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Her hair was loose and still wet enough to be sending little rivulets of water down her shoulders and chest, soaking into her towel. Not that he was noticing, or counting each and every single drop as it vanished.

“We have a problem,” he said.

Her eyes zeroed in on his crotch, and the unmistakable bulge there. “Again?”

“Not that,” he said, and rose off the bed.

“Oh, no you don’t. Stay away. I mean it,” she said and pointed at him. “You stay right over there and don’t even think about coming any closer. Your lips might fall on mine again.”

True story, although her lips had been right with him the first time—not that he was stupid enough to point that out.

“You need to go,” she said.

“You were limping when you left dinner.”

“I always limp.”

“I wanted to make sure you were alright,” he said.

“You ever hear of texting?”

“You ignore my texts,” he said. “Maybe I should sext.”

“Look at you with all the funny lately.” She turned away. “I’m fine. I did what you asked. Now let yourself out.”

“Damn,” he said. “You’re really good at that.”

“At what?”

“Pushing people away.”

A knock sounded at the door. “Room service!”

AJ opened up, signed for the delivery, and kicked the door closed. “Didn’t we just eat?”

“Sometimes a girl just needs mac and cheese.” She took the tray, lifted off the cover, and still in nothing but a towel, scooped a big bite. And then another. “Oh my God,” she moaned in that voice she used in his dreams, like Yum, AJ, I want to eat you up …

After a few bites, she looked over at him. “You’re still here why?”

“At dinner you mentioned the view from this floor,” he said, “and Trent mentioned he was on the same floor as you.”

“Yeah. So?”

“So after we finished tonight, we hit the elevator together.”

“Uh-huh. Still not getting why you’re here being a perv.”

He inhaled slow and deep. It didn’t help. “You pretended to be in love with me.”

“Yeah. And I pretended to love kissing you, too. So what?”

He met her gaze, trying to work out the best way to deal with this. He could leave her alone the way she so clearly wanted. His bruised ego could certainly use the break from her. But something was telling him to stay, that she needed him.

Which was ridiculous. She didn’t need anyone. “First of all, he expected me to be sharing a room with you, and second …” Don’t do it … But he did. “There was nothing pretend about that damn kiss,” he said. “Not tonight, and not the first time we kissed, either.”

She sucked in a breath. “We agreed to never discuss that.”

“Actually, I never agreed to any such thing.”

“No?” she asked, her voice glacial. “Well, clearly it sucked so bad that you didn’t want to discuss it.”

Since her tone didn’t match her words it took him a minute to catch up. She couldn’t actually believe that, could she? It didn’t make sense. It was so past time to bail on this conversation before they went down a path he didn’t intend to travel. Ever. “We’re not doing this now,” he said.

“Of course not.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means whatever you say goes,” she snapped.

“If only that were true.”

Her eyes were lit and her body language screamed that she was spoiling for a fight, and damn if it didn’t turn him on—which was not the appropriate response, he told himself. But his self wasn’t listening. “Lie facedown on the bed,” he said.

She choked out a laugh and crossed her arms, which plumped up her perfect breasts to mouth-watering proportions. “In your dreams.”

“You’re limping,” he said. “You’re holding yourself in a way that says you’re in pain. We both know I can help with that.”

She stared at him for a long beat and finally moved to the bed—which spoke volumes on how bad she must hurt. She lay flat, head on her arms, eyes closed.

He drew a deep breath and sat at her hip. Her hair fanned away from her face, wet and silky. Her face was drawn, her mouth a little pinched.

Yeah. She was in bad shape.

He began to slowly massage her spinal cord over her towel, very purposely keeping her covered. “What the hell was tonight really about?” he finally asked.

“You’ll have to be more specific.”

The towel kept rising up the backs of her gorgeous thighs. He kept tugging it down. “You pretending we were a couple.”

“I told you, I was trying to help you.”

“I’m a little fuzzy on how lying to Trent helps me,” he said.

“Look, if it’s a problem for your high moral standards, then tell him I’ve got some condition where I speak out of turn, like Tourette’s.”

He decided to drop it. For now. Mostly because with his hands on her like they were, he was afraid he might be tempted to wrap them around her throat and strangle her.

Twenty minutes later she finally let out a shuddery sigh and relaxed. “Thanks,” she murmured and rose, heading to the minibar. “Make sure you bill me in full for that, no more pro bono.”