She was especially taken with Matt.
Until he said, “It’s time to fess up, hon. Tell Trace how much you care. You’ll feel better when you do.”
Climbing up the ladder, Chris said, “Better sooner than later.” He nodded at the hillside behind them. “Because here comes Trace, and he doesn’t look happy.”
Both Priss and Matt turned, Priss with anticipation, Matt with tempered dread.
Dressed in jeans and a snowy-white T-shirt, Trace stalked down the hill.
Priss shielded her eyes to better see him. When he’d left, being so guarded about his mission, she’d half wondered if he’d return before dinner.
Trace wore reflective sunglasses, so she couldn’t see his eyes, but his entire demeanor—heavy stride, rigid shoulders, tight jaw—bespoke annoyance.
As soon as he was close enough, Priss called out, “What’s wrong?”
Without answering her, Trace continued onto the dock. He didn’t stop until he stood right in front of . . . Matt.
Backing up to the edge of the dock, Matt said, “Uh . . . Hello?”
Trace didn’t say a thing; he just pushed Matt into the water.
Arms and legs flailing out, Matt hit the surface with a cannonball effect.
Stunned, Priss shoved his shoulder. “What the hell, Trace! Why did you do that?”
Trace took off his sunglasses and looked at her, all of her, from her hair to her body and down to her bare toes. After working his jaw a second, he said, “If you need sunscreen, ask me.”
Her mouth fell open. Of all the nerve! He left her at Dare’s, took off without telling her a damn thing and then had the audacity to complain when a friend tried to keep her from getting sunburned. “Maybe I would have, if you’d been here!”
“I’m here now.”
Emotions bubbled over. “So you are.” With a slow smile, Priss put both hands on his chest. The shirt was damp with sweat, the cotton so soft that she could feel every muscle beneath. “And you look a little . . . heated.”
Trace’s beautiful eyes darkened, and he reached for her.
“A dip will cool you down.” Priss shoved him as hard as she could. Taken by surprise, fully dressed, Trace went floundering backward off the end of the dock.
Priss caught a glimpse of the priceless expression of disbelief on Trace’s face before he went under the water.
Excited by the activity, the dogs leaped in after him. Liger roused himself enough to move out of the line of splashing.
Chris climbed up the ladder. “So that’s the new game, huh?” He laughed as he scooped Priss up into his arms.
“Chris!” She made a grab for his shoulders. “Put me down!”
“Afraid not, doll.” Just as Trace resurfaced, Chris jumped in with her. They landed between the swimming dogs.
Sputtering, her hair in her face and her skin chilled from the shock of the cold water, Priss cursed. Trace had already waded toward the shallower water off the side of the dock. His fair hair was flattened to his head and his T-shirt stuck to his body.
“Wait!” Priss shouted at him.
He was still waist-deep as he turned to glare at her.
Kicking and splashing, Priss doggy-paddled over to him, grabbed his shoulders and wrapped her legs around his waist. “Oh, no, you don’t!”
Startled, Trace scooped her bottom in his hands and struggled for balance on the squishy mud bottom of the lake. “What the hell?” And then lower, “You look naked in this damn suit.”
Matt and Chris found that hilarious.
Priss looked at Trace’s handsome face, a face she loved, and kissed him. Hard.
For only a second, he allowed the sensual assault. He even kissed her back. Then he levered away from her. “You ruined my clothes, damn it.”
“Only because you were being a jealous jerk.”
His expression dark, he glared toward Matt.
Christ started humming, but poor Matt said, “Yeah,” and shrugged. “If you think about it, you’ll agree that you sort of were—and we both know there’s no reason.