Triple Dare(3)

By: Regina Kyle

“Duh. Why else? So I can wet you down. Now shut up and spread ’em.”


* * *

IVY NELSON TRIED to maintain an air of cool, disinterested professionalism as she strode forward, holding the spray bottle of water and glycerin in front of her like a deadly weapon. But it wasn’t easy. Cade Hardesty in all his nearly naked glory was even hotter than she’d imagined. And she’d done a heck of a lot of imagining.

She slowed then stopped, her legs turned to wax. The hand with the bottle dropped to her side and she swallowed hard. With her free hand, she tugged on the hem of her shirt, suddenly aware of the wide expanse of fleshy, chalk-white skin showing above the waistband of her shorts.

Stop it. So what if you’re not a size two—or even an eight? You’re not Jabba the Mutt anymore.

She tightened her grip on the bottle, squeezing it so hard the plastic crinkled in her fist, and steeled her resolve. She’d photographed hundreds of models, male and female. Had her hands all over some of the best bodies in the business. Cade was no different.

Except he was. He was her first love, the boy she’d spent her youth doodling about in her notebook even though he’d never seen her as more than his best friend’s pesky twin sister, an easy mark for a dare and good for an occasional laugh.

“Are we going to do this or what?” The boy was a man now, the picture of masculine yumminess with his arms crossed over his broad, tanned chest, all hard lines and warm, firm muscle. Years of high school and college athletics followed by a career fighting fires had honed his body into sheer male perfection. Bulging biceps. Washboard abs. Powerful thighs and toned, trim calves. Hell, even his bare feet were sexy. And as for what the G-string was so not hiding...

The hairs rose on Ivy’s arms and the back of her neck.

Hell to the yes. We’re going to do this, all right.

“Earth to Ivy.” Cade brushed a lock of honey-blond hair from his forehead, revealing baby blues framed by impossibly long lashes, perfect for a woman, downright sinful on a man. “I’m freezing my ass off here.”

She craned her neck to risk a glance at his backside. Nope. His fine, firm ass was most definitely still there.

“I’ll turn down the AC.” Her false bravado back in place, she sashayed past him and raised the thermostat until she heard it click off.

Great. She was already burning up. Now she just might burst into flames.

Why did Hank have to hurt his back? And why had she agreed to fill in for him? She hadn’t even been home a week. She was supposed to be taking care of her dad after his heart attack, not ogling scantily clad firefighters. Especially ones she’d known since grade school.

Well, she’d be done after this shoot. Then she’d spend the rest of her time in Stockton working in her parents’ greenhouse and making sure her dad took his meds and followed a low-cholesterol diet. No time for lusting after her childhood BFF. And slim to no chance of running into him, or anyone else from the so-called glory days of high school. Days she’d just as soon forget.

“Better?” Ivy faced her subject, who had Bilbo in his arms again. The cat’s loud purrs echoed in the almost empty room as Cade rubbed slow circles on his belly.

Oh, yeah. They’d definitely saved the best for last.

“Sorry.” Cade gave her a sheepish grin and her heart flip-flopped. “The little guy was lonely.”

“Sure you don’t want to take him home?”

“No can do. Like I said, dog person.”

She eyed the kitten, sprawled belly-up across Cade’s folded arms, the picture of feline ecstasy with his head back and eyes closed. “Bilbo seems to disagree.”

“He’ll get snapped up in no time. Probably by some nice family with kids who’ll smother him with affection.”

Cade had a point. Puppies and kittens practically flew out of the shelter. It was the full-grown dogs and cats that had a hard time finding a home. She’d adopt one herself if she wasn’t on the road all the time. But Cade...

“How about an older pet? The shelter has lots of them, and they’re harder to place.”

“Maybe someday. Right now I’m too busy with work and...stuff.”

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