TWO WEEKS until TOO CLOSE TO RESIST officially releases. This is one of my absolute favorite scenes.
There he was, in the distance. She purposefully focused on the two buckets she had on the patio table. Watching him run could be…distracting, and she wasn’t going to be distracted.
She picked up one bucket of lemonade, and when he was close enough, she put her plan into action.
Right as he looked up, she upended the contents of the bucket over the balcony. He tried to move out of the way, but surprise allowed most of the contents to hit their target. When he didn’t move, instead just stood there holding his arms out as liquid dripped off, she upended the other.
“Damn it, Grace. This is not funny.” He shook his fist at her, which made him look even more ridiculous, and she doubled over in laughter.
“By the way,” she said, struggling to stop laughing enough to speak, “it’s not water.”
When he dropped a very loud F-bomb, Grace laughed even harder.
He peeled off the wet shirt, cursing impressively for a repressed suit. But her humor was short-lived when the chorus of oh, craps returned. Because she hadn’t exactly expected him to take off his shirt and give her a firsthand view of the hard plane of his chest or the slight ridges of his abs.
And his shoulders without a stupid polo or button-up were quite impressive, and that tattoo? Well, that was—
Wait a second.
“You have a tattoo!”
He quickly flung his wet T-shirt over his shoulder, hiding the black mark of ink before she had a chance to make out what it was. “No.”
“I saw it!”
“No, you didn’t.” She opened her mouth to argue, but he was stomping away. Delighted with herself for finding out Mr. Stuffy had a wild side, Grace scurried into the house, determined to find him before he could put his shirt back on.
Kyle had a tattoo. The very thought made her giggle. She bounded down the stairs, hoping that the design was something hugely embarrassing. A butterfly. Fairy wings. A unicorn. Oh, the possibilities of her imagination were endless.
All the crap he’d given her about her tattoo and he had one. It was too great. She laughed again, unable to stop herself.
She managed to get to the bottom of the stairs just as he stepped into the house. The shirt was still draped over his shoulder.
“You have a tattoo,” she repeated, poking a finger at him. “I saw it.” She tried to reach for the T-shirt to pull it off his shoulder, but he was too fast and stepped away. “Come on. Let me see it. After all the crap you’ve given me about mine, I deserve to see what yours is.”
“The difference is I don’t flaunt mine.” He turned his back to her, tried to exit on that line, but she grabbed his shirt in the nick of time, starting a tug-of-war with him. He won, but had to turn in order to do so. When he faced her, his eyes were blazing angry, his scowl wedged so deep, grooves appeared around his mouth.
A smart woman would back off. He was livid. It was the principle of the thing as much as it was fascination in making Mr. Reserved and Stoic lose his cool. “Don’t be such a baby about it.” She tried to snatch the shirt again.
His hands clamped around her wrists. “Knock it off,” he growled through clenched teeth.
It probably said something wrong about her that his authoritative directive and his big hands around her wrists caused a slow, tingling sensation of awareness to flow over her skin.
“I just want to see it.” She blinked up at him as he stepped close enough to her that their knees were touching. She could smell the lemonade on him, feel the sticky sugar of it on his hands. If she leaned just a few centimeters forward, her breasts would brush his wet, sticky chest. The tingling of awareness went deeper now, became more of a longing.
“It was a stupid mistake I made a long time ago. Forget it.” His voice was low and strained, as if it was with great effort he spoke at all.
His eyes, that dark, intense blue, held her gaze. She was tempted, so damn tempted, to close the little distance between them. The weirdest thing though was, from the way his eyes held hers, the way his jaw clenched tight as if he was holding back, she had a feeling he was just as tempted.
It was hard to catch a full breath with her heart beating so damn fast, and when she spoke it came out breathless. “Are you thinking about making another stupid mistake?”
He didn’t speak or move for a full thirty seconds. She knew, because she was counting. It was the only thing that kept her from imagining what it might be like to let him touch her, press his mouth to hers.
His hands gentled on her wrists, and then he let them go. He exhaled loudly. “I don’t make stupid mistakes anymore,” he said flatly.