Then she imagined him using those moves on Mia only hours,hours after he’d danced with her.

There was only one recourse. He must be annihilated.

“So,” she said, “you must be keeping pretty busy, hunting spooks and searching for, what is it, vortexes or whatever.”

“Busy enough. I’m getting my bearings, getting to know the island.”

“And the natives,” she said. Sweetly.

“Sure. You know, my day’s still pretty flexible,” he told her. “I can wander over to the gym almost anytime. I’d enjoy the workout more with company.”

Why don’t you ask Mia to come sweat with you? she thought. “What time do you usually go over in the morning?” She knew, of course. She knew everything that went on under her own damn nose.

“About seven-thirty.”

“That could work for me.”

In fact, she decided, it would be perfect.

She walked intothe gym at seven-forty-five. He was already on the stepper, and just working up a sweat. He hadn’t shaved again. When he shot her a quick grin, she could only think it was too damn bad she had to crush him like a bug.

He was working out to music instead of TV. Wasn’t it just like him to try to be obliging?

She set the weight on a leg machine, slithered onto the bench on her belly, and began to work on her hamstrings. The added benefit was to give him a good view of her butt.

Look and dream, pal, she thought. Look and dream.

“I heard we’re in for more snow.”

She counted off reps. “The sky’s full of it. Did you get that wood?”

“Not yet. I lost the name.”

“It’s in your coat pocket.”

“It is?”

He looked cute when he was baffled. “That’s where you stuck it after I wrote it down for you. Right pocket of your long black coat.”

“Oh.”

“Nobody seems to be thinking of health and fitness this morning,” she commented.

“Actually, there was a guy in here before. He finished up right before you came in. Great legs you’ve got there, Deputy Todd.”

“You think?” She slid a flirtatious smile onto her face, gave him a deliberate once-over. “Yours aren’t so bad, either, Dr. Booke.”

“You should’ve seen me at eighteen. Well, twenty,” he corrected. “Any time up to twenty I was the model for the guy who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach.”

“Skinny, were you?”

“A toothpick with a sign on his back saying ‘Please, pick on me.’ ”

There was a little tug of sympathy for the skinny, undoubtedly awkward boy. Remembering her mission, she ignored it. “So you decided to get cut.” She switched to work her calf muscles.

“A guy with my body type doesn’t get cut unless he devotes his life to it. I just wanted to get in shape. I read up on bodybuilding.”

She couldn’t stop the laugh. “Read up on it?”

“That’s my approach,” he said with a shrug. “Then I experimented with different programs until I found what I could do.” Obviously amused at himself, he grinned over at her. “I made charts.”

“No joke?”

“No joke,” he admitted. “Charts, graphs. A computer analysis, before and after. A merging of the intellect and the physical. Worked for me.”

“I’ll say.”

He flushed a little. “Well,

it didn’t take long to figure out that if I was going to be hiking trails, climbing into caves, hacking through the occasional jungle, I’d better be able to handle the physical part of the job. Walk a few miles in a hundred percent humidity, carrying a full pack and sensitive equipment, you realize you’d better put in a few hours a week at the gym.”

“Whatever the reason, the results are fine.”

She rose to change machines and gave him a quick pinch on the butt as she passed. When he only stared at her, she laughed. “You can pinch me back anytime, cutie.”

She worked her quads, pleased to note that she’d ruined his rhythm.

“Have you taken a tour of the island yet?”

“Not complete.” He lost count of his reps, and struggled to get his pacing back. “I’ve been working, more or less, inch by inch.”

“Next time the two of us have a couple of hours free, I’ll show you around.”

He was starting to heat up, and it wasn’t just the exercise. “I can be free anytime.”

“Now, that’s a dangerous thing to say to a woman. I like it.” She all but purred. “I like a man willing to take risks.” She licked her lips. “Have you been thinking about me?”

“Only ten or twelve times a day.”

“Ah.” She wriggled off the bench as he picked up free weights. “Another risky statement. Not to be outdone, I’ve given you considerable thought as well.”

She walked to the weights, but instead of selecting hers, skimmed a fingertip over his arm. “Mmm. All slicked up, aren’t you? Me, too.” She shifted closer, brushed bodies. “Wouldn’t we just slither and slip all over each other right now?”

Maybe, just maybe, if all the blood hadn’t drained out of his head, he’d have caught the hard-edged glint to her eyes when she smiled. But even the best man often stopped thinking with his brain when a hot, sexy, willing woman was rubbing herself against him.

“Let me put these down,” he managed. “Before I drop them on my foot. Or yours.”

“I like lean muscles on a man.” She squeezed his biceps. “Long . . . lean . . . limber.”

The weights clanged like a pair of anvils against the stand. He fisted a hand in her hair, drew her up, had his mouth a breath from hers.

Then her elbow rammed straight into his gut.


Tags: Nora Roberts Three Sisters Island Romance
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