Let this please be what I hope for, Blake found herself shamelessly praying.

And then it was showtime.

She stepped out of the bath, with just the tiniest towel wrapped around her dripping wet body, and deliberately making enough noise that Thornton hadn’t any choice but to turn her way.

Oh God.

She literally saw it happen this time, his cock swiftly swelling and turning rigid under his sweatpants, and when she had unconsciously wetted her lips…

The sudden, fierce blaze of lust in his eyes almost had Blake crying out and her body literally shuddering in acutely sexual awareness.

He really does want me.

And it was then they started to play, a cat-and-mouse game in which she took the unexpected role of aggressor and seducer…and her dangerously sexy boss became prey.

Blake was a woman on a mission after that. She read and watched whatever she could, did anything really, save asking an actual person for advice about seducing a man.

Although she had always been the shirt and jeans type, she had taken to wearing tank tops and off-the-shoulder blouses that almost had her breasts spilling out. And despite the steady drop of temperature, Blake had just gritted her teeth against the cold while she insisted on wearing mini-skirts and barely-there shorts.

Anything to drive Thornton wild with need, and while the impact of her scantily-clad body had an extremely evident impact on his own body, Blake had been unwilling to rest on her laurels. She had also made sure to employ slightly dirty tactics just so she could throw herself at him.

She’d lose her balance when he was near, pretend to have a faint-inducing headache, even lie about seeing a snake in the bushes.

Anything just so she could press her body close, rub her breasts against his chest, and grind her crotch against his erection.

The first time she did it, Blake had pepped herself in front of the mirror for an entire hour. But after that…after feeling the way he had held her to him, imprisoning her length against his for long, precious moments—

It had been ridiculously, electrifyingly easy after that, and with every day that passed, his reaction became more telling, with the way his fingers would seemingly carelessly drift down her spine or the way his hands would possessively squeeze her waist before letting go.

The more time passed, it was as if she was being seduced, too, with the carnal promise in his eyes as his gaze roamed over her barely-dressed figure.

More and more, she couldn’t help hoping that one day…it would happen.

He would give in…and kiss her…touch her…fuck her.

One day.

But instead, everything suddenly changed.

“And that’s it. I just don’t know what happened,” Blake finished between sniffs. “One moment, we’re okay, next moment he’s like Mr. Snowman, and I need to put on a thermal jacket around him. Otherwise, he’d have me freezing to death with his sudden coldness.”

“I’m sorry, B,” Frankie said helplessly even as she cursed Thornton Blackwood inside her mind. Cruel, evil man! It was so obvious that Blake’s boss had just led her on, something even Frankie would never have suspected Thornton of. Just goes to show, Frankie thought angrily as she dug her spoon into her ice cream bowl. Men were never ever to be trusted.

While her friend went on her usual, slightly prejudiced rant about no-good men, Blake could only toy listlessly with her crème brûlée, unable to enjoy her favorite dessert even with Elizabeth having gone out of her way to top it with fresh berries.

She and Frankie usually had lunch together at the cafe on her off days, but today Blake had asked Frankie if they could eat at the latter’s office instead. Blake had a feeling she was going to cry the moment she started talking to Frankie about her boss, and she had been right.

“I just wish he’d tell me why at least,” Blake broke in as soon as Frankie paused her breath.

“Did you try to ask him?”

Blake nodded.

“And?”

“You know how he is when he doesn’t want to say the truth,” Blake sighed.

“Actually,” Frankie said honestly, “I don’t know.”

Her friend made a careless gesture with her hand, saying, “He just stares at you.”

“Really?”

Blake nodded. “Yup.”

Although Blake’s tone was as desolate as the look on her face, there was also conviction in it, and Frankie wondered if Blake realized what this signified. With perhaps the exception of the other Blackwoods, no one else in town knew about that particular trait of Thornton, and Frankie had a feeling it was just one of Thornton’s many hidden sides that her friend only knew of.

Blake was obviously special, so why in the world was Thornton treating like shit?

“What am I going to do, Frankie?” Blake asked miserably. “I really like him. Really, really, really like him—”

An idea occurred to Frankie, and she told her friend firmly, “You’ll do nothing.” Because if Frankie’s plan worked, she’d get Thornton himself to make up for ghastly hot-and-cold behavior.


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