Angus pranced over to her, pausing to spin in an excited circle. Lin laughed—a clear, uninhibited, sweet sound.

“She’s a shameless showoff,” Kam warned, but he couldn’t keep the warmth out of his voice. He was glad to see his dog, no denying it. Angus wiggled around happily as Lin scratched and stroked her, and then bounded back over to Kam.

One thing about Angus, it was almost impossible to be aloof or reserved around her. People always seemed to show their true colors around Kam’s rambunctious, friendly dog. She was usually frisky, but she was downright hyper after being penned up on a plane and then on the car ride downtown. He’d never heard Lin laugh so irrepressibly or smile so big as she petted and sported with his dog.

It was a damn appealing sight.

Seeing her carefree playfulness and happiness with Angus left Kam greedy for more of the uninhibited Lin. Why was she always so careful and reserved? Part of it had to do with her upbringing, he understood. Her grandmother had drilled contained, polished elegance into Lin from an early age. But there was something more to it, Kam was sure. She was cautious around him. The only time she wasn’t holding back was when she abandoned herself to sensation and pleasure during sex.

That made him crave her surrender even more than he normally would. The memories of her submission to her desire earlier, of her admission of her arousal at giving him pleasure, even when it was denied to her, would undoubtedly plague him for years to come.

Angus served as a great icebreaker between them for a few minutes, but then the dog had gone and overdone it. While Angus and Lin tussled, the dog inadvertently tugged on the towel she wore. It slithered onto the carpet. Kam had a quick glimpse of shapely long limbs, thrusting breasts, and a pale, smooth belly before Lin scurried to retrieve the towel. She wrapped it around herself while Kam scolded Angus.

“Sorry about that,” Kam said.

“It’s okay. I need to get going, anyway. I need to check in on a friend before I start to get ready for tonight.” He saw the color in her cheeks as she hurried out of the room to change.

“Bloody nuisance,” Kam accused his dog as he fondly ruffled the hair on an unrepentant Angus’s neck.

Lin returned a few minutes later wearing the black pants, high heels, and belted blouse she’d arrived in, looking so crisp, efficient, and untouchable that the memory of her perched naked up on the counter earlier, her eyes shining with lust in the mirror, seemed downright implausible to Kam. The only concession he had as she gave him his opera ticket and quick instructions on where they should meet was that laughter still clung to her lush, pink lips and shone in her dark eyes. Kam was about to breach the barrier and melt her reserve with a kiss—and damn her cool efficiency—when the doorbell rang again. It was Francesca, excited to see if Angus had arrived safely. Lin had made her escape while he made sure Angus didn’t jump on his pregnant sister-in-law.

All he was left with was the promise that he’d see her again tonight.

•   •   •

Lin withdrew her gown from the closet and hung it on a hook, giving it a quick once-over. She hastily chose a pair of heels and a matching clutch from her walk-in, and set them on her dresser. She was headed toward the front door, when the doorbell rang.

“Hi! How are you feeling? I was just on my way out the door to go see if you needed anything,” she told Richard when she saw him standing in the hallway. She stepped aside and waved for him to enter. “You look awful.”

“Stop with the flattery,” Richard croaked, reaching inside the box of tissues he carried. “I’m convinced I have a new form of the plague, but the doctor insists it’s just the flu. How can a three-letter word equate to so much misery?”

Lin’s face collapsed with sympathy. He really did look awful. She touched his forehead.

“You feel a little feverish. Have you taken something for it?”

“The entire pharmacy counter, it feels like.”

“What you need is for someone to cook you a nice meal and wait on you hand and foot. Emile is too busy doing everything at the restaurant.” She hesitated, thinking. She couldn’t really afford to reschedule a meeting between Kam and Jason Klinf, but she doubted Kam would mind not going to the opera. “How about if I cancel my plans for tonight and cook up some hot-and-sour chicken soup—my mother’s recipe? That’d cut through all that congestion.”

Richard groaned. “I love that soup. But your mother’s genius would be wasted on me. I can’t taste a thing. That’s very sweet of you, but nothing is going to help me but time. I just came over to get another box of tissues. I’m going through them by the gross.” Lin nodded and waved him back to her bedroom. “So what are the plans for tonight?” Richard asked, plopping at the bottom of her bed while she retrieved several boxes of tissue from a closet in the bathroom.

“Opening night at the Civic,” Lin said, returning with tissues in hand.

“Wonderful. Otello, isn’t it? You’ll have to tell me if that young tenor can pull it off. It’s not an easy role. Ooh, and I love the dress,” he said, nodding at the red evening gown she’d hung on her closet door in preparation. “You’re going to knock them dead in that. Who are you going to be knocking dead, exactly?” he added as an afterthought.

“No one, I’m sure, but I’m attending with Jason Klinf and Kam. Kam Reardon,” she fumbled the last stupidly. She looked up in time to see a sly grin spreading on Richard’s face.

“So . . . you’re wearing that for an evening with the prince of smooth and the big bad wolf,” he said, glancing significantly at the dramatic red, floor-length gown. “Better watch yourself, Red. Sounds like there might be some fireworks tonight at the Civic.”