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“So, yeah. About this no drinking rule,” I say.

She bites her lip. “I felt like we had to drink the bourbon. Did you see that guy’s face when you said you didn’t want any? After that, I figured the damage was done. So, what the heck?”

“Damage?”

“Yeah, you know, like if you were going to hit on me because I’d been drinking, you would have done it already.”

“I don’t hit on women, Rylee.”

“No?” She studies me. “Then what is it? What do girls find so attractive about you that has them lining up to be invited into your bed?” Her eyes trace a path from my face down my arms. “I mean other than your muscles and your bank account.”

“And the fact that I’m – what was it you called me – not bad looking?”

“Yeah, other than that,” she says, trying not to laugh.

“It must be my natural charm.”

She raises an eyebrow. “If you’re so charming, how come I’m not falling at your feet?”

“Because you’re smarter than most of the girls I hang around. Except for Murphy, but she doesn’t count.”

“Are you saying a woman has to be stupid to sleep with you?”

“It’s not a requirement,” I tell her. “But it helps.”

She looks at me with serious eyes. “Brady, do you think you’re somehow not worthy of a strong, intelligent woman? Surely your self-esteem isn’t anything less than gargantuan.”

I chuckle at her comment. “My self-esteem is fine, Ry. And smart women wouldn’t put up with my rules.”

“Rules?” She chews her lip as she looks at me. “Oh, you mean don’t call me, I’ll call you and stuff like that?”

“Pretty much. I know that makes me sound like a dick, but in my defense, they all know the score. I tell them all before we, uh … you know, that I’m not looking for a girlfriend.”

Her look scolds me. “Surely you must know that some of them think they will be the one to change your mind.”

I shrug an innocent shoulder. “I suppose some do, but it’s not like they hadn’t been warned. They’re all adults and they make their own choices.”

“I guess I can’t fault you for that. I’m the same way, I suppose. I’m very focused on my career and my, uh … stuff. I don’t have the time or energy for much else.”

Stuff? Her mom? The guy she watches cruise ships with?

“But you have time for this,” I say, waving my hand at our surroundings.

“That’s only because I’ve decided you’re fun. I can always make time for fun.”

Miguel brings our meal and I look at it in a whole new light. I look at it through Rylee’s eyes. And I think I will get as much enjoyment out of this as the most expensive steak on the menu.

“Miguel, can I please see the wine list?”

“Right away.” He scurries off to fetch it for me.

“Have you learned nothing tonight?” Rylee asks.

Miguel returns with the menu and I hand it to Ry. “Pick a red and a white. Sensible ones. And I promise I’ll drink nothing more expensive than what you select for the rest of my stay.”

She smiles. She likes this game.

She peruses the entire list and then hands me the menu, pointing to her selections.

I’m impressed. She’s obviously ordered her share of wine in the past. And she didn’t even choose the house wines. The ones she chose are modest, but not cheap. Tasteful without being, what does she say, frivolous.

I eye her over the menu.

“What?” she asks. “I didn’t say you shouldn’t compromise.”

She picks up a fry and swirls it in the au jus. “Okay, you have the length of the meal to lay it on me. Don’t hold back, Taylor, I want to see your so-called natural charm that has all the ladies in a tizzy. I’ll grade you on your performance later.”

“Starting now?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says, taking a bite.

I hold her stare and watch her thoughtfully, rimming my beer glass with my finger. Then I reach over and steal one of her fries and try to eat it suggestively.

She covers her mouth to laugh. “Oh, my God,” she says around her food. “Does that really work?”

I laugh with her. “Shit. I don’t know. I don’t normally have to think about it. I just do it. You kind of put me on the spot here.”

“Well you need to relax, Casanova. Because that was just bad flirting.”

“Whatever. You see if you can do it better.”

“Anyone can do it better,” she says, laughing.

She takes a sip of beer, but some spills out of the side of her glass right into her cleavage. “Oops,” she says. Then she takes her napkin and places it deep down the V-neck of her shirt and very carefully dabs the fallen droplets from between her breasts.

Fuuuuck me.

When I stop looking at her breasts, I realize I was probably staring far too long. I catch her eyes and she raises a brow.

I pick up her napkin from where she put it on the table. “You forgot this,” I say, as I reach over and place it on her lap, grazing the inside of her thigh as my hand retreats back.

I swear I can hear her breath hitch when I touch her.

I smile as I take a few bites of my dinner.

We fall into comfortable conversation, each of us occasionally trying to one-up the other with our flirtatious gestures, words, or barely-there touches.

I’m drawn to her as she eats. I like to watch Rylee eat. It’s very sensuous. A drip of au jus trickles down her chin and I reach over and catch it on my thumb. Then I stick my thumb in my mouth and suck on it.

At that moment, Miguel comes by the table to ask if we need anything.

“I’d love another beer, Miguel,” Rylee says.

“Make it two.”

As he walks away, Rylee fans herself and pushes her thick hair behind her shoulders. “Is it hot in here?”

I have to bite my tongue and agree with her. “Yeah, it gets that way in here sometimes.”

She takes in a deep cleansing breath and I realize that all this flirting, real or not, is getting to her the same way it’s getting to me. Hell, I’ve been sitting here with a boner for ten minutes now.

When Miguel delivers our beers, we reach for them simultaneously and each take a few long gulps.

“You must be excited for the team to be coming in on Sunday,” she says. “You’ll be able to hang out with your friends for a few days.”

“You have no idea.”

“Will you go to the games?”

“Hell, yes, I’ll go. I’ll sit in the dugout and cheer them on.”

“No matter how much it hurts?” she asks in complete understanding.

“Yeah.”

She takes one more bite and then declares she’s too full to eat any more. Then she stretches her arms over her head, her t-shirt riding up her stomach to reveal a small tattoo peeking out from the low waistband of her jeans.

Shit. I have to know what that tattoo looks like up close.

She looks at me, knowing exactly what she’s doing to me.

I drink the rest of my beer in one long swallow. She drains more of her own.

Miguel sees my empty glass. “Another round, Mr. Taylor?”

I look at Rylee. She thinks about it for half a second before looking at the time on her phone. She bites her lip in contemplation. “Okay, but it will be the last one,” she says, lifting her glass as Miguel goes to fetch two more.

I look at my own phone. It’s not even nine-thirty. “Yeah, last one. It’s getting late, isn’t it? Boy, I’m tired.” I mimic her and reach my arms to the sky in a yawn and stretch that has my own shirt riding halfway up my torso.

I watch her as she looks at my abs. Yeah, Kennedy, two can play at this game.

She doesn’t even pretend not to gawk at me. And it’s damn sexy. She’s sexy. But she’s more than that. She’s smart. She’s funny. And she’s not just hot, she’s got a classic beauty about her.

Miguel puts our beers down in front of us, and before he walks away, I ask him to put the tab on my room as usual because we’re leaving.

Rylee looks at our untouched beers. “Oh, we’re leaving?”

“For the past half hour, I’ve been watching you flirt with me, Ry. But it’s more than that, if I’m being honest. It’s more than just tonight. You’re damn sexy even without all this shit we’re doing. I know we’re just playing and it’s all in fun, but if I have to sit here with this boner you’ve given me and watch you entice me for another fucking minute knowing I can’t touch you, I’m going to explode. So, yes, I’m calling you an Uber and we’re getting the hell out of here.”

I chug my beer and start walking out through the restaurant. When I realize she isn’t following me, I look back to see her studying her beer before she takes one last sip and leaves the table.

I pull out my phone to summon Lenny when Rylee’s arm comes up to stop me. “I’m not ready to go home yet,” she says, biting that bottom lip.

I shake my head. “You don’t know what you’re saying, Ry.”

She pulls me aside, into a small hallway by the elevators. “You think you’re the only one who’s been affected by this?” She points a finger between us. “I’m a big girl, Brady. I can make big girl choices.”

I pull her closer to me, close enough to smell her fruit-scented hair. “Are you sure? Because if you let me touch you, I’m not stopping until I make you scream my name.”

She shifts around, pheromones escaping from her every pore. “What’s your room number?” she asks, grabbing my hand and pulling me to the elevator.

We walk in and just before another couple joins us, she declares, “What makes you think I won’t have you screaming mine?”

Holy mother of God.

Chapter Eleven

Before the door to my suite even shuts completely, I’ve got her against the wall. I cage her between my arms and stare down at her, gauging her willingness to participate in what we’re about to do.

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