The guys waded into the water behind us, and I said, “Time to snag you your hot Aussie.”

Jenny smiled. “Patience. Trust me, I’ve been hanging out with him long enough to figure out, he needs a little push. A bit of jealousy should do the trick.”

I almost felt a little sorry for Tau. Jenny was gorgeous, all dark to my light. Dark hair, brown eyes, tanned skin. As she scanned the bath, I knew she wouldn’t have an issue finding someone to make Tau jealous over.

“And what are you looking to snag tonight?” she asked.

“Just a bit of adventure.”

A couple playing chicken toppled into the pool a few feet away, sending a wave of water over both of us.

“I think you’ve found it!” she shouted, wiping at her eyes.

I did the same, and smiled.

I had found it. This was what I’d been looking for. The kind of experiences I couldn’t get in Texas. Maybe it was naive, but being here—visiting places and doing things that most people didn’t—it made me feel . . . special. It made me feel successful in a way that a college degree and a padded bank account hadn’t. Even if I never did anything else of note in my life, if I spent the rest of my days in a loveless marriage or a porcelain home like my mother, at least I had this to remember. At least I had these memories to set me apart from the crowd.

We moved farther into the pool, and Jenny wasted no time before leading us up to two guys. She was kind of the perfect wing woman. Together, we could take the partying world by storm.

“I’m Jenny,” she said to the nearest guy. “This is my friend Kelsey. And you are gorgeous.” He was actually. Tanned skin, killer green eyes, and shaggy hair that was curling in the steam. She added belatedly, “Oh, and that’s John and Tau.”


Damn, she was good. Her brother and her crush held back a bit from the group, and I could see the way Tau’s eyes followed her as she smiled and chatted with her new conquest.

I didn’t know whether to talk to Jenny’s friends or the cute guy’s friend. The friend was attractive too, tall and kind of skinny with long blond hair. But to be honest, I didn’t really feel like talking to either. Jenny was easy to hang with because she just talked, and she didn’t ask too many questions. She was a party friend, the kind that you click with instantly because you have similar partying styles, but don’t have to actually put forth any effort. John and Tau were different. They were both on the quiet side, and I felt like I had to work to talk to them. And the cute guy? Well . . . I didn’t have a great excuse for why I didn’t want to talk to him. I was trying to convince myself into starting a conversation when he beat me to it.

He said, “Kelsey? That’s your name?”

I nodded. “And you are?”

“Lukas.” He spoke excellent English, with just a slight trace of an accent. German maybe? He asked, “Are you two sisters?”

Jenny and I looked at each other and smiled. We didn’t particularly look alike. She was dark to my light, but our bodies were similar enough.

I smiled at Lukas and said, “We are.”

He pushed some of his hair back and gave me a wicked smile. God knows what it was with guys, but there was something about the idea of sisters that drove them nuts.

“Where are you from?” Jenny’s guy asked. His accent was thicker than his friend’s.

Jenny flipped her hair and answered, “Holland.”

I saw Tau roll his eyes and scowl.

Lukas turned to me and said, “Oh?” Followed by a string of noises that I was guessing was Dutch. I gave Jenny a look.

Really? The guy had a German accent, and she picked a country right next door to his? She couldn’t have gone for something like, I don’t know, Sweden?

I laughed and placed a hand on his shoulder, hoping to flirt my way out of it.

If that didn’t work, I could always make a swim for it. My eyes went to the space between Lukas and Jenny, my escape path, if I needed it. And as if the universe had framed him for me in that space, I saw Hunt.

I blinked once, wondering if I was hallucinating him because of the heat, but he was still there. His head started turning toward me, and I panicked.

I gripped Lukas’s other shoulder, and spun him until my back was to Hunt. The water sloshed around us, but there were so many people that he couldn’t have seen. Lukas’s hands gripped my waist, and I let it happen because the last thing I needed to do was cause a scene.

It was only after my back was turned that I allowed myself to acknowledge how devastatingly gorgeous Hunt looked. I’d felt the muscles beneath his clothing, imagined them this morning, but seeing them in the flesh even for just a second put that all to shame.

And for the first time in a long time . . . I was nervous.

Jenny turned and raised an eyebrow at me. “What’s up, Kels?” Subtext: Hey, psycho . . . what’s your problem?

What was my problem? He was just a guy. Guys had never been a challenge for me . . . or not in a long time anyway. But this guy . . . he had me on the ropes without even trying. All I knew was that there were a hundred girls in bikinis here, and I was sure I was the only one that had tried to kiss him with vomit-breath.

I resisted the urge to peer over my shoulder and told Jenny, “Nothing. I’m fine. Just someone I’d rather not see.” And was dying to see simultaneously. Way to make sense, brain.

Truthfully . . . I didn’t get him. And when I thought I had, I’d been wrong. It was that uncertainty, that complete lack of control, that made him the scariest damn thing I’d encountered in a long time. And the complete opposite of what I told myself tonight was going to be. I said, “There’s five other bath places, right?”

We could just move on. Find another place to party.

“Yes, but . . .” Jenny threw a smile at the guys and said, “We can’t leave yet.” She moved to stand closer to her catch. I sighed. I didn’t want to make her have to start over with operation jealousy.

“They could come with us.”

I lifted my chin to look at Lukas, and he tightened his arms around my waist.

Jenny turned and peered past my shoulder. “Who are you running from anyway— Oh!”

“Oh? Oh! What does ‘oh’ mean?”

A smile crossed her face that made my stomach jump in anticipation.

She turned to the two guys and said, “Could you give us just a second?” She took hold of my shoulders and Lukas’s fingernails grazed my skin lightly as she pulled me out of his reach. She moved us over a few feet before asking quietly, “Would the person you don’t want to see happen to be a gorgeous piece of man candy with a buzz cut and biceps that some ancient civilization probably worshiped?”

I swallowed. “Please tell me the reason you know that is because you’re psychic.”

“No, honey. I’ve just got eyes.”

Speaking of eyes, I swear I could feel his on my back, and I thought my spine might curl in on itself from the way it tingled.

“He’s watching me?”

“Like you’re the last piece of cake.”

The water temperature felt like it was rising, and it had already been hot.

Jenny asked, “Just looking for a piece of adventure, my ass. You already have an adventure. Who is he?”

An enigma.

“Just a guy I met the other night,” I answered.

“And why the hell would you not want to see him? Did he have herpes or something? Because that’s a damn shame. Like paint splattered all over a Van Gogh. Or a naked Ryan Gosling. “

“It wasn’t that kind of meeting.”

She clucked her tongue. “Also a shame. So, then why are you avoiding him?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

As intriguing as I found him, I didn’t like the way he made me feel. Jumbled and uncertain and naked in a way that had nothing to do with my current lack of clothing. Lukas was the better option. Easier to pinpoint and control.

“Well . . . you’re right about that. Because he doesn’t seem interested in avoiding you.”

That was all the warning I got before hot breath caressed my ear, and a deep voice said, “Nice to see you again, Kelsey.”

With my heart on pause, I turned and my mouth went dry. I met his dark eyes through the steam, and my paused heart leapt into action.


Standing face to chest with a glorious set of pectorals, I couldn’t make my mouth form the appropriate greeting. God bless Bowflex and free weights and whatever other magic gave him that body. Jen was right . . . it was a work of art.

He said, “How are your cheeks this evening?”

Oh, you know, flaming.

“Uh . . . good.”

Good. My cheeks are good.

He stood there, tall and silent and nodding, with that perpetually clenched jaw. The tension between us grew thicker than the steam, and I just couldn’t understand why in the world this guy was standing across from me.

He’d seen me at my worst, and then he’d rejected me. Why come back for round two?

He slid closer to me, and I felt the flow of the water around me change. My body instantly responded to his closeness, and his cocky smile told me he could tell. His arm brushed my chest, and the tips of my breasts tightened. I made a strangled sound somewhere between the wheezing of a fat asthmatic and the squeak of a dog’s chew toy. In other words, the noise that came out of my mouth was light-years away from being sexy. He chuckled and kept reaching past me to extend his hand to Jenny. With his body invading my space, and my face close enough to him that I could see close-up the stubble on his jaw, he focused on her. “Hello, I’m Hunt. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m Jenny. Likewise.”

Even his name sent tingles down my spine.

“Is that short for Hunter?” I’d been wondering.

He pulled back from Jen, but stayed firmly inside my personal bubble. His face tipped down toward mine, and he murmured, “It’s not.”

“So your parents just named you Hunt?”

“Not exactly.”

“God, vague much?”

He smiled, and that smile reached into my chest and rearranged everything in me.

“There you go calling me God again.”

Where was a desk when I needed to slam my head against it?

Lukas chose that moment to reappear at my side, and one desk wouldn’t have been enough. I needed a whole fucking classroom.

Hunt glanced briefly in his direction, then at Tau and John standing nearby, before focusing back on me. He said, “I didn’t realize you were here with others.”

I grinned. “You scared of a little competition?”

He laughed, and the sound unrolled down my spine on a shiver. He looked at me like the idea of him having competition was absurd. And damn it if he wasn’t right.

He asked, “What about your other friends? The ones from the other night?”

I shrugged. “We weren’t really friends. But this is Jenny.” I latched on to her like she was my lifeboat.

He smiled. “Yes. We met. A few seconds ago.”

I would welcome Armageddon if it would shut my stupid mouth.

“Right. We’re staying in the same hostel.” A hand slid across the small of my back, a large male hand that didn’t belong to Hunt. Lukas. Damn it. “Because we’re sisters. And it makes sense for sisters to stay in the same place.”

Foot . . . meet mouth.

Jenny stood next to me, a peculiar look on her face. And I could imagine it was odd . . . watching me self-destruct. No need to visit Mount Vesuvius, I was my own natural disaster.

Jenny clapped her hands together. “Oookay, I believe it’s time for drinks. I know I could use one . . . Kelsey?”

Oh God, yes. I could use a vodka IV drip right about now.

But then I looked at Hunt, and remembered where alcohol had gotten me the night we first met. If I hadn’t been so drunk, things could have gone very differently. He wouldn’t have rejected me, my brain wouldn’t currently be a disaster zone, and I would have gotten him out of my system that first night.

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