Tempting the Player(9)

By: Kat Latham

His lips pressed together so hard they nearly disappeared, and he made a funny noise, like smothered laughter.


“Nothing. Anyway, I already knew. I saw it on your to-do list on the table—along with the fact that you had a date last night. Do you always put your dates on a checklist?”

“Only when they feel like a chore.”

“They wouldn’t feel like that if you stopped dating prats.”

“I don’t date prats!”

He squinted an eye at her, clearly thinking That’s bollocks and you know it. “You must not’ve been too excited if you did your hedge-trimming the day after.”

“Maybe I just wanted to make sure he liked me for my personality, not my naked orbital ridge.”

“Your orbital ridge? Saucy wench.”

“It’s the eyebrow bone, stud.” She blew a handful of bubbles at him, making him laugh as he swiped them off his thigh.

He raised his brows and glanced toward her crotch. “Got cream anywhere else?”

Adopting a haughty tone, she said, “That’s my secret.”

His grin died down to something a little less playful, a little harder to interpret. His fingers seemed to unconsciously find the contusion on his cheek.

“What about you?” she asked. “You all right? Looks like it was a tough match.”

“What, this?” He tapped the bruise and she nodded. “Bloody awful. They humped us in the last minute.”

“Ah well, at least you got something out of it, then.”

His sexy lips turned upward. Oh, Lord. Had someone cranked the heat up in the tub? Don’t kiss him, don’t kiss him.

“I’m a bit wound up,” he said. “Thought maybe we could watch a film or something.”

Her heart picked up its pace. Why did she get so pathetically happy when he sought her out? There was something so flattering about his attention, but he never made her feel like she should be grateful for it. Easy and fun, that was Matt. “Film sounds good. Why don’t you pick something out while I finish up in here?”

He pushed himself up and gave her another funny look.

She touched her brows. “Did I miss a spot?”

“No.” He seemed on the verge of saying something else but then gave his head a small shake and left the bathroom. Libby drew in her first steady breath of the past five minutes. Something wasn’t quite right here. Matt often seemed keyed up after matches, especially away matches for some reason. It must be tough to focus all that energy and adrenaline into a couple of hours, only to lose.

Whatever was going on with him, she was happy to be the one he came to, to unwind—even if it was by sitting on her couch instead of getting naked and sweaty together.

Through the open door, she saw him turn on her TV, pull up her film service and flick through it. He called over to her. “Drama?”

She thought about it for a second before dismissing it. “I’m not really in the mood for anything dark or serious.”

“Me neither. Action?”

“Oh, I saved Castaway. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard good things.”

Matt read the description. “Tom Hanks survives a plane crash? Fuck no.”

“You’d rather he died?”

“No, I just...” He shivered hard and hit the button to go back to the film listings. “Sounds too serious. What about a rom-com?”

“No way.” Watching a rom-com with Matt would be acute torture.

He gave her a teasing smile. “You never want to watch rom-coms with me. Why is that?”

She would’ve thought it was obvious. Thank God it wasn’t. “Too schmaltzy.” He didn’t look away. Her whole body warmed under the weight of his attention. “What?”

He shook his head. “Nothing. Why don’t I choose something? You’ll fall asleep after the opening credits anyway.”

“I will not.”

“Mmm-hmm. What happens at the end of Psycho?”

Damn it. They’d watched that film together twice, and she hadn’t lasted fifteen minutes either time. But at least she’d seen a famous clip of the film several times. “Janet Leigh’s killed in the shower.”

“At the end?”

“Yeah. Isn’t that—what? Why are you laughing?”

He swiped his hand over his mouth, but his eyes still laughed at her. “God, you’re cute.”

The words shot arrows at her vulnerable heart. She tried to shove them from her mind, but they took root alongside a half dozen other comments he’d made over the years. On his first wedding anniversary after his divorce, for example, when he’d spent the evening drinking and told Libby he loved her hair. He’d asked if he could touch it and she’d let him, wondering the whole time whether she should breach the distance and kiss him. But as he rubbed her corkscrew curls between his fingertips, he’d compared her curls to his ex-wife’s stick-straight hair, and Libby’s desire had withered and died.