have an extra youâre welcome to borrow.â
She blinked. âOh. Well, thanks. Thatâs very, um, nice of you. Very neighborly.â
âIâm guessing you meant that as a compliment, but since you sounded so shocked that Iâd do something nice or neighborly, it kinda lost some of its charm.â
âI wasnât shocked.â
Nick couldnât help but grin. God, not only could she not sing, but she was a horrible liar, too. âYes, you were.â
Her lips twitched. âOkay, maybe I was a little shocked.â She hesitated, then said, âIâm dying of thirst. In keeping with this neighborly thing, may I offer you a cold drink?â
He had his own cold drinks at homeâthe place he couldnât wait to return to. To take a shower. To get away from her. Yet when he opened his mouth, the words, âSure, thatâd be great, thanks,â came out.
He watched her dig her key from her beach bag, then followed her to the stairs so he could again check out the two new bottom treads. Yup, heâd done a really good job. He looked up from admiring his handiwork and stilled.
As far as he knew, heâd never been the guy who ogled a woman wearing a short dress as she climbed stairsâuntil right now, when a freakinâ nuclear blast couldnât have unglued his eyeballs from her shapely butt as it swung from side to side with each step.
Damn. He needed more than a cold drink. He needed a damn cold shower.
After she disappeared into the house, he released a breath he hadnât even realized he was holding. Her voice wafted down from behind the screen door, and he found himself cocking his head to better hear her.
âHey, Cupcake, how are you, sweet girl. Did you miss me?â
Apparently Cupcake performed some sort of cat maneuver that indicated she had indeed missed her, because Jamie laughed and said, âI missed you, too. Are you hungry?â
Cupcake let out a meow Nick bet was heard in the next county.
âLetâs see what we have . . . Okay, would you prefer the tender turkey Tuscany with long-grain rice and garden greens, or the wild salmon primavera with garden veggies?â
Nick rolled his eyes. Sheesh. No wonder cats were so prissy.
âHere you go, baby,â Jamie crooned. âIâm going to bring a drink to that pest Nick, then Iâll be back. And you can tell me all about your day.â The screen door opened and she stepped outside, carrying two bottles of water. And halted when she saw him standing at the bottom of the stairs. Nick liked that she wasnât wearing sunglasses and he wasâdefinitely put him at an advantage as she couldnât see his eyes, which he knew held a combination of irritation, amusement, and worst of all, an avid interest in watching her descend the steps.
He settled one booted foot on the bottom tread, then braced his palms on the banisters. â âThat pest Nickâ ?â he repeated, looking up at her. âAnd here I thought we were being all nice and neighborly.â
Her cheeks turned bright red. By God, that absolutely fascinated him. Made him want to tease and embarrass her for three days straight just so he could see that wash of brilliant color stain her skin.
She hoisted her chin up a notch. âEavesdroppers never hear good of themselves.â
âI wasnât eavesdropping. I was standing.â
âListening to me talk to Cupcake.â
âHow was I supposed to know you were going to chat with your cat?â
She started down the stairs and his attention was riveted on the way the hem of that short orange dress flirted with her thighs. The next thing he knew she was standing on the next to the last step, there was less than two feet separating them, and his eyes were on the same level as her chest.
And speaking of chests, she slapped an ice cold plastic water bottle against his. âHereâs your drink.â
He lifted one hand from the