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Sleeping With Her Enemy(10)

By:Jenny Holiday

“If you want quiet, we have to wait for the ferry to leave.” He pointed to a stretch of grass that abutted the lake twenty or so yards from the dock. “That’s a good spot to sit.”

Without waiting for him, she strode ahead and sank into the cool grass. Dang, it smelled good. She had a lawn at her house. Why didn’t it smell this…grassy? Of course, she never sat on it like this, and she paid a landscaping company to maintain it, so she wasn’t really in a position to know.

“What are you doing?” Dax lowered himself to sit next to her.

“What am I doing what? I’m not doing anything.” The ferry’s walkway began to retract, and she realized she had really, really escaped everyone. That had been the whole point, of course, but she was truly stuck here now—at least until the next ferry. She gave Dax the side-eye. Stuck on an island with a guy she had always considered her office enemy.

“You’re doing this.” Dax started making exaggerated sniffing noises that bordered on snorting. “Do you have a cocaine habit I don’t know about?” He was mocking her. Of course he was. What did she think? That just because they’d made out on the boat, he was going to start being nice to her?

“I was smelling the grass,” she said, opting for the truth. Let him mock her. What did she care? She had nothing to prove to him. It was his turn to give her the side-eye. “It smells delicious,” she added, a touch defensively, as the ferry pulled back from the dock.

He kept inhaling, but he closed his eyes. “It does.” He continued breathing audibly and listed toward her until his face was inches from her own. Then he opened his eyes. Those weird light green eyes pinning her as if he were a superhero capable of immobilizing her. They were so pretty, those eyes. Like pale grass.

It’s possible she was still a little tipsy.

He broke eye contact and leaned even closer, touching the tip of his nose to her neck and heaving another big inhale. “And so do you.”

She wanted to lean toward him and away from him at the same time. “I what?”

“Smell good. Like strawberries.”

Right. “Uh, thanks?”

“I didn’t know they made strawberry perfume.” He sniffed once more and then pulled away. “That is perfume, right? You didn’t do some weird pre-wedding bridezilla thing where you bathed in crushed strawberries?”

She laughed. “No, it’s perfume. I always wear strawberry perfume, but normally only a little. But for the wedding I did scent layering so it’s probably still hanging on.”

“Scent layering?”

She laughed again and waved her hand dismissively. “Scent layering is a weird pre-wedding bridezilla thing. I probably read it in some stupid magazine.”

“So what you’re telling me is that you always smell like this, just not usually as intensely.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Right.” He straightened and scooted a little farther away from her. Maybe he didn’t like strawberries. Maybe he was just being polite when he’d said she smelled good. Maybe, like Mason, he thought strawberry perfume was juvenile.

Dax pointed to the lake. The ferry was halfway back to the mainland. “Okay, now concentrate,” he said. “Notice how oddly quiet it is, even though the city’s right there.”

He flopped onto his back and closed his eyes. It was fully dark now, but there was enough ambient light from the lit-up skyscrapers across the harbor that she could still make out his face. She knew he had laugh lines around his eyes, but in repose his face was unlined. Heavy black eyebrows punctuated his otherwise smooth face, and a lock of black hair fell down his forehead.

He opened one eye and caught her staring. “Are you listening?”

She nodded and, following his example, lay back on the grass. It was, as he’d suggested, silent except for the lapping of water against the shore. There were only a few stars in the sky—though the noise was blocked here, the city light was not. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. Not the trying-to-smell kind that he’d mocked, but a real one. This was a good place. A far cry from the suite at the Shangri-La Hotel suite she was supposed to be spending her wedding night in, but still. She turned her head and sneaked a glance at Dax, who was still lying there unmoving. He was an egotistical ass, but it had been good of him to rescue her. She would have to go home and face up to real life, but for now, she really did feel like she was a place apart. Like she’d escaped.

Escaped what, though? That was the question. The life she’d been so joyously moving toward when she woke up sixteen hours ago, the morning of her wedding day? Everything she’d been planning for, working toward, for the last seven years? Her entire life as she knew it? Perhaps “escape” wasn’t the word so much as was “exile.” She was an outsider in her own life now.