Ainslie Paton romance author

Some Toast with a Sample of Jam

“What’s got you smiling?”

Bree pulled her jacket on quickly and turned to find Anthony standing there.  He had his suit coat off and slung over his shoulder and the cuffs of his white shirt turned back and rolled up so she could see tanned forearms.  There were little beads of moisture on his forehead.  He looked hot, and bothered by it.

Hopefully he hadn’t noticed how bruised her shoulder was.   “The weather.”

He nodded.  The top button of his shirt was undone and his tie was pulled out from his collar.  It was maddeningly inconvenient that he was so delicious to look at.  Not even Bree’s suspicion and general wariness about him was enough to wean her off how much she appreciated his whole physical package.

He smiled.  “It’s the kind of heat that feels dirty, unless there’s a sea breeze behind it.”

Good God.  He’d said the words heat and dirty in the same sentence.  They flew across the melting pavement between them and invaded her body like little lust missiles.  He’d said the word breeze and she’d felt a whisper soft caress.  And he smiled at her.  She was half tempted to look around to see if he was talking to someone else.  She tucked her head down and looked at her shoes.  There was no reason to respond.  She had no response.  Her tongue had melted.  How was it possible for a man she distrusted so much to be able to do that to her?  She needed to shut that down, right now.  Hard.

She’d been so worried Monday morning after G-man and his crew were at the track she’d watched him like he was highly flammable.  Because if he’d twigged, it would make things very hot for her.  She had a strategy.  If he mentioned it:  deny it, laugh it off, tell him he needed an eye check-up.  As strategies go, it might as well have been designed by Tom.  It was lame, dumb, but it was all she had.  Because there was no way she trusted him to keep the secret like Chris did.  No matter what Toni said, Anthony was the ultimate competitor, he’d use whatever he could to get ahead and if that meant making her secret common knowledge she didn’t think he’d hesitate for a second to send leading comments her way until the curiosity of the whole team, heck the whole office would be focussed her way.  And not with the kind of attention she needed.

But he’d treated her no differently.  He didn’t look at her more or less often.  He didn’t talk to her more or less often.  He did however lose the worst of his pissed-off-ness.  She got her usual good morning, her usual offer to bring back coffee or a sandwich, her usual good night.  After a few days of this she stopped waiting for him to confront her or start with the innuendos.  It seemed Kitty was safe to ride again.

But Bree had wobbly knees.

Maybe it was seeing him track-side looking weekend casual and slightly out of sorts surrounded by his coupled-up mates, or it was all the surreptitiously checking him out she’d been doing since then, watching to see if he was going to give the game away.

He’d be easier to ignore when the words coming out of his mouth conjured up end-of-year tax returns not sultry nights, silk sheets and dirty sex.  Why did he have to say that?  Couldn’t they have had that stupid, forgettable state the obvious weather conversation you generally had with people?

He moved first and she followed him up the buildings front stairs to the foyer.  When the doors slid open it was like standing in front of a dinosaur-sized fridge.  The cold air wrapped around her and relief shot straight to Bree’s head.  She sighed aloud.  Anthony groaned with pleasure, lifting his face to the ceiling, bearing his neck.  Oh God.  It was too easy imagining him doing that when…. shut that down, right now.

They looked at each other and laughed.  It was the single most personal moment they’d shared in twelve months.  Then they got in the lift with a bunch of other people and went to their floor, went to their desks and the next thing Bree knew she was nodding goodnight to him across the office, and he was barely looking up at her as she left and everything was as it should be.

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