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Sleeping With Her Enemy(4)

By:Jenny Holiday

“He collected vintage records,” Amy said, swallowing a giggle and feeling a little guilty for throwing Mason under the bus again. “He would drive a hundred miles out of his way for a nineteen-whatever Otis Redding, but then he wouldn’t listen to it. Not even once. It was like having the object was more important than getting any enjoyment of out it.” Crap. Maybe she’d hit on something there. Mason had thrown himself into wedding planning with an enthusiasm that matched his passion for record collecting. Yet in the end, he hadn’t actually wanted to be married. Not to her, anyway.

“I rest my case,” Dax said. “Even his name—Mason. Really?”

“Oh, and Dax is so much better?” she snapped.

She could see the vein in his temple bulging as it always did when they sparred. But he remained silent. Amy found herself a little disappointed that he wasn’t going to rise to the bait or even acknowledge the barb. “What kind of genius names their kid Dax? It’s the kind of name Gwyneth Paltrow would come up with.”

His head whipped around. “Hey,” he snarled. “Insult me, but leave my mother out of it.”

Oooh, his mother was apparently a sore point. Amy smirked and filed that one away for future reference. She pretty much despised Dax, but he was the perfect person to be with right now. When he’d first suggested—no, insisted—they go out for a drink, she’d thought he was crazy. But now she saw the genius of the plan. She already knew he was an asshole, and he hated her right back, so she could say practically anything to him. She could even tell tales about Mason, because nothing she said would ever get back to Mason—Mason and Dax, though both successful and wealthy, moved in different circles. And there was a certain twisted enjoyment to be had in spending time with someone who didn’t have a clue.

And there was the part where he smelled inexplicably good. She leaned in and took another sniff, not even bothering to be subtle about it.

“How did he propose to you?”

“What?” She shook her head. What did that have to do with anything? And weren’t they back to normal—i.e., fighting?—now that she had insulted his mother?

“Humor me. I just want to know how he proposed.”

She bit the inside of her cheek, debating whether to set herself up for his scorn. Well, why not? She probably couldn’t sink any lower in his estimation. “He didn’t—well, not really. I basically told him last year that I expected him to propose at Christmas. Honestly, I’d gotten tired of waiting.” I was on a schedule. But she didn’t say that part—that sounded stupid now, even to her. “So I just laid down the law. I thought he might do it in front of the tree or something. But then one morning at breakfast the week before Christmas, one day when he was going to do some shopping, he said, ‘Do you want to come with me and pick out a ring?’”

“That was it?”

She didn’t miss the derision in his voice, but she thought maybe it was directed at Mason and his lame proposal and, for once, not at her—which seemed odd because Dax was decidedly not the romantic type. On account of the fact that he was too busy being the jerk type. “Um, yes, I guess that was it.”

“And did you go pick out a ring? At the mall, I suppose?”

She looked down at her hand. All this time, all this drama, and she hadn’t realized she was still wearing the engagement ring. “Oh my God.” She tried to twist it off, but her fingers must have swollen on the hot afternoon because it didn’t budge. “I can’t get it off.” Frantic, she planted her left elbow on the bar and tugged with her right hand but still couldn’t dislodge it. “I have to get this off!” The ring might as well have been around her neck. That little band of platinum was suffocating her as surely as a noose would have.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Dax gently tugged her arm until it lay flat on the bar. He gave her hand a squeeze, and the pressure of his touch was somehow soothing. Her heart slowed a bit. “Want me to try?” She nodded, and he picked up a napkin and blotted her finger on both sides—the condensation from her beer bottle had made her hand a little damp. Then he laid his fingers at the base of her ring finger. His touch was featherlight, but she almost gasped at the contact. The ring started to move. Was he a Jedi master or something? That thing had been good and stuck. Slowly, slowly, he slid it up, pausing slightly to work it over her knuckle. Warmth was pooling in her chest and, embarrassingly—hello, this was Dax!—between her legs. Man, Mason had done a number on her. She had temporarily lost her mind. But probably she could blame the booze. Note to self: never go drinking with Dax again.