She actually looked to the door that led belowdecks. “Really?” she asked breathlessly.

He laughed, low and sexy. “Yes. Later.”

She blew out a sigh. “You don’t mean it. You’re still just a tease.”

He checked the clasps on her vest and adjusted them. There were several layers between his fingers and her skin, but her ni**les got perky anyway.

“That good?” he asked, hands still on the vest, resting lightly against her br**sts.

She had to clear her throat to answer. “Fine. But why—”

His gaze met hers. “I’m not taking any chances with you.”

A squishy feeling settled low in her belly. “Why are you taking me with you at all? You’ve been avoiding—”

“I need a second body on board.”

So much for the squishy feeling.

He walked through the cockpit to the bridge. He stood behind the controls, feet wide, the sexiest man she’d ever seen. “You need help?” she asked.

He flashed her a quick grin that affected her pulse.

No, he didn’t need help.

“Hang on,” he said.

Sam revved the engine, watching as Becca grabbed the oh-holy-shit hand bar in front of her with a cute little squeak of surprise as the boat leapt forward.

He loved that feeling, the power beneath him, the surge of the boat as it roared to life. The very first time he’d stood behind the controls of a boat and hit the gas, he’d felt free, and that had never lessened, not once in all these years.

The wind whipped, the salty air slapping them in the face as he took Becca out to the open water for some speed. A little while later, he slowed at a hidden cove where he’d once learned to fish.

He set anchor there.

The sun was low but not down, creating long lines of fire on the ocean, bisecting the swells. The scent of the early evening was pure, fresh air, and he watched with amusement and not a little amount of lust as Becca stood there and closed her eyes. “You okay?” he asked.

“Shh. I’m giving myself a Titanic moment.”

He laughed, and she opened her eyes to smile at him. “You’ve seen the movie,” she said.

He had, years ago under duress—a date who’d insisted on watching the DVD. He’d slept through most of it, but he knew the scene Becca meant, where the hero had stood behind his woman, her back plastered to his front at the bow so she could feel herself fly across the water.

Becca was still standing at the front of the boat just like that, face to the last of the sun, when he came up right behind her. His hands settled on her hips, then her hands, which he lifted out high to her sides as the wind teased and brushed over their bodies, so close together that a piece of paper couldn’t have fit between them.

“You did see the movie,” she murmured.

He could feel her every curve as she leaned back into him, her sweet ass snuggled against his crotch. She shifted a little, and clearly felt the reaction she got out of him because she let out a shaky breath that went right through him. She shifted again, more purposefully this time, and he tightened his hands on her hips. “Watch it,” he warned.

“I’m tired of watching,” she said, “and never doing. You once told me not to play with you, but you’re playing with me. If you really wanted me, you’d have had me again by now. Stop doing this, stop making me feel things for you.”

He pulled her around, stared into her soft, warm, hurt eyes, and saw she really meant it. “Are you talking about the fact that I’m not using you for sex?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes,” she said. “I want you to use me for sex, damn it!”

“Becca.” He slid his fingers into her hair and stared into her face. “I’m not using you for sex because this isn’t just sex between us.”

“We’ve only done it once,” she said—as if he didn’t know, didn’t relive it every single night. “Of course it’s just sex,” she said, sounding pissy.

“Okay. That’s it.” He’d been holding back for . . . shit. None of his reasoning seemed valid at the moment. So he yanked off her life vest and hauled her into him.

“Hey,” she said. “Don’t I need that?”

“Not where you’re going.” He tossed her over his shoulder and headed belowdecks.

“Wait—what are you doing?” she shrieked from upside down.

“I warned you.”

She was quiet for a beat, either because she was upside down, or because he’d stunned her. “You’d better mean it,” she finally said, “’cause last time I ended up in my bed alone, all hot and bothered, and I had to handle my own business.”

Now it was his turn to go quiet for a beat, imagining just that, Becca in her bed, hot and bothered, handling her own business. It was a really great image. “You hot and bothered now?” he asked.

“Mostly just bothered.” Each word was a breathless murmur since she was bouncing up and down with his stride as he brought her into the small bedroom below. “And anyway,” she said, “I’m not getting naked with you now. I don’t even like you anymore!”

“I’m going to change your mind about both of those things,” he said, and slid his hand from her thighs to her ass.

“I’m going to need that in writing—” she started, and ended with another shriek as he tossed her to the bed.

Chapter 21