He still didn’t have his shirt on, and he made her think of a particularly sexy pirate. How embarrassing that she couldn’t stop staring at his chest; her eyes were welded there.
‘I’m fine,’ she croaked, thinking this comment had rarely in her life been less true.
‘You’re working on the theory that if you say it more than once it makes it so.’ He didn’t sound amused; he sounded exasperated.
‘It is so.’ Teeth pressing into the pink softness of her full lower lip, she finally managed to drag her eyes upwards and discovered that he wasn’t looking impatient or even angry. He was looking worried and concerned, and instead of being mollified by the discovery she was thrown into an instant state of heart-pounding confusion. With Alex it seemed a condition she spent about ninety per cent of her time in.
From the tangled muddle of emotions lodged like a heavy stone in her chest, anger and resentment dissolved. Without them she felt oddly defenceless; she didn’t know how to deal with his concern. Who are you kidding, Angel? You don’t know how to deal with him full stop! The man was the father of her child and he was a total stranger—a pulse-racingly disturbing total stranger.
Well, one solution would be to get to know him, she thought. He’s right here. Stop snarling and start talking. Was picking fights with him a way that she had subconsciously adopted to delay the moment she told him about Jasmine? She tried to push the idea away but it lingered...as did the scent of his soap in her nostrils.
‘I really am all right. I was just escaping the fuss.... How about the boy?’
‘He doesn’t seem any the worse for the experience,’ Alex commented drily. ‘He was posing for photos when I left.... What’s wrong?’
She expelled an exasperated sigh of surrender and snapped. ‘My head hurts. It’s nothing.’ Compared to last night it was true. She turned her head, giving a little grunt of relief when she saw that the skin on her shoulder was not broken. It was sore, though.
Growing irritation made his jaw clench again. She had managed to make it sound as if it were his fault.
‘Let me see.’
She turned her head away. ‘No, I didn’t hit it. I just have a headache.’
‘Headaches don’t leave bruises.’ His long brown fingers, their touch delicate but firm, pushed aside the saturated strands of hair from her forehead, causing her eyes to fly wide and green to his face, the frantic fluttering sensation that began in the pit of her stomach and spread hot and dangerously fast making her pull away while she could.
The subsequent jolt caused her bruised shoulder to ache.
‘Leave me alone.’
The words mocked Alex even as her belligerent emerald eyes taunted him.
Leave her alone!
That’s your problem, Alex thought grimly. You can’t.
Six years ago he hadn’t been able to and he still couldn’t. From the moment he had seen her he had wanted her and that hunger had not decreased. If anything it had grown and it didn’t matter how aggravating, how sheer bloody minded she was, no negative was negative enough to make him any less hot for her.
Around this woman his self-control was zero. Even the fact she had just been involved in an accident didn’t save her from his lust. No, lust he could cope with, but this ability she had to draw emotional responses from him was something he was not willing to recognise, let alone deal with.
‘You’re bloody lucky all you have is a headache!’
The fresh blast of disapproval hurt but at least it enabled her to throw off the weird feeling of vulnerability.
‘Do you have to yell?’ She framed a pained furrow between her darkly defined brows. ‘I’m not deaf.’ Or needy, she reminded herself.
His jaw tightened and the memory of her putting herself between the blades of the Jet Ski and the child resurfaced to increase his rage. ‘Do you ever think about the consequences of your actions?’
It was the consequences of both their actions that she had been living with for six years. ‘I accept them,’ she told him quietly. ‘How about you?’ Well, she was going to find out the answer to that one very soon.
He ignored the wry interjection and barely registered her sudden look of panic. ‘We are not talking about me. I’m talking about your publicity-seeking stunt.’
Her temper fizzed. ‘A stunt! You think I arranged that?’
Alex didn’t, but the thought had flashed through his mind. ‘No, I don’t think you’ve got the brains....’ he admitted, an edge of weariness entering his voice as he added, ‘Do you ever think before you leap or jump?’