The cruise is going to be the trip of a lifetime for Evie Hines. At least that’s what her friends say when they drag her on board for a birthday celebration. Evie expects to get seasick. She doesn’t expect to run into her high school football coach who looks better than ever and still makes her heart skip a beat.Richard Diaz is keeping his newly divorced sister and her sons company on the cruise. Running into Evie Hines is a surprise he didn’t see coming. The watergirl with the most adorable blush in school is all grown up, and her bronzed skin, tiny bathing suit and bold, new demeanor become an irresistible temptation.No matter how much he resolves to stay away, her determination to forget the past and have fun in the present battles against his self-control. She is looking for a vacation fling with the man of her dreams. He’d rather jump overboard than break her heart. Is it possible to throw caution to the wind and give in to their lust or will they both walk away with regrets?
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After two more previews, the movie started. Evie sat up to check on Lisa and Ann-Marie. Their eyes were glued to the screen. She leaned back again and looked at an alien talking about invading earth. Classic.
The story line was predictable. Ten minutes in, Evie knew how the movie would end. Another ten minutes later, Carrie dozed off. Evie shook her head smiling. She’d tell her the outcome of the movie in the morning.
Not much later, the two people sitting to Evie’s right got up and left. She didn’t blame them. The movie was crap. She considered leaving too, but she did still have the popcorn and Carrie was sleeping peacefully. An hour under the stars wouldn’t hurt anything.
A little while later, someone took up the seat at the end and she realized it was the coach. He nodded in greeting, got up from his chair and moved over to the empty one beside her.
She tried to ignore her nerves. “Hi coach.”
“You can call me Richard, you know.”
She felt herself blush and thanked the night for concealing her color.
“What’s playing?” he asked.
She turned to look up at the screen. “I don’t know the title, but it’s got superheroes.”
“Any good?” He grabbed the unused blanket and spread it out over him.
“Not at all.” When he was settled, she held out the popcorn bag. “Want some?”
“Thanks,” he said, grabbing a handful.
She set the bag close to the edge of her chair so he could easily reach for it.
“The movie put your friend to sleep?” he asked.
Evie nodded. “Don’t get your hopes up; it might put you to sleep too.”
The corners of his lips turned up. “I don’t think I’ll be sleeping anytime soon.”
Evie’s mind began to race. Neither would she. Shoot, she doubted she’d sleep a wink all night. She’d thought about him all day, and now he was getting comfortable beside her.
Ann-Marie had been right. Evie was running into him all the time. And damn it, she was still getting flustered like a silly girl. By now she should get over it, should be used to seeing him and not turn the color of the local lobsters. It was maddening that he still managed to turn her into a foolish thing.
They turned to watch the movie and she paid close attention to the timing of his hand reaching for the popcorn bag. She wouldn’t get caught reaching for it at the same time, not because it was corny, but because touching him would make her jump out of her chair. It’d been bad enough seeing him at the pool and on the beach when she’d barely been dressed, but actually coming in contact with him would be madness.
Music blasted out of the speakers as the superhero chased the villain through some alien world. Evie had lost track of the story a while ago, although she was still convinced of the end.
Richard reached for the popcorn while she kept her hands to herself.
“Isn’t this just the best thing you’ve ever seen?” he joked.
“Absolutely,” she answered, trying to wrap the blanket closer around her. The temperature had dropped and she hadn’t brought a sweater.
He grabbed the bag of popcorn so it wouldn’t topple over as she adjusted the blanket. When she stopped moving, he held out the bag again. She reached for it and her hands brushed across his.
“You’re freezing,” he said with a frown.
She set the bag down, noticing that there was barely any popcorn left. “It’s colder than I thought,” she said. “I should’ve brought a jacket.”
He pressed his lips together as he looked down at himself. “I don’t have one to give you either. I took mine back to the room after dinner.”
Putting on his jacket would have made her uncomfortable anyway. It would have been warm and inviting, and would have probably smelled like him.
“That’s okay, thanks though.”
“Scoot closer,” he instructed.
For a moment, she thought she hadn’t heard right. “What?”
“The blankets are big enough to cover two people,” he said, dragging her chair next to his.
“What are you doing?” she asked alarmed.
The person in the front row stuck his head between the chairs to shush them.
Evie apologized and turned to look at Richard. He was only a foot or two away. She leaned back to put some distance between them.
“We’ll put our blankets together,” he explained, lifting her blanket to cover him, after which he adjusted his blanket over her.
“There.” He patted down the blankets. “That should keep you warm.”
Evie looked at him as though he’d lost his mind. That should keep her warm? Being bundled up under a blanket with him? She almost erupted into hysterical laughter. She’d be warm alright. In all the wrong places.
He leaned back in his seat and turned his head to look at her. “What’s wrong?”
She paused, not knowing where to begin. “This isn’t a good idea.”
“Keeping you warm?”
She pursed her lips as if he knew exactly what she meant. “This isn’t right,” she clarified. “You’re the coach and—”
“I’m a coach, not your coach, Evie.”
“I know you’re not mine,” she shot back, then paused as the words hit her.
They were shushed again.
She had no choice but to lean forward to whisper. “I know you’re not my coach.”
His eyes locked with hers. “So then, what’s the problem? We’re no longer in school. We’re simply two people watching a movie together while trying to stay warm.”
That was the understatement of the century. “I don’t think,” she started to say, but wasn’t sure what kind of argument to make. She didn’t think what? That she could keep her hands to herself? That she could keep from jumping onto his lap in front of the whole damn audience? She took a steadying breath.
“Fine,” she huffed and leaned back in her chair.
He didn’t say anything else and neither did she. It was impossible to focus on the movie and she might as well have been watching monkeys bash each other’s brains out. She was aware of nothing but the coach’s body heat enveloping her in sinful warmth. Her skin now felt warm to the touch and she tingled from something other than the cold.
The popcorn bag was sitting out of reach on the small table to his right and she wished for it to be back on her chair, creating a barrier between them. There were no armrests or anything else blocking the space. She could reach out and touch him if she wanted to. Not that she was going to.
He shifted to the left and his knee grazed her. She thought her heart would leap right out of her chest.
“Coach,” she said.
She let out a frustrated breath and turned to face him. “Coach, I—”
“It’s Richard, Evie.” His whisper caressed her cheek.
Now they were indecently close. Even he couldn’t deny it. He didn’t pull back, and for some reason, neither did she.
“Richard,” she repeated, and the name felt strange to say. So familiar and intimate. She’d always just called him coach.
“I think we should push the chairs apart.” She stared into his shadowed eyes. It was dark, but she could still make out every feature on his face. She knew every curve, every line, every angle.
She licked her lips. Why indeed? She couldn’t think of a reasonable answer to give him without sounding stupid. If she told him she was uncomfortable sitting this close, he’d know just what effect he still had on her. She didn’t want him to think she’d never outgrown her school crush.
“I don’t know,” she mumbled confused.
His eyes ran over her face. “You’re staying right here. I don’t want you getting cold.”
She couldn’t tear her gaze away from him. If she’d lean forward just a bit, she’d be able to touch her lips to his. What would he do?
“I can take care of myself,” she heard herself whisper.
“I’m glad you can,” he said and smiled.
Her heart skipped a beat. That smile would be her undoing.
“Regardless, even grown women need some looking after,” he said, and his head moved closer.
She felt the vibrations of his voice run over her.
“You should try it sometime.”
Her brows came down in confusion. “Try what?”
“Let someone take care of you.”
For once she didn’t feel herself blush, but instead, all sorts of things caused havoc inside her. Was he flirting with her? If she thought he was even remotely interested in her, there’d be no going back.
“I don’t have anyone to do that for me,” she replied.
He stared at her lips before raising his gaze. “You do right now.”