Tempting the Player(10)

By: Kat Latham

Like Lazarus, her insecurity was destined to be resurrected...over and over again. After sitting next to her completely unaffected as she lounged in the bath, he heaped on another insult by laughing at her while their dog wagged her tiny tail at his feet.

They’d been friends for five years, and—other than the weird hair incident—he’d never shown any indication that his feelings were more than friendly. While she had crazy, sexy, impossibly acrobatic dreams about him, he apparently thought it was okay to laugh at her and call her cute.

I’ll show you fucking cute.

She stood up in the bath, water sluicing over her body and bubbles clinging to her pointy bits before dropping to the tub with a plop. She stepped out and briefly turned her back to him, stretching up on her toes to pull her satin bathrobe off its hook. Taking her time, she slipped one arm into it, then the other, before pulling it closed over her wet body. It clung to her curves as she lifted her hands to unclip her hair and let it tumble around her shoulders.

Finally, she turned to fully face him and walked casually into the living room. “Pick something out, then. I’ll just change into my pajamas. Be back in a sec.”

Then she turned and left sopping footprints on the hardwood floors as she went into her bedroom and closed the door.

Damn but she itched to run for her mop and wipe up those footprints. But Matt’s slack-jawed, wide-eyed stare—totally worth warping her floors.

* * *

Libby’s breasts were like... They were like...

God, Matt couldn’t come up with words. They were just like, right there. In front of him and in his head, his memory. Burned there. Forever.

And the rest of her body...damn.

Not that he’d been ignorant of what lay beneath her clothes. Her uniform fit her like it was custom made—for all he knew, it was—and he wasn’t blind. He’d always tried not to imagine what she might look like. Okay, so it happened. Sometimes it happened when he was asleep, and then he either woke up hard and frustrated or sticky and unsettled. Now he knew. Her body was lush and firm at the same time. Curvy in the womanly spots he loved best.

But she was his friend and, even if he didn’t know nearly everything about her—including now the color of her pubic hair when it was dripping wet—she practically screamed I’m husband hunting.

Matt was not husband material. He did not want a romantic relationship. He pushed himself hard at training so he could sprint faster from relationships. He’d been a husband once only to have his marriage explode in his face three years later.

But Libby...

Jesus, why had she done that? He sat down hard on the couch, digging his fingertips into the corners of his eyes until black spots floated across his vision instead of her breasts. Talk about the worst possible timing. Just when he’d thought his life couldn’t tilt further off balance, the one stress-free element yanked the carpet out from under his unsteady feet.

He’d come here tonight because he needed to unwind after his shite-tastic day. Libby always gave him that. Calm and capable, she embodied the qualities he lacked. Being around her never failed to soothe his overactive brain, giving him space for some friendly flirting, a sweet break from overanalyzing the problems with his game and how a career that had started promisingly could crumble so quickly.

Princess yipped and tapped her front paws against his shin, but he left her on the floor. She would just want to curl up on his lap, but all the space there was occupied by his throbbing erection.

The bedroom door stayed closed, so he shifted and pressed his palm against his cock. Damn it. He lived his life in silos. His career required superhuman energy to sort out the mess he’d made of it. Sex—always simple and lacking strings—usually fell into his lap, so to speak. It provided relief without requiring much effort. And Libby was someone fun he could relax with, someone he could easily hide his biggest failings from because she took him at face value. Not that he ever outright lied to her, but he could evade her questions about his career as smoothly as he could sidestep a ten-year-old on the rugby pitch.

If Libby sneaked out of the friend zone and into a fuzzy area that combined sex with emotion, he would end up failing her, hurting her, the same ways he had his ex-wife. And that would devastate him. He’d always managed to hide his attraction to Libby for the greater good of their friendship.

But Libby, wet and naked—

The door opened, and he slid his hand away from his erection, quickly crossing his leg over his knee. Dressed in flannel pajamas that covered every inch of skin but her hands and feet, she came and sat at the far end of the couch, tucking her feet beneath her bum. “So what did you pick?”

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