“I asked you to give me a chance, and you doubted my sincerity. Let me prove it.”
“What, are you scared to have me around in case I prove you wrong?” He folded his arms over his chest, his eyes brimming with a challenge that dried her mouth.
“Is that why you’ve been at the hotel more recently, and you call me every night? Are you trying to make me like you again?”
He grinned. “You always liked me—you just need to trust me.”
“Why make so much effort?”
“Because some things are worth the risk,” he said softly, his lips dropping.
Holly walked over to the corner of the room, knelt down, and picked up a paintbrush. She made her way back, handed it to him, and tried to ignore the rise of his satisfied grin.
“This doesn’t change anything,” she said after clearing her throat. “You’re here for the baby’s benefit, nothing more.”
“Sure,” he said with a brighter grin. And she could have sworn that grin got broader as she walked out the door.
When she returned, wearing her painting sweatpants and oversized t-shirt, there was a flip in her belly that had nothing to do with the baby. Eyes wide, she took in the sight of a bare-chested Max hunched down on the now tarp-covered floor, biceps working as he swept a brush into the corner of the wall like he was caressing a lover—focused, intent, and with accurate precision. He wielded his brush like a fingertip.
“What are you doing?” she asked with a dry mouth.
He turned and stood, looking at her with a raised brow. “Painting. That was what you wanted me to do, wasn’t it?”
“Well, yes. But I wasn’t asking you to do it naked.”
“Naked.” He cast a glance downward. “I’m not exactly naked, am I?”
No, he wasn’t, but the impact was very much the same. And why did her eyes keep dropping longingly to his pecs, her gaze drifting slowly over his abs? He had a body that didn’t belong behind a desk. It belonged in her bed, she thought with a sigh.
“Is my naked chest bothering you?”
If by ‘bothered’ he meant aching nipples and a stirring in the panty area, then yes. “No, I was surprised, that’s all.”
“Much easier to wash paint off my body than my suit, don’t you think? Unless you still have my old t-shirt here?”
“But your trousers will be ruined anyway. And no, I don’t have your t-shirt, I tossed it.”
His faltering smile almost made her regret the lie. His t-shirt was safely tucked away from paint splatters.
He quickly recovered. “Are you saying I should remove these too? I can paint in my boxers if you prefer?”
She narrowed her eyes with suspicion. Was he trying to tease her with his naked man flesh? If so, it wasn’t going to work. Not entirely. “No, I wouldn’t prefer that at all. I’m surprised to see you paint in anything.”
“You expected naked?” He grinned.
Hope you enjoyed it!