Yet somehow, among the crowds and the chaos, in a club or on the beach, we always found each other. As if there’s some sort of magnetic field between us, drawing us closer without our even realizing.

Maybe I fucked it up. Somehow broke the force field by pissing her off. I regret it. I … miss her. Incredibly stupid on my part because I don’t even know her, and what I do know of her, I shouldn’t like. She accuses me of hiding something, of lying, when she’s the biggest liar out there. I’m not supposed to know she’s Lily Fowler. She’s probably one of the richest people currently staying at this ridiculously expensive hotel but she’s not flaunting it, which goes against her normal behavior. She’s famous, a nonstop party girl who likes to drink and flirt and spend too much money and cause too much trouble. A complete wreck, the press has called her more than once.

Looks like she wrecked me instead.

After I finish my late breakfast, I head out to the pool, my gaze automatically searching for Lily. It’s extra crowded today for some reason and I have to go on an extensive hunt to scrounge up an empty lounger. I finally find one and throw my towel on top of it before I settle in. Two women sitting nearby watch me with unabashed interest, but I ignore them.

There’s only one woman I want to see and so far, she’s nowhere to be found.

A hotel staffer stops by and takes my drink order and then I settle in, my gaze razor sharp behind my sunglasses as I search the perimeter. The place is packed, mostly with men and women around my age, and there’s lots of alcohol flowing. I keep an eye out for Lily, silently willing her to make an appearance, but maybe she’s gone into hiding. She’s probably purposely avoiding me and I can’t blame her. I fucked it up. Bad. If I can’t find her, talk to her, persuade her I’m not such a bad guy after all, I’m going to have to break into her room and steal that goddamn laptop. A situation that could go sideways at any given moment, and it’s the last thing I want to do.

I quickly grow restless, pissed that I haven’t come upon Lily yet. And I’d really like to see her in one of those skimpy bikinis she seems to prefer. The waiter shows up, setting my iced tea on the table beside my chair, and asks if I want anything else before he zooms off, ready to feed the hungry and thirsty pool guests.

“Hey, cowboy.”

I jerk my head up at the familiar voice to find Lily standing in front of my lounger blocking the sun, her hands on her hips, a sly smile on her face. As if my damn imagination made her materialize in front of me, as if she isn’t furious with me anymore, which is strange.

And unnerving.

“Cowboy?” I ask, lifting a brow. “Bringing that back, huh.”

She shrugs those pretty, bare shoulders, which are turning a bright shade of pink. “You drove like a hell-bent cowboy yesterday so I still think it’s apt, even if you disagree.”

“I’ve never been much of a cowboy,” I confirm, though I like it when she calls me that. I like it a lot.

Probably a little too much.

She stares at me for a moment and I return the look, both of us silent. I see the hesitation in her, can read it in the way she shuffles her feet, how she tucks a wild strand of hair behind her ear and glances around, looking for … an escape?

I make her nervous.

And she does the same to me.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” she finally says, her voice deceptively nonchalant. I see a challenge in her gaze, one that tells me she’s going somewhere with this. “I definitely like the way you ride me.”

I regret choosing that precise moment to take a sip from my iced tea because I nearly choke on it. The liquid goes down the wrong pipe and I end up in a coughing fit that lasts maybe thirty seconds, which is thirty seconds too long.

“You okay?” she asks once I stop.

Wiping my hand across my mouth, I nod, feeling like an asshole. “Yeah. I’m fine. You just … shocked me.”

“Bad choice of words?” She tilts her head, waiting for my answer.

“Interesting choice,” I correct. “Surprising.”

“How so?” Her head is still tilted as she watches me and I feel on edge. Like one wrong move … if I say or do the wrong thing, she’ll turn and leave without a backward glance. Offer me up a spectacular view, because nothing’s better than the sight of Lily’s perfect ass in a barely there bikini bottom, but yeah. I don’t want her to leave.

I need her to stay.

“I figured you were still pissed at me.”

A casual shrug is my immediate answer as she contemplates me. “I decided it’s not worth it, to hold a grudge.”

“Hold a grudge.” I lied to her. I was purposely withholding information. She should tell me to go to hell and hope that I choke on my iced tea and die. Instead she’s saying how she shouldn’t hold a grudge. And she’s watching me like she wants to rub her naked body all over mine.

“Life’s too short,” she says, laughter tingeing her voice. “Don’t you agree?”

It feels like a trick question. “I guess.”

The look she sends me could probably slay me dead. “What are you saying? Are you a grudge holder, Max?”

“No.” I shake my head. Most men aren’t; at least the ones I know aren’t. I get over shit fairly easy. Unless I’m wronged. Betrayed. I should be pissed at this woman because she’s betraying me as we speak. Keeping her true identity from me even though I know it. I’ve always known it. Meaning I’m betraying her as well. Beating her at her own game. Aren’t we a fucking pair?

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