No strings attached
he’d long since learned that he wanted more from sex than the obvious fun. He wanted a connection, a woman to touch him in more than the physical way. He just wasn’t sure Chloe was that woman. Not if she only had it in her to see man as the enemy.
    If they didn’t have anything going for them as a couple beyond the banter, the innuendo and the sex, then she was right that this time spent together was nothing more than a favor between friends. Eric hadhoped it might be more. He’d wanted for a long time to discover the source of their sparks.
    The gIRL-gEAR offices fronted on an east-west cross street rather than onto Kirby Drive, so he knew she wasn’t watching out the window for him to pull into the front parking lot. He wondered what she was thinking because, though she faced away, at an angle, he could sense her pensive demeanor from the stiff set of her shoulders and hips.
    She wore a flowing dress, pink, of course, a floral print that draped loosely over her lower body, hugging her waist and her bustline, yet teasing more than revealing most of her amazing curves. The hem, a flouncy type of ruffle thing matching the ruffled collar, hit just above her knees. Her legs were bare.
    And that played perfectly into Eric’s plans to pay her back for yesterday’s kitchen encounter.
    When he’d come downstairs from his second shower, fully dressed and ready to deal with the conversation they needed to have about what was going on between them, he’d wavered between disappointment and relief when he’d found Chloe gone.
    It really didn’t surprise him that she’d hoofed it. She’d been in a strangely prickly mood since they’d left the park. He’d wanted, on the drive back, to ask what was on her mind. He knew she’d enjoyed the volleyball tourney. No denial she could possibly make would change his opinion on that.
    But she hadn’t said anything at all. She’d just stared out the car window, a funny sort of thoughtful crook to her mouth, as if trying to remember why she’d held such a grudge against sports in the first place. Or replaying the reason and finding it no longer held much water.
    Sooner or later he’d get to the bottom of yesterday’s disappearance. He’d also figure out why she’d been so adamant that they keep their exchange of favors nonsexual, then had stripped him naked in his kitchen the first time they found themselves alone.
    Today, however, he had his first part of their three-part bargain to uphold.
    And a self-made promise to keep.
    “Tell me something, Chloe.”
    She gave a start when he spoke, pulling in a gulp of air and shaking off the surprise before turning calmly from the window and offering him her usual chop-busting smile. “Anything you want to hear, sugar.”
    Facing him now, she wrapped her fingers over the waist-high headrest of her funky mesh ergonomic chair. It was a telling sort of movement in that she deliberately kept the chair between them instead of moving to the door to link her arm through his and join the reception in the lobby.
    “What help am I going to be to your reputation if you hide out in your office instead of mingling and giving the press the sound bites they’re here for?” He stayed where he was, his pride preferring she make the choice to come to him.
    She didn’t move except to tilt her head slightly to the right. The curved ends of her white-blond pageboy brushed her shoulder. “Actually, I was trying to decide if staying in here wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. Especially since any best foot I might put forward is still recovering from yesterday’s sandblasting.”
    “A tough cookie like you? Done in by a little sand?” Eric gave a snort. “I don’t believe it.”
    Chloe narrowed her eyes until the barest sliver of violet peeked through the slits of lashes and lids. “I am not a tough cookie.”
    “Princess, you are the toughest cookie I know. You don’t take crap from anyone. You know what you want and you go for it.” He

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