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SEEING RED
by Jill Shalvis

Genre: General Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Romance

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“Actually, I was thinking of another stress reliever entirely.”

He watched as she chucked it hard. “Like what?”

“Like the kind that involves the oblivion of a good orgasm.”

In the dark, her self-deprecating smile didn’t shoot to his heart, but straight between his thighs.

For a long moment, she was quiet, reflective. Then she asked the million-dollar question. “Did you ever wonder what it would be like between us?”

He looked into her warm, dreamy eyes and felt everything within him react. “This is a bad idea.”

“What? We’re just talking.”

“Yeah, about what it’d be like between us.”

“All I’m getting at is how can one really great night without strings be a bad idea?”

“Red.” Christ. He was only human here. “We have a past. That makes it impossible to do the no-strings thing.”

“Hey, I can make a no-strings night work with just about anyone.” Her smile turned self-mocking. “It’s a special talent of mine.”

He’d held the same talent. In fact, in a true ironic twist, the last person he’d had any deep, emotional ties to had been her. Knowing that, there was no way for him to make just talking to her casual, much less a physical intimacy.

If they slept together, she’d do him in for sure.

“You know what I want?” she asked softly.

His body leapt in spite of himself. Yeah, he was pretty clear on what she wanted. To escape, to forget. She’d just never wanted it from him before. “The oblivion of a good orgasm.”

She closed her eyes, hiding. She was good at that too. “Besides an orgasm. I want to go home, Joe.”

“That’s easy enough.”

“I need a ride.”

No. Don’t offer. Don’t say a word. “I’ll take you,” his mouth said, clearly disconnected from his brain.

She smiled at him, the kind that used to grab him by the throat and squeeze until he couldn’t breathe. Then she nudged his shoulder with hers, an old gesture that brought him back years.

He nudged her back, and with a laugh, she staggered toward the water, laughing, losing her balance. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her upright, knocking her right into his body.

Bracing herself with a hand to his chest, her fingers curling into him, her grin slowly faded. “You know what gets me?”

“Um...” His mind raced. “The ridiculous price of gasoline?”

“No.”

“The amount of crumbs at the bottom of a box of cereal?”

“Silly.” She smiled, but it was a sad one. “What gets me is that you sound the same.” Her fingers tested the strength of him, from pec to pec. “But you sure don’t feel the same.”

She just danced her fingers to his shoulder, down his spine, slowly but not tentatively, tearing away his defenses as only she could. “Don’t,” he managed.

Her other hand joined the fray.

God, don’t. “Red—”

 “You feel good, Joe.”