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“Three!” the emcee called out. “Incredible, folks. This is a first. No one, not a single one of you, went looking to switch partners. Nice.”

Darcy’s eyes flew open.

AJ released her hands and stepped back. He was watching her, his eyes narrowed slightly as if it bugged the shit out of him that she’d expected him to want to change partners.

“Is this a pity stay?” she asked. “It’s because I just admitted to being a big puss about being discarded, right? Well, you can just forget it. I won’t have you stick around just because—”

“Darcy,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a pity stay. There’s a pity fuck, but not a pity stay.”

She narrowed her eyes. “So you hereby solemnly swear that you aren’t feeling sorry for me?” she demanded.

“I feel a lot of things for you, Darcy, but sorry isn’t one of them.”

“Okay, back in position, everyone!” the emcee said. “Back to leaning on your partner. Ready?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she muttered and put her hands to AJ’s.

“This time one of you has to admit something to your partner,” the emcee said. “Something you’ve been holding on to. It can be as simple as, ‘I know that you’re the one who ate my precious lunch out of the office fridge,’ or as complicated as admitting a feeling that you’ve held back.”

Oh, God. This was dumb. Beyond dumb.

“Whoops,” the emcee said. “I almost forgot to tell you which one of you has to make the admission.” He laughed gleefully, clearly thoroughly enjoying himself. “The shorter of the two of you. Go.”

AJ cocked his head at her, waiting, a smug smile on his face.

“Hey,” she said. “If I was back to my old self, I’d be wearing my high-heel boots today and then we’d be the same height. And that would mean a tie and as a gentleman, you’d take your turn at this stupid gig.”

“Never claimed to be a gentleman.” He flashed a heartstopping grin. “And even in your fuck-me boots, I’m taller than you. But nice try.”

She closed her eyes and wracked her brain for an easy admission that wouldn’t hurt too much.

I’ve got a serious case of hot-for-you.

Nope. No way.

I feel really badly that I lied to Trent.

Yeah, she really should say that, but it wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have with Trent and Summer only three yards away.

I know I’ve done everything in my power to be a bitch to you, but it’s to hide the fact that I really like you.

Yeah, that one was perfect … if she’d been in middle school. Good Lord.

“We going to do this any time today?” AJ asked.

Actually, maybe she didn’t like him as much as she thought. But she did want him. Bad. She flashed him her own badass smile and—screw it—she kissed him.

Take that!

AJ stilled for a single beat and then his fingers entangled with hers and he squeezed her hands as he tilted his head and deepened the kiss.

She’d meant for it to be just a peck but clearly he had other ideas. He swept his tongue to hers and then retreated, and damn if her own tongue didn’t follow, demanding more. But he pulled free, his eyes hot and also amused.

Lifting her head to glare at him, she forgot what they were doing and once again her arms collapsed. She gasped, perfectly aware she was going down and on her face, but … she didn’t.

Again AJ caught her, his arms encircling her, her feet dangling above the ground.

“Aw, don’t they look so sweet together?” Darcy heard Summer whisper to Trent. And AJ grinned down at Darcy because they both knew he was about as sweet as a hungry mountain lion.


The second hour of the workshop wasn’t nearly as much fun as having Darcy kiss him, AJ thought. Or kissing her back until she’d gasped in surprise and stared at him like she’d never seen him before.

Nope. Nothing near as good.

Up next was the obstacle course, which was a “minefield” with chairs, balls, cones, boxes, and other objects that were potential obstacles and could trip someone up.

The catch? Every round consisted of someone being blindfolded, to be led around by the other’s voice alone.

Upon receiving these directions, Darcy turned to AJ with a wide-eyed look of such heartbreaking, genuine panic at the thought of being blindfolded, he volunteered.

Fucking sucker, Wyatt would’ve said.

It wasn’t until they’d been divided up among several hotel boardrooms for their turn that the rest of the exercise came out. If the one doing the vocal guiding got the other through the obstacle course in less than five minutes each, they got to ask a question of their partner.

It was like some big game of Truth or Dare, but with both truth and dare.

And of course AJ was up first.

Trent clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Good luck, man.” He and Summer were to go right after AJ and Darcy, with Summer being the blindfolded one.

“Guess we know who the most trusting ones are, don’t we,” Summer murmured to AJ with a low laugh.

Darcy had given him a look of surprise, like she hadn’t realized he trusted her.

How the hell could she be surprised? But then again she didn’t have a lot of experience with trust. Given away by her parents over and over again, often separated from her siblings without any communication allowed, then later as an adult wanderlusting all over the planet on her own, she’d rarely let anyone in, much less allowed herself the luxury of trust.