However, Craig wasn’t a psychic. He didn’t know if they had a future or not. How could he? And he didn’t know if he’d ever hurt her or if she’d ever hurt him. All he knew was that he would never intentionally hurt her. The feelings she inspired in him—tenderness, thrill, lust, possessiveness—meant something. No woman had ever inspired this desperation, this mounting need to be around her, with her, and, yes, inside her. He liked to think he was a smart man, and that a smart man wouldn’t run away from this kind of extraordinary. A smart man would stick around and fight for it. Even if he couldn’t promise a happily ever after.

But what man could promise such a thing?

Frustrated, Craig practically growled under his breath. The problem was he had two things working against him: Rain’s preoccupation with Angus, and her bloody romantic nature. Craig had to divert her attention from the whole revenge scheme, and he also had to convince her that there was being romantic and then there was being impossible. He wouldn’t ask her to change her romantic nature—he actually found it fucking adorable considering how straightforward and businesslike she could be—but he would ask her to see sense. No one knew what the future held. You just had to take what you had right now and make the best of it. He could offer her that. He could offer her everything she was asking for and a certainty that what was between them was worth exploring. But he couldn’t promise the certainty of their future together and he didn’t think that made him a bad guy. It just made him a realist.

Could a realist and a romantic ever work together?

Rain stepped out of the ladies’ restroom, her gaze instantly zeroing in on him. Just the sight of her caused this pang of wonder in his chest and desire to pound in his blood. He remembered the mind-blowing kisses they’d shared and how the encounter differed from his encounters with other women. The passion between them wasn’t just something he felt in his dick . . . it was something he felt in his blood, in his skin, and in the needful tug in his gut.

Fuck yes, he thought, a realist and a romantic can definitely make it work.

So he would offer friendship in the hope of wearing her down.

He grinned at the thought, secretly hoping that wearing her down wouldn’t take too long at all.

“What are you grinning at?” she said, eyes narrowed in suspicion.


“It’s not nothing. You look like you’re planning something.”


At that moment the staff member returned with the coffee and green tea and Craig noted he studiously avoided looking at Rain. An inner growl of satisfaction didn’t surprise Craig. He’d gone caveman after years of not giving a shit.

Rain picked up her cup of tea and sipped it. “You really do mean to interfere with my plans today, don’t you?”


He felt pleasure roll through him as she tried to suppress a laugh and failed.

“What am I to do with you?” she sighed, shaking her head at him like he was a naughty schoolboy.

“Take a walk with me,” he said, taking hold of his own coffee. “We’ll finish up here and then just stroll about. It’s a nice day out. Unless”—his gaze dropped to the floor where he saw her heels peeking out beneath the table—“you can’t walk too long in those sexy-as-fuck shoes.”

She ignored his purr of flirtation. “Sweetheart, I’ve been wearing heels since I was fourteen. I could run a marathon in these bitches.”

Craig laughed. “I like that.”

“Like what?”

“You calling me ‘sweetheart.’”

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion again. “I thought we were just going to be friends?”

“Friends flirt.” He shrugged.

“Only the kind that fuck.”

Lust hit him in the gut and traveled straight to his dick. He shifted uncomfortably, taking in a slow breath.

Obviously seeing the heat in his eyes, Rain leaned back in her chair as if to distance herself from it. “Seriously? I can’t even use that word without it turning you on?”

“Considering the sight of your mouth wrapping around that word makes me picture said mouth wrapped around something else, then no . . . Unless we’re somewhere I can do something about my hard-on, then please don’t say that word.”

Her eyes widened at his brutal honesty before her gaze flew around the room. When it came back to him she looked annoyed. “You can’t speak like that in public. Someone might have heard you.”

“Coming from the woman who just used the word ‘fuck’ in relation to the actual act.”

She stared at him a moment and then huffed, “Fair enough.”

Craig chuckled, amused at his inability to pretend mere friendship with this woman. “The whole friends thing isn’t working out quite as planned.”

Rain smirked, amusement gleaming from those gorgeous big dark eyes of hers. “No, it’s not. Which is why I thought it was a bad idea to begin with.”

“It’s not a bad idea. According to my mother the secret to a long-lasting relationship is friendship and passion. My ears were practically bleeding at the time she was going on about it,” he joked, “but now I think those were wise words. So friendship? Not a bad idea. Pretending this could be just a friendship? Bad idea.”

“Craig . . .” Rain lowered her gaze to her cup. “I told you I can’t.”

“Will you try the friendship part at least if I promise to leave the other stuff out of it? At the moment,” he added.

“Why are you so determined?” She leaned forward, desperation in her eyes that at once made him want to protect her, but also made him want to howl with satisfaction. She wouldn’t be feeling desperate if she didn’t feel something for him. Something she didn’t want to feel, but she felt nonetheless.

Shit. When he finally met a woman he actually wanted around in the morning he had to go and choose one as complicated as bloody Rain Alexander.

“Is it because you want to sleep with me and haven’t yet?”

Irritation coursed through him like a whiplash. “No, it isn’t, and it’s an insult to both of us to suggest otherwise.”

She glowered at him. “You can’t get angry at me for jumping to that conclusion, Craig. You are the biggest flirt I’ve ever met and you tried to get into my knickers the first night we met.”

“Well now I’m trying to get to know you.” He threw back the last of his coffee, attempting to quell his exasperation. “And if you weren’t so goddamn stubborn you’d just let me.”


“Because I like being around you,” he admitted.

That seemed to take the wind out of her sails. Rain slumped in her seat. “You like being around me?”

“Yes. For some crazy reason I do.”

Her lush mouth curled up at the corners at his teasing remark. Their gazes held for what felt like forever, the coffeehouse disappearing around them, until the world consisted of just them.

“Okay,” Rain finally said, the word soft, “let’s get to know one another better.”

Relief, more relief than he’d ever expected to feel, rushed through him. “Does that mean you’ll take that stroll with me?”

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