

Which in and of itself should have been concerning.

But right now he was simply going to enjoy himself. “And the other things you like about me?”

“I’m rather fond of your gun.” Her grin grew bigger. “Your ability to remain cool under pressure. And I like how you wear that white hat.” She glanced up at his hatless head and then returned his gaze. The teasing light in her eyes faded a trace as she grew more serious and dropped her hand from his chest. “Why haven’t you talked to Pete yet?”

Hunter stifled a groan and turned to face the competitors at the table that included his partner, the guilt weighing him down. It would have been easier to ask for more time to pursue other interests—to break free of the stifling responsibility of keeping the business going—if it didn’t feel like such a noose around his neck. But right now his life felt, if not perfect, as close to happy as he could remember. And he didn’t want to ruin it with thoughts of his lingering dissatisfaction at work.

Hunter put an arm around Carly’s waist and pulled her closer to him. “I’ll discuss it with him when the time is right.” His hand drifted lower, as if to hold her hip, but he kept right on going until his palm cupped the outside of her upper thigh. The feel of silky skin brought the desire back tenfold, not to mention some outstanding memories. “Currently I have other things on my mind. Like yesterday afternoon...” His thumb smoothed across her thigh, slipping under her shorts and tracing the edge of her panties at her hip. The crowd around them blocked most everyone’s view of his hand.

Though she parted her lips, as if to catch her breath, her lids narrowed just enough to let him know she was trying to continue her discussion. The flush on her cheeks gave her difficulty in focusing away.

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