‘You’re not allowed to touch your phone and nor am I,’ said Jack. ‘Not for the next six hours. Not if they ring or beep or spontaneously combust.’
‘Six hours?’ They were going to be out that long?
‘Two hours to get there, two hours to look around, two hours to get back,’ he said shortly. ‘That okay?’
‘I… I guess.’ It was better than staying the night, right?
‘And all with no phone. First to cave loses.’
His sudden unexpected smile was too wicked for her liking.
‘What you should be asking is what the winner receives.’
She turned in her seat, her heart drumming heavy metal style. ‘What do you win if I cave?’
‘What do you think?’ he asked, too softly.
‘My blog is ready to be bought, but I’m not on the table, Mr Wolfe,’ she breathed, trying to be icy. And failing.
‘Not yet—and it’s Jack.’
‘Not ever, Mr Wolfe.’
‘You’re afraid I’ll bite? I won’t. I’m talking one kiss.’
She stared at him. He was driving along as if he hadn’t a care in the world. As if he hadn’t just suggested something so wildly inappropriate. Or so wildly tempting.
Finally he glanced over at her. ‘You can’t tell me you haven’t considered the idea already?’
‘Your looks have gone to your head.’ And thank heavens she had inches of make-up on to hide her flaming cheeks.
‘You think I’m good-looking?’
‘Your power has gone to your head,’ she corrected, ignoring him. ‘And you’re being inappropriate.’
‘My power?’ He looked oh-so-baffled. ‘But you’re the one who has the thing I want, right? So doesn’t that mean you have the power?’
‘The thing’ being the blog? Of course it was the blog he wanted. And she wanted him to want it rather than her. And she didn’t want him to think he could get it for peanuts… So, yes, she needed to act as if she had the power. As if she couldn’t care less.
Overheating and unable to answer, Stephanie could only manage action. She shoved the phones into the glove compartment and closed it with a definite slam. Then she curled her fingers into empty fists. At home she worked on her laptop most of the time. To be completely disconnected from the internet felt weird. But to take up Jack Wolfe’s challenge and beat him? Irresistible…
‘What will you take as your prize?’ he asked conversationally, his eyes back on the road.
Oh, she’d make him pay. ‘Two hours’ hard labour.’
She’d bet he’d never done a real job in his life—not even when he was volunteering during his ‘do-good’ year.
‘Hard labour?’ His gaze narrowed. ‘Such as…?’
‘Such as you shifting a pile of bricks from one side of a yard to another. And back again. For two hours. I’ll watch to make sure you don’t stop—not even for a minute.’
‘That’s kinda boring, don’t you think? You’d get bored.’
Watching him work up a sweat? She didn’t think she would, actually. ‘No, I wouldn’t.’
‘Why?’ He turned his head, and something dangerous burned in his expression. ‘You like to look?’
Stephanie was unable to answer the heat in those eyes. Instead she reached into her small bag and pulled out her sunglasses, shoving them on and staring straight ahead. Hiding. And ignoring his soft, triumphant laughter.
Then she tried—really tried—to go totally ‘Steffi Leigh’. For forty minutes or so she regaled him with a few of her favourite pre Dan’s illness stories from when she’d first started vlogging. Jack listened, but didn’t ask any more questions, didn’t try to offer any topics of his own.
Eventually she fell silent, too tired to maintain the effort. As it was she’d lasted way longer than her usual two minutes. Besides, the further they got from the city, the more the tension drained away from her body, and it no longer seemed imperative that she somehow impress him with her blog’s credibility every second. The sun warmed her… the wind on her face calmed her.
No phone. No internet. No contact. No care. Just a long stretch of road. And freedom.
She rested her elbow on the car door and rested her head on her hand, studying him from behind the dark lenses of her sunglasses. He turned to look at her, as if he were aware of her secret scrutiny.
It wasn’t that wicked, teasing smile. Nor was it some polite Are you doing okay? kind of smile. It was genuine, intimate. And gorgeous.