“Thanks for bringing my jacket over.” He sat down, ripping the bag of pastries open and spreading the brown paper out beneath them on the table as a makeshift plate. “Choose your weapon.”
Kara perched on the chair opposite his, her attention caught by the still warm, sweet-scented pastries.
The girl clearly had a serious sweet tooth. Dylan tucked that snippet of information away in case he ever needed to get into her good books in the future.
“Look. I’ll come straight to the point,” she said, picking up a cinnamon whirl and teasing it apart with her fingers. “My shirt comment last night was… regrettable.” She paused to enjoy a mouthful of the Danish, and Dylan took a slug of coffee and watched her eat.
She nodded, reaching for her coffee. “We’re going to be working together for this entire summer. We need to get along.”
She lifted her eyebrows at him, looking for his agreement as she pulled off another large chunk of cinnamon whirl.
“I can see that,” he said easily.
“Thing is… I’m what you’d call a ‘what you see is what you get’ kinda of girl, Dylan,” she said. He wasn't sure whether or not she was making fun of his accent. “So I’m going to be honest from the get go, so there’s no misunderstanding later.”
Whoa. This girl was turning out to be freakin’ amazing. A ‘what you see is what you get’ girl? He’d had plenty of women over the years, and not one of them could have ever been considered that.
‘What you see is what I want you to see?’ Totally.
“What I’m saying is this. I think you’re sexy, Dylan Day.” He jerked his eyes up to hers, even more surprised. “In an obvious kind of way,” she added, deflatingly, then popped the last of her pastry into her mouth.
“I think there was a compliment in there somewhere,” he said dryly, reaching for an ensaimada from the table.
“Yeah, yeah. But I find lots of men sexy, so it’s no biggie.”
“Okay then. Not so much of a compliment.”
“Hey, I’m not here to stroke your ego, Sailor. I’m here to say let’s not go down the obvious road.”
“And that would be?”
“Dancing around each other. Pretending the attraction isn’t there, and then falling into bed.”
“Are you suggesting we just have sex now and get it over with?”
She placed her mug down slowly on the table and looked at him with school ma’am eyes.
“Err, no, obviously not. I’m just saying let’s acknowledge the attraction like mature adults, and then agree not to act on it for the good of the club.”
“I knew that was too good to be true.”
She shrugged. “Are you going to eat that?” she pointed at the last remaining pastry on the table.
He pushed it towards her. “You like things that are bad for you, English.”
“It’s my downfall. I like sugar. I like fast cars. I like sexy men.” She licked sugar residue from her fingers, and Dylan’s body reacted with interest.
“I let myself have the sugar. And the cars.”
“Two out of three ain’t bad.”
“Hey, it worked for Meatloaf.”
“Do you always let hairy rockers from the eighties dictate who you screw?”
“Everyone needs a yardstick. Meatloaf just happens to be mine.”
She stood up, smoothing her hands down her minuscule skirt before holding one of them out to him across the table.
Was it a deal? Could he spend the summer around this woman without either killing her or drilling her?
“Should I spit on my palm before we shake?”
“That’s disgusting. Just shake, Sailor.”
Her hand was warm and firm, just as he imagined the rest of her body would be if he ever had the chance to find out.
She let go of his hand. “See you at work.”
Dylan touched his fingers to his forehead in salute.
He watched her pick her way off the boat onto dry land, all long limbs and swinging hair. A pang of regret bloomed in his chest. She was right of course, and she’d only said what he probably wouldn’t have had the good sense to.
He’d secured the management job at the club by the skin of his teeth. Any other boss would have asked for references and resumes. Lucien Knight had given him a shot without any of those things, and common sense told him that any romantic entanglement with Kara could jeopardise that trust he’d been awarded without having earned it.
From his vantage point on the roof deck he kept his eyes on Kara’s marching figure as he drained the last of his coffee.
She passed by the small black hatchback he’d guessed must be hers, then walked right on by the moped that would have surprised him a little but not too much. He laughed out loud when she swung herself over the driver’s door of the bright red Mustang convertible at the end of the row of shops and restaurants. Even from the far side of the beach he could hear the engine as she gunned it and left the bay in a cloud of sand.
Hell, he’d always loved Mustangs.
Kara Brookes was something else. She’d turned up unannounced, eaten his breakfast, called him sexy, and then left him for dust with nothing but a tingling palm and a growing case of frustration.
Sophie was already at the club when Kara arrived a little while later. She’d made a start on opening the stock boxes, and was kneeling on the floor surrounded by scanty lingerie and sex toys.
“Just a normal day at the office I see.” Kara dropped her bag down on the floor with a grin.
“Free samples,” Sophie said, holding up an edible, erect penis with a look of barely disguised horror.
"Classy," Kara laughed. “Lunch?”
Sophie made a ‘no-way’ face and put the choc-cock back in its box.
“Where did you get to?”
“Just giving the old Mustang a good airing,” Kara said, aware she sounded vague but reluctant to mention her visit to Dylan.
“Just don’t get yourself arrested,” Sophie said.
Kara faked offence. “As if.” They both knew she was perfectly capable of it, and she’d only wriggled off the hook one time back home because she happened to have been pulled over by a cop who’d had the hots for her in college.
“It’s just that I noticed that Dylan’s jacket had gone out of the hallway.” Sophie didn’t look up from the box she was slicing open, but Kara heard the speculative hint behind her words all the same. There was no getting anything past that girl.
“Mm. I dropped it back for him while I was out.”
Sophie glanced up, her eyebrows high above questioning eyes.
“What?” Kara rolled her eyes. “You asked me to be nice to him. I was being nice.”
“No, it’s nothing,” Sophie pulled open the carton in front of her. “It’s just…”
Kara dropped down on her knees beside Sophie and reached for an unopened box, already knowing exactly where Sophie was heading with this conversation.
“Soph, don’t worry. The last thing I’m interested in is getting involved, especially with some guy who we don’t know from Adam. He could be a mass murderer for all we know.”
“He doesn’t strike me as a mass murderer,” Sophie said neutrally. “I like him, actually. Easy on the eye, too.”
“You think?” Kara studied the inventory list for the box she’d just opened without really taking in the details. “He’s okay, I suppose.”
“You suppose.” Sophie smiled. “You suppose?”
“What do you want me to say? He’s hot? Okay, I suppose he’s hot. Kind of. If you like that sort of thing.”
“You like that sort of thing.”
“Are you telling me or asking me?”
Sophie placed the handcuffs she’d been examining for quality back in the box and twisted to face Kara, her hands on her knees.
“Kara. We’ve been friends for more than half of our lives. I know you well enough to know that Dylan Day is exactly your type, so don’t even bother denying it, okay?”
Kara sighed. “Soph, I know what you’re thinking, but trust me on this. I’m not about to have a holiday romance and end up broken-hearted again. See these fingers?” She held out her hands. “Burned. After what happened with Richard last year, I’m well and truly off that whole romance shtick.”