‘He was available to take care of Jasmine.’
She took a step away from him towards the rocks, taking care to avoid the tideline of broken shells and seaweed that was coarse underfoot. ‘Look, I’d better be getting back.’
‘Not that way.’
She looked at the hand on her arm, feeling a worrying disinclination to break the contact.
‘You can’t get back along the beach at high tide.’ His hand fell away, leaving Angel conscious of the tingling imprint. ‘It is nearly high tide.’
Absently rubbing the spot where his fingers had been, she fought another tide—this time one of rising dismay. Alone on a beach she could have coped—she was resourceful and it appealed to her spirit of adventure—but she wasn’t alone!
‘Another instalment in your dramatic life.’ For a split second he was tempted to say they were trapped, but he stifled the impulse. ‘Relax, there’s a path through the trees.’ He pointed to the pines that lined the beach. ‘Slightly longer, but quite well marked. Come on, I’ll show you.’
Side by side but not touching, they walked towards the tree-shaded area. The pine needles underfoot crunched as they walked beneath the fragrant canopy. In the softer light the bruise on her forehead was much more evident.
‘I think you’ve escaped a black eye.’
‘It’s my shoulder that I’ll feel tomorrow.’ She rotated her shoulder, feeling the stiffness that was bound to get worse before it got better. Her hand went to her head, which she dismissed with a casual, ‘I bruise easily.’ She stopped, her eyes widening as she turned to him, and she grimaced as she realised the implications of his comment. ‘There’s a bruise? You can see it?’
He nodded, picking up the concern in her voice and wondering why she was bothered about something she had previously shrugged off.
‘Terrific!’ Wincing slightly, she traced the slightly raised outline on her temple with her finger. It was not vanity or the pain that gathered her brows into a worried straight line above her tip-tilted nose, but the prospect of what the women in Make-up would say when they saw her, and the horror would likely not be limited to them. The last thing she needed as the new girl was people questioning her professional attitude.
‘It’s not that bad.’
She slung him a gloomy look and continued to walk. ‘It is that bad if you have lights and a camera pointed at your face. There’s only so much even the best make-up and lighting can disguise.’
And even less could she disguise her growing feeling of confusion around him. Life had been simpler before she’d had any insight into the man who had for six years been the focus of her anger. Not a shiny, perfect hero—although he did have a habit of being in the right place to snatch her from the jaws of, if not death, definitely discomfort—but not, it turned out, a serial seducer. He was a man with a family and a history that had left him with his share of emotional scars and even, it seemed, the odd moral value.
Struggling to lift his eyes from the long, sinuous curves of her sleek brown body, his gaze drawn to the tiny slice of paler skin where her bikini bottom had slipped down over the angle of her hip bone, he shrugged.
‘Can they not film around your scenes?’
Angel laughed. She could not imagine that this would be the response from the team when she appeared looking this way. ‘This is an advert, not a blockbuster. I’m in all the scenes and, as they keep telling me, time is money.’
‘No, time is a luxury.’
They had reached the point where the trees thinned and the hotel came into view.
‘A luxury I don’t have.’ She expelled a deep sigh. ‘Ah, well, I’d better face the music.’ She turned to him. ‘I might not have said it. In fact, I know I didn’t, but thank you for fishing me out of the drink. I really am grateful.’
He looked down at her with an odd expression. ‘I do not want your thanks—I want this!’
Without warning, he bent his head and covered her mouth with his. A primitive thrill shot through her and she moaned into his mouth, responding to the hunger of his lips, melting against him as she was carried along on a dizzy tide of raw need. Not fighting it, not questioning, just sinking into all the warm darkness that only he seemed able to tap into and going with it. The relief...the release, it was incredible! She had stopped being the person she tried so hard to be and let herself be the person she was—with him.... Why him?