Marriage Terms(3)

By: Barbara Dunlop

Daniel crouched again, lowering his voice. “What about you, Amanda?” His blue irises flickered with the reflection of the water.

Nope. She wasn’t doing this to herself. She wasn’t getting into a conversation with Daniel about her emotional or mental state.

“I’m definitely alive,” she informed him tartly, then did a surface dive and resumed her swim.

He continued walking along the deck, keeping pace, watching her strokes.

Soon, all she could think about was how far her butt was sticking out of the water and whether or not her suit was riding up.

She paused at the opposite end, swiping her hair away from her eyes.

“Will you be leaving now?” she asked. She wasn’t about to attempt forty-four laps with him sizing up her thighs.

“I want to talk to you about a legal matter,” he said.

“Call my office.”

“We’re family.”

She whooshed away from the edge, creating an eddy around her body. “We’re not family.” Not anymore.

He glanced around. “Do we have to do this here?”

“Hey, you can be wherever you want. I was swimming away, minding my own business.”

He nodded toward the mezzanine floor that overlooked the pool. “Come up and have a drink.”

“Go away.”

“I need your legal advice.”

“You have lawyers on retainer.”

“But this is confidential.”

“I’ve got laps left to swim.”

His eyes focused on her blurred shape beneath the water. “You don’t need them.”

Her heart tripped over a beat. But then she remembered the way glib compliments rolled off his tongue. She turned and stretched into freestyle again.

He followed her to the other end and was standing there when she came up for air.

She sighed in frustration. “You can be a real jerk, you know that?”

“Go ahead and finish. I’ll wait.”

She gritted her teeth. “I don’t think so.”

He grinned and reached out his hand.

Daniel was worried she wouldn’t fall for his ruse. Then he’d have to find another way to lure her into conversation. Because he definitely had a few things left to say.

Over the past few weeks, he’d seen her frantic schedule. He’d overheard the late-night calls. And he’d watched the way her clients took advantage of her.

Her dark eyes narrowed warily, and he moved his hand a little closer, wiggling his fingers in encouragement. He just needed her attention for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. Then she’d be back on track, and he’d get out of her life for good.

Finally, she grimaced and tucked her small, slick hand in his palm. He tried not to be too obvious about his sigh of relief as he gently lifted her from the water.

She straightened on the deck, and he took in her toned limbs and the way her apricot suit clung to her ripe curves. Because she favored casual clothes now—clothes that tended toward loose and baggy—he’d thought maybe she’d gained weight over the years. Not so.

She had a ton of fashion potential. Her figure was gorgeous. Her waist was indented, her stomach smooth and tight, her full breasts rounded against the wet Lycra.

A long-dormant jolt of desire hit his system. He clenched his jaw to tamp it down.

If he alienated her now, she’d bolt. Then she’d spend the rest of her life swimming away her office hours and wandering around midtown Manhattan in khakis, gauzy blouses and clunky sandals.

He cringed at the image.

She might not admit it, but she needed to broaden her professional circles, cultivate prosperous clients and, for the love of God, dress for success.

She extracted her hand from his.

“One drink,” she warned, giving him a don’t-mess-with-me look as she whisked water droplets from her suit.

“One drink,” he agreed gruffly, dragging his gaze from her luscious figure.

She took in his dry trunks, wrinkling her nose. “You didn’t even get wet.”

He cupped her elbow and turned her toward the locker rooms. “That’s because I wasn’t here to swim.”

Her skin was slick and cool, like the tile under his feet. She stopped at the head of the corridor and turned to face him. He could almost see her mind ticking through the situation, formulating arguments.