It's in His Kiss(8)By: Jill Shalvis
She gaped at him, her fear turning to temper. “The only danger I was in came from you!”
“Lucky Harbor might be a small town,” he said, “but bad shit can happen anywhere.”
“I know that,” she said. And she did. She knew far more than she should.
He was in a pair of loose black sweats, battered athletic shoes, and a T-shirt that was plastered to his flat abs and broad chest with perspiration. She realized he’d been running, hard by the look of him, though he wasn’t breathing all that heavily. If she hadn’t been feeling so defensive, she might have thought about how sexy he looked. But she was feeling defensive, so she refused to notice.
“You okay?” he asked.
Well, now was a fine time for him to ask, after he’d nearly given her a heart attack. “Yeah, I’m okay,” she said. “I’m totally okay.” Because saying it twice made it so.
“It’s late,” he said. “You should go inside.”
Becca wasn’t real good at following nicely uttered requests, much less an out-and-out order. “Maybe I was going somewhere,” she said.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “Were you?”
He wasn’t going to intimidate her. She no longer let herself get intimidated. But it wasn’t really intimidation she was feeling, not with the interesting heat churning in her belly from his nearness. Then he stepped even closer, and she forgot how to breathe, even more so when he cupped her face and tilted it up so he could study her. With a gentleness that surprised her, he stroked the pad of his thumb beneath her left eye.
“You’ve got a bruise on your face,” he said.
She pushed his hand away. “No, I don’t.”
“You do.” Those intensely green eyes held hers prisoner. “What happened?”
She reached up and touched the tender spot. “I was reading in bed and smacked myself with my flashlight and e-reader.”
He stared at her. “Is that your version of I ran into a door?”
She let out a mirthless laugh, which made his frown deepen. Apparently laughing in the face of an overprotective alpha wasn’t the right move. “Seriously,” she said. “I did this one all on my own.”
Well, shit. An overprotective, sharp alpha. “Have you ever tried to read in bed?” she asked, feeling contrary. “You hold the flashlight and e-reader above your head and if you start to fall asleep or relax, it’s smack.”
He gave one slow blink. “Maybe you should sit up when you read.”
“Maybe.” But she wouldn’t. She loved to read while lying down in bed. Which meant that she’d be hitting herself in the face again real soon.
Sexy Grumpy Surfer didn’t move, nary an inch. Then he told her why. “I’m not going anywhere until you go back inside,” he said.
He just looked at her, and she realized that he was still in protective mode.
“Fine,” she said. “Be all silent and mysterious. I’m going in.” She pointed at him. “But not because you told me to.”
His mouth twitched, but he said nothing.
“Has anyone ever told you that you have a strange sense of humor?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve heard.”
There was still the night’s chill on the air when Becca woke up the next morning. Early sun rays were doing their best to beat back the dark shadows of the night, stabbing through the cloud layer with hints of soft yellow and orange.
She rolled the kink out of her neck from sleeping on the floor. Today was the day she further depleted her savings by buying furniture.
And other essentials, such as food.
Today was also the day that she got her act together. She stared at the portable piano keyboard leaning so deceptively casual-like against one of her suitcases.
As a jingle writer, all she had to do was write a catchy tune for a given product. That was it. Write a jingle, sell it to the ad agency that had her on retainer, and accept their thanks in the form of a check.
Except she’d been having trouble for a year now. Her muse had shriveled up on her, and she was eking out only the barest minimum to keep her agency interested. Her latest assignment was simple—come up with something catchy for Cushy toilet paper. A relatively easy and insignificant enough assignment, right?