Sitting next to Peter was driving me berserk, the temptation to look at him too great. He made me lose my place when his finger wandered to my chair and grazed my thigh. I took a deep breath, attempting to ignore the brush of his skin. He crossed his legs at the ankles, his foot wagging back and forth. He stretched his neck and rolled his head forward and to each side, making a cracking sound. He hummed.
Who hums while they’re reading? I stood and tossed my hat onto the chair before lifting my cover-up over my head. I’d taken only a single step when I heard his voice.
“Hey, Katie. Want some company?” Again he didn’t wait for the answer but folded the corner of his page and hopped up from his chair. He smoothed his palm over the bare skin of my hip. “You look amazing.” He eyed me, I’d like to say it was from head to toe, but he seemed to be concentrating on the middlemost parts. “I’m serious.” He took a few more steps and dove in, making the tiniest splash imaginable.
I strode to the wide steps into the pool. With one toe in, it became obvious why Peter and I were the only ones taking a dip. The water was nearly the same temperature as the air, as if it was a lukewarm cup of coffee, not the refreshment I’d hoped for. I waded until I was in to my waist in the shallow end.
Peter was doing handstands in the deep end, his long feet wagging. He could stay up for a good ten seconds before he’d flip over and come back up for air. I swam to the side, folded my arms on the hot concrete and set my chin on my hands. My legs floated near the surface and I closed my eyes, enjoying the gentle lap of the waves Peter was creating from the other end.
There was a splashing sound and I soon felt droplets of water on my back. Peter was next to me, swiping his wet hair from his forehead, his brilliant white smile tugging at me as I placed my feet on the pool bottom again. “So what’s the plan tonight? Stony and I have sound check at four, but we don’t go on until ten. Do you and Gwen want to grab dinner?” He moved closer and trailed his fingers down my spine. “Or we could ditch those two and have dinner alone.” His eyebrows shifted up and down.
I had a fuzzy recollection of the reason Slump was in town—their sold-out show at one of the big rock clubs downtown. “Right. You guys are playing tonight. Gwen and I should probably just go out on our own for dinner. It’s the only night left of our girls’ weekend.”
He held his hand to his brow and scanned my face. “Are you not okay with what happened last night? Because I thought it was spectacular.” He moved his hand to the tender underside of my arm, caressing my skin beneath the water.
I didn’t know what to say and he put me off track every time he touched me. “It was great, but I don’t think dinner or anything else is a good idea.”
“What do you mean, why?” I asked, bristling at his question.
“How can us, together, be a bad idea?” He grinned, confidence oozing from every pore.
“Look, I don’t really do anything beyond one night.”
His eyebrows came together in a pinch. “What?”
“One night. That’s it. It’s pretty self-explanatory.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Why?”
“I just…” I closed my eyes in frustration. This explanation never came out the way it was supposed to. “If I sleep with a man, it’s once and that’s it. Nothing more.”
His eyebrows drew even tighter in confusion. “So even though we had an amazing night together and we get along great, I don’t get to take you out to dinner or sleep with you again? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It does to me.” I wasn’t about to launch into the story behind the rule while I was chest-deep in water with dozens of strangers within earshot. “And you’re in a band. Isn’t that what you guys do? Hook up with women?”
He grumbled and shook his head. “No, that isn’t the only thing we do. No wonder I can’t read you. You’re the most confusing woman I’ve ever met.” He reached into the water and scooped a handful over the top of his head, sweeping his hair back. “You’re lucky I like you so much.” He reached for my hand, his eyes a pale and icy blue in the blazing midday sun. “I think that you should break your rule for me.”
“Give me one good reason.”
“This.” He slid his other hand around the back of my neck, threading his fingers through my hair. His mouth against mine was soft and wet. He pulled back only a few inches and I could feel his breath on my lips. “Seriously, what do I have to do to convince you to break your rule?”
I gnawed on my lower lip. My brain felt as if it had been turned upside-down. With shimmery beads of water along his shoulders and collarbone, he was irresistible. The question only made the situation more disorienting. No man had ever asked me such a thing. The ones who stuck around long enough for the explanation always seemed to take it at face value, willing to walk away after they’d had their shot at me. “I don’t know.”
“Just have dinner with me.”
“I should spend time with Gwen.”
“So have dinner with her and spend the night with me.” He took my hand and raised it to his perfect lips, kissing the back of it lightly. “The whole night.”
My stomach knotted at the thought of breaking the rule that had protected me so well. “I don’t know.”
His thumb rode back and forth over my knuckles. “I think you do know. I think you want to and you just don’t want to say it.”