Getting trapped with her enemy is no vacation.

Nate-the-brainiac has always made Suzie feel stupid.

So what if he’s a successful squillionaire and hot-damn gorgeous? He’s the last person she wants to get stuck on a yacht with.

Especially not in the most romantic place on Earth.

And the way Nate’s acting, you’d think Suzie was the one who ruined his life, not the other way around.

Maybe she’s no genius, but she knows one thing for sure. She’s definitely not dumb enough to fall for him.

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Chapter One

Nate Mason listened to the figure being offered. It was a lot of money. A shit-load, in fact. Shame he wasn’t tempted.

“Did you hear me, Nate? They want to give us fifty-five million dollars!” His business partner’s voice rose to such an excited pitch, Nate winced and pulled the phone away from his ear. Neither of them had expected such a high offer for their self-drive software. It was the kind of profit nobody in their right mind would turn down.

Nate supposed that made him officially crazy.

“Screw it.” Nate made his final decision as he said the words. “I don’t want to sell.”

Tristan made a strangled sound on the other end of the line. “Excuse me? You’re not seriously suggesting we say no to that much money?”

Nate glanced behind him. The sun was setting over the white sand beach and the crowd of wedding guests were silhouetted against its rays. He’d only arrived on Lantana Island a couple of hours ago. After showering and changing, he’d barely made it to the beach in time for the ceremony, and had ducked away right after it to make some calls. But the formal dinner would be starting any minute.

“I need to get back to the wedding,” he said. “We can talk about it tomorrow.”

“I’m holding a contract and all it needs is your signature. Come on, Nate. We can’t possibly turn it down.”

“Why not?”

“Please tell me you’re joking.” The faint sound of shoes clomping on wooden floors came through the line, as though Tristan had started pacing. “We’ve been pouring money into it for three years and I’m all but broke. It’s time to sell.”

Although Tristan couldn’t see him, Nate found himself shaking his head. “It’s too early to sell. Once we hand over our software, they’ll mess it up. Remember what happened when we sold Journeyman?”

“I remember all the money we made,” said Tristan. “Besides, we can’t afford to take this any further. Creating a car prototype is going to cost a fortune.”
“There might be a way to fund it ourselves.” Nate glanced over the water, to the yacht moored in Lantana Island’s sheltered bay. “What if we put our system into boats?”

“Boats?” Tristan sounded like he was being strangled. “What are you talking about?”

“We could adapt our software to fit into an existing autopilot system,” he repeated slowly, working it through in his head as he spoke. “It wouldn’t be hard, and a lot cheaper than developing a car prototype. If we diversify now, it gives us more options. We could sell it as a different system entirely—”

“You’re not talking about making a whole new product? That would take far too long and cost far too much.”

Nate narrowed his eyes, squinting against the sun to make out the details of the yacht. It was a decent size, and probably had a radar, auto-pilot, and navigation system. Its name was Lady of Lantana, so it had to belong to the resort’s owner and could be available for rent.

“I’ll bet I could get a yacht steering itself in just three days,” he said.

“Three days? No way.”

“And if I can? Will you tear up that contract?”

“You’re serious?” Tristan sucked in a loud breath. “But Nate, it’s fifty-five million dollars.” At least his partner didn’t sound quite so convinced now.

Nate glanced over his shoulder again. The wedding guests were moving towards the dining tables on the sand. “I have to go.”

“But—“

“I’ll call you in the morning, Tristan. First thing, I promise.” Nate hung up, stuck his phone in his pocket and loosened the tie he hardly ever wore. It was too hot for ties and he had sand in his shoes. If it had been his wedding, he’d have made it less formal. He caught himself, and shook his head, bemused. Where had that thought come from? He wasn’t interested in risking a relationship, so he hardly needed to plan what kind of wedding he’d have.

Nate spotted Dalton, the resort owner, walking across the sand toward the resort’s restaurant, and moved to intercept him. After outlining his plan and assuring the man he’d had plenty of boating experience and wouldn’t damage the yacht’s systems, he arranged to rent the Lady of Lantana for a small fee. Three days was a tight time-frame so he’d need to start first thing in the morning.

The deal done, Nate knew he should go and congratulate Laura and Luke, the happy couple. Instead, he stood on the edge of the crowd of guests, searching for the one woman he didn’t want to see.

He almost hadn’t come to the wedding at all. But so far there’d been no sign of Suzie’s short brown hair.

Good.

Maybe Suzie and Laura had fallen out, so she hadn’t come? Or maybe Suzie hadn’t been able to take time away from work? Nate did one more scan of the crowd, then let his shoulders relax. Many of the wedding guests had already found their seats at the dining tables on the sand, but Suzie wasn’t among them. Strange for the bride’s sister not to be here, but her absence would make his short stay on the island easier.

Nate headed towards the blackboard where the seating plan was displayed. If Suzie were here somewhere, he’d be able to find her name on the plan.

As he neared the board on its easel, he saw a woman also walking towards it. She wore a gold dress and had bangles up each arm that jangled with every step. She was a little in front of him, so he couldn’t see her face, but her long, curly hair tumbled almost to her waist. It was obviously dyed, because a red that bright could only have come out of a bottle. She hadn’t bothered with shoes and was barefoot on the sand, her painted toenails even brighter than her hair. A hippy-dippy type, obviously. Nobody he’d be interested in.

But when she turned her head to the side, his heart somersaulted. She had luminous skin that glowed in the sunset and there was something about the shape of her eyes that made it seem like they had a smile behind them, even when she reached the board and frowned as she studied it.

Suzie.

Her hair was completely different, but one thing hadn’t changed: she was still more beautiful than she deserved to be. And her figure had become even more curvaceous and desirable, if that were possible.

Nate swore under his breath. He’d been dreading seeing her, but had convinced himself if he did, he’d feel nothing but disdain. This time she wouldn’t make his heart speed up or his palms perspire. This time, the only thing she’d be able to make him feel would be righteous annoyance.

He wiped his palms on his pants, then took a breath, trying to slow the beating in his chest.

Damn her.

After all these years, he’d counted on finally being free from the curse of his attraction to her. How could she still have this effect on him? He knew she was bad news, but somehow the message hadn’t gotten through to every part of him. She was his own personal Kyrptonite, and the last thing he needed was to have her embedded in his mind for another ten years, permeating his thoughts and dreams.

He clenched his jaw. Over his dead body. However she’d managed to sink her claws into him, it was going to end tonight. All he had to do was talk to her, and the memories of how much he’d hated her would come flooding back. And this time he’d make sure every cell in his body was paying attention.

Chapter Two

Suzie should have known her sister’s wedding guests would be a bunch of hopeless nerds. Many were Laura’s ex-colleagues from the university’s math department.

She tried to resist glaring at her sister, who’d just finished up with her wedding photos and was gazing adoringly into her new husband’s eyes. Luke was definitely the hunkiest man here, and not only was he hot, but he had a generous helping of bad-boy charm. Suzie loved her sister, and was happy for her, but couldn’t she also be a teeny bit jealous?

Some of Luke’s friends were cute, but they were here with their wives or girlfriends. Where were all Luke’s single buddies?

Sighing, she scanned the crowd, barely looking at the board where the seating plan was pinned up. She’d been on this absurdly romantic Fijian island for five days and as much as she’d enjoyed lazing around the white sand beach and snorkeling the crystal water, it would have been nice to indulge in a little holiday romance. But not when the only choices were geeks who knew more about calculating the radius of a curve than running their hands over one.

Well, too late now. She had to leave tomorrow to cater her first wedding on her own. At least this break had been an opportunity to give herself a pep talk and convince herself she wasn’t going to mess it up.

When Suzie’s gaze turned to the seating plan, horror slowly dawned. Instead of just printing everyone’s names, Laura had made up a puzzle for each person, so you had to work out the equation to see where you were sitting. Laura’s version of fun was Suzie’s worst nightmare. Would she be the only guest too dumb to figure out where she was sitting?

Staring at the numbers, Suzie fought back a groan. Being the dunce of the family had been bad enough when Suzie was growing up. The last thing she needed was a reminder of her shortcomings before heading home to tackle a big challenge. Just her luck, she’d need the formula explained to her, then she’d end up sitting next to one of her sister’s brainiac buddies who’d treat her like she needed to be taught how to use a fork.

Suzie caught a whiff of delicious cologne. A man was standing behind her studying the board over her shoulder, and boy, did he smell good. She turned slowly, making the movement casual. Tall. Broad shoulders. Square jaw. Hair so dark it was almost black, razor short on the sides and long enough on top to have the perfect touch of artful scruffiness. Holy mother of dragons, this guy was way too good looking, he had to be married. Her eyes dropped, searching for a ring and not finding one. Could her luck have finally changed?

He turned gorgeous brown eyes on her and her knees went weak. Wowser. Now that was a face she could imagine waking up next to.

“Hi.” She gave him the most alluring smile she could manage when he’d already sucked the breath out of her lungs.

His eyes narrowed and he didn’t smile back. “You don’t recognize me, do you?”

She stared at him, shocked. No way could she have met a man this hot before and not remembered him. So why he was looking at her like she’d done bad things to him, and not in a fun way?

“Ah…” She gulped. “Maybe you’ve mistaken me for someone else?”

The look he gave her could only be described as a glare. “Shall I give you a clue, Suzie? We were at school together, and my parents used to own the store on the corner of your street.”

She frowned, thinking back to when she was a teenager. “No, you can’t be…?”

Her mind was racing. Was he really Harrison, the boy who’d worked behind the counter? She’d had a crush on him and finally worked up the courage to ask him out. On the night that was supposed to be their first date he’d never turned up to collect her, and when she’d stormed up to him the next day, confused and angry, he’d said some awful things.

Although she remembered Harrison being cute, he sure didn’t look anywhere near this good back then. He’d had a shaved head, six studs in his ear, and three in his lip. She’d wondered how she’d kiss him with all that hardware in the way.

No, this man didn’t look like Harrison. Different mouth shape. Different eyes.

Suzie’s blood went cold. Could it be Harrison’s kid brother?

Milhouse?” she breathed.

“Thank you for giving me that nickname.” His voice was soaked in sarcasm. “Do you even know my real name?”

She swallowed. What on earth was his real name? He’d always been Milhouse to her. “You don’t wear glasses anymore,” she said, stalling.

“I had laser surgery.”

Suddenly her memories were flooding back. Milhouse had been the nerdiest of the nerds. A friend of Laura’s because they’d been in all the advanced classes together, and the math and science clubs. He’d always made her feel stupid, the way he talked to Laura about things she had no hope of understanding, though she was a year older than them both.

She’d hated him. Hated the way he used to compete with Laura to be top of every class. His arrogant swagger when he collected his endless awards. And worst of all, the way he’d made up a lie about her that had taken her years to live down.

“How dare you?” She clenched her fists. Oh yes, it was all coming back to her what an asshole he was. “What did I ever do to you?”

“You called me Milhouse, for a start.”

Yeah, well, he’d looked like Milhouse, Bart’s geeky friend on The Simpsons. Now he was a six-foot hottie in a designer suit. Who the hell could have seen that coming?

She drew herself up as tall as she could manage. “Harrison told me he didn’t want to go out with me because I’d offered to have sex with you if you’d write my term paper. He didn’t believe me when I denied it and the next thing I knew, everyone at school was talking about it. Where do you think he might have got an idea like that?” Her face was getting warm, and no doubt flushing bright red. “You lied about me, and everyone believed you.”

“It was payback.” His square jaw tightened. “That thug you used to go out with stole from my parents’ store. When I tried to stop him he broke my collarbone.”
Suzie’s greatest superpower was her ability to attract losers, and dating thugs was a particular specialty. But she knew which one Milhouse was talking about. It could only be Troy, the boy she’d broken up with before she’d gathered her courage to ask Harrison out.

She folded her arms defiantly. “You can’t blame me for what Troy did.”

Milhouse folded his arms as well, matching her stance. “He stole cigarettes.” His lip curled with disdain. “Menthol cigarettes. The brand you smoked.”

Suzie swallowed down a hard lump of guilt. Troy had given her several cartons, and she’d smoked them without asking where he’d got them. She’d been a blind, infatuated fool, but she’d never meant to hurt anyone. Besides, his ‘payback’ had made her life hell.

“So you took revenge on me instead of Troy?”

He shrugged. “I figured Captain Fingerpaint was on a collision course with a jail cell anyway. His IQ was so low, you’d have to dig for it.”

Great. Her boyfriend had been dumb, so what did that make her? She glared at Milhouse, but he ignored her rage, instead stepping forward so he could study the seating plan.

It brought him close, and she was suddenly all too aware of his body. His white shirt clung to his muscled frame, hinting that he’d somehow developed a delicious bad-boy physique. And what was with that too-delicious cologne?

Her blood pulsed harder, and her heart stuttered. But what she was feeling couldn’t be arousal. No, there had to be a breeze sending shivers over her skin. He might be sickeningly handsome now, but all the window dressing in the world couldn’t disguise the fact that he was still the despicable nerd she’d hated.

“You’re sitting there.” Milhouse pointed at the board. “And I’m sitting—” He broke off, his eyes narrowing.

Crap. It had taken him all of two seconds to work out the formula. Worse, he had to have known she wouldn’t be smart enough. Suzie flushed. She felt like she’d just failed high school all over again.

“Oh good!” The happy exclamation came from behind them, and Suzie glanced around at Laura, who was standing close, smiling at them both. “I’m glad you two are getting reacquainted. I’m sure you’ve already worked out where you’re sitting? You’re together, over there.” She pointed to a nearby table. “We’ll have some speeches first, then dinner, so go and make yourselves comfortable.”

Suzie clenched her teeth. Laura had seated her with Milhouse? Perfect. That probably meant he was the only single guy here and Suzie’s sister thought she was doing her a favor. Laura was a genius, except when it came to people. If she remembered that hateful rumor from their school days, she’d no doubt forgotten Milhouse had started it.

Laura was already turning away to talk to someone else. Suzie shot Milhouse one last look of hatred before she spun on her heel and headed for the bar. She needed another drink before she had to sit down and endure an entire dinner with him.

“I’ll have the strongest cocktail you have,” she told the bartender.

From the corner of her eye, she watched Milhouse stride to the table Laura had pointed them to and tug out a chair like he wanted to break it into kindling. Another shiver ran over her skin and with a shock she realized her nipples were hard. No, she hated him! She refused to let her body react to him. But he moved with such effortless, animal grace, she couldn’t stop herself from imagining what those hands might feel like if he put them on her.

Chapter Three

Nate tried to ignore Suzie while the wedding speeches were going on, but sitting next to her was torture. Each time they were asked to toast the happy couple, he glared as she gulped her ridiculous cocktail. It was even brighter than her hair, bristling with too many straws and umbrellas. When it was reduced to nothing but a few half-melted ice cubes, Suzie ordered a big glass of wine and made a show of knocking that back as well.

No doubt Suzie wasn’t listening to the wedding speeches at all, but stewing over the single lie Nate had told. He had much more to be angry about. She hadn’t recognized him. Hadn’t known he was the kid who’d been hit with an iron bar when she’d sent her thug of a boyfriend after cigarettes.

But all that was in the past. He didn’t need to think about it, because he was completely over it. And the fact she’d been permanently burned into his memory when she didn’t even know his real name? No, he wasn’t upset about that either.

Nate realized he was grinding his teeth and made a point of relaxing his jaw. If only the perfume she was wearing didn’t keep wafting over and stirring something inside him he couldn’t quite control. He shifted in his seat and she shot him a sideways glare, her eyes narrow slits and her expression dark. Bring it on, Suzie. He needed more looks like that to get through to the part of him that hadn’t got the memo about her being bad news.

The other guests were clapping. Were the wedding speeches over? He got a waiter’s attention and motioned for another beer. He’d already had more than he’d usually drink, but they were fuel to help him get through the evening.

A waiter put their meals in front of them and Suzie snatched the name card from behind his place setting and held it up triumphantly, her bracelets jangling with the movement. “Nate,” she exclaimed.

“Congratulations,” Nate’s voice dripped sarcasm. “You guessed it.”

She stared at the name card and her eyes widened with horror. “Nate Mason? You’re Nathaniel Mason, the one who made that Journeyman website?” She slapped her forehead as though berating herself. “You’re who Laura was talking about. Why didn’t I realize it was you? How could she have sat me next to you, when she knew what you did to me? Sometimes she can be so—”

Nate leaned forward, cutting off her flow of words. “I didn’t create the Journeyman website.”

“Liar.” Her beautiful eyes narrowed. “Laura said you—“

“I came up with the idea, wrote the back end, and designed the engine to connect with airline ticketing systems. My business partner added the hotel booking and rating system. Then the company we sold it to added features that screwed up the user interface. They ruined it. But they spent enough on advertising to make sure it was the product everyone used.”

Suzie waved his name card like it was a stick she could use to beat him with. Her voice rose. “I was a freelance corporate travel consultant, until your stupid software put me out of business.”

He snorted. “Journeyman isn’t the only website for booking travel. There are lots of others out there.”

She tossed her head, making her curls bounce angrily. “I was good at what I did. My clients loved me. But thanks to you, my work dried up and I couldn’t go on.”

She threw the name card back on the table and her blue eyes flashed. They had been striking when she had brown hair. Now, framed by her fiery red mane, the effect was so stunning he could barely drag his gaze away from them.

Everything about her was designed to goad him, from the tangle of curls he wanted to smooth back from her face, to the way she angled her upper body toward him, teasing him with the gorgeous swell of her breasts, emphasized by the low cut of her dress.

Did she have any idea what she could do to a man just by leaning close? Silly question, of course she did. She did it deliberately to drive men crazy. No wonder she’d been stuck in his head all these years.

He gave a slow, deliberate shrug, knowing it would irritate her. “The industry had to change. It was inevitable. Any smart person could have predicted it.”
Her cheeks flushed to match her hair. “Any smart person?”

He held her gaze, though she was so alight with fury the air around her was practically smoking. The implication that she hadn’t been clever enough to see it coming had taken her rage to a whole new level.

Now he knew what button to press to make her react this way, would it be bad to take advantage of it? If only she wasn’t so beautiful when she was angry. The brighter her cheeks got, the more luminous her eyes.

“Change always brings opportunity. Plenty of other people found ways to make money from the shift in people’s behavior.”

She dragged in a breath, her full lips parted in outrage. “Could you be any more arrogant? You think you’re so clever, but all the brains in the world can’t keep you from being a jerk. And you’re not just obnoxious, you’re also a liar.”

She leaned forward, so close that Nate could take a deep, intoxicating breath of her perfume. A single red curl fell over one eye, and Nate burned to tuck it behind her ear.

“Thanks to you, everyone thought I was easy. When people asked Laura about her plans for the future, it was always, ‘What college will you go to?’ And, ‘What’s your major going to be?’ Nobody ever asked me those questions. After the rumor went around about me offering sex to get better grades, all I got was sniggers and rude suggestions. I went through hell because of you.”

Nate had never meant his little untruth to go further than his brother, but he should have guessed Harrison would blab to his friends.

“Technically, I didn’t lie.” That’s what he’d told himself at the time, at least, although the words stuck in his throat now. If he’d ever said them aloud he might have realized how lame they sounded.

“You’re trying to deny it?”

“I don’t deny anything.” He kept his gaze level. She had a right to be angry, but it’d been a defensive move on his part, not an attack. “You came into the store while I was working. Between serving customers, I was doing my term paper. It was on the counter, and you groaned when you saw it. You said you’d do anything to be able to hand in my paper instead of your own.”

She stared at him in horror. “That was me offering you sex? I don’t even remember talking to you.”

Of course she didn’t remember. If only he could say the same. Her hair had been even curlier when it was shorter, and she used to worry one curl between her thumb and forefinger when she was deep in thought. He used to watch her at school. He’d study her face and get totally absorbed in the curve of her cheek, or the tilt of her head, or that dark freckle below her right eye.

And especially the larger-than-usual dip at the center of her upper lip. What was it called? Her cupid’s bow, that was it. Her mouth couldn’t be like everyone else’s. Oh no, it had to have an extra flourish. Her upper lip had two steep peaks like pink mountains, plump and perfectly kissable…

Stop it, Nate!

He grabbed his beer bottle and squeezed it. Kryptonite, that’s what she was.

“All I did was repeat your own words to Harrison,” he said. “That you’d told me you’d do anything if I gave you my paper to hand in.”

“But I didn’t mean it, and you knew it.” With a toss of her head, she flicked a stray curl back from her eyes. “You lied so Harrison wouldn’t go out with me. You thought he was too good for me. And it wasn’t just an asshole move, it was nothing short of evil. I’m surprised there aren’t horns growing out of your forehead.” She stabbed her finger at him and the curl fell right back down again. “I wish he were here, so you could confess what you did.”

Harrison’s face flashed into his mind, the way he’d looked a few weeks ago, last time Nate had paid him a visit. He spoke without thinking. “Harrison wouldn’t have come.”

“Why not? Unlike you, he has nothing to be ashamed of.”

Nate hesitated. He didn’t like talking about his brother. “Harrison’s busy writing a book,” he said after a moment. If only it were true. If Harrison could summon the enthusiasm to actually start the thing, he might finally manage to crawl out from the grief and depression that had crippled him.

“What kind of book? No, let me guess. Is it a memoir on how he survived a childhood living with his devil brother? A horror story to give people nightmares?”

“It’s nothing you’d want to read.” Nate brushed off the question because he was trying to remember what kind of book his brother had once wanted to write.

Suzie flushed. “You’d be surprised at the books I read,” she said in an acid tone. She must have thought he was implying Harrison’s book would be too intellectual for her.

Hell, Nate even offended her when he wasn’t trying. Maybe he should try to clear the air and end their war. He couldn’t blame her for being angry he’d lied to Harrison to stop their date. It hadn’t exactly been his finest moment.

“Listen, Suzie. I—”

She cut him off with a wave of her hand that made her bracelets clatter. “Don’t bother to apologize, Milhouse. Nothing could make up for what you did.”

Her use of that hated nickname swept away his guilt in a flood of anger. Being moved into advanced classes at school had meant he’d been younger and smaller than everyone else. The bullies had already singled him out, but when Suzie had christened him Milhouse she may as well have painted a target on his chest.

“I never apologize, and I have no regrets,” he growled. “Except the fact I can’t put you over my knee and give you the spanking you so richly deserve.”

She gasped. She was still leaning towards him, her face close. A rebel curl was dangling over one eye, all-but-daring him to smooth it away. The neckline of her dress swept low enough that he couldn’t help but admire the way her breasts heaved with each outraged breath. The small buttons that ran down her front trembled, inviting speculation on how easily they might come undone. Her beautiful lips had paled with the strength of her fury, and he had a sudden, almost uncontrollable urge to pull her to him, to cover her mouth with his. And then he’d yank that dress up and give her the spanking he’d promised.

Hell, what was he thinking? Nate shifted uncomfortably. He couldn’t let himself imagine things like that, let alone get hard at the thought. Hadn’t he learned his lesson the first time he’d been infatuated with her?

“Try it and you’ll wish you hadn’t,” she hissed.

He raised his eyebrows. “Is that a threat or a dare?”

A hesitant cough came from behind him, and Nate jerked his head around. “Yes?” It came out as a snarl.

The waiter flinched and took a deep breath, visibly bracing himself. “Um. Sorry to disturb. Have you, ah, finished?” He motioned to the table in front of Nate.

Startled, Nate looked down. Both he and Suzie had plates of untouched food in front of them. He’d forgotten it was there, and from her expression, so had she.
For the first time since he’d sat down, he tore his eyes away from Suzie to scan the table. They were seated with four other couples who’d all finished their meals. All were pointedly looking elsewhere.

Nate swallowed. He and Suzie must have been putting on quite a show. He’d been totally focused on her, but hadn’t it always been that way? The fact she could make his blood boil didn’t stop him from feeling as though when he was with her, nobody else in the world existed.

“We’ve finished. Thank you. Sorry.” Suzie looked away, one hand going under her hair to rub the back of her neck. Even her ears were flushing pink. She leaned back to let the waiter take their plates, and when she pulled away from Nate, it felt as though the temperature dropped several degrees. Over the years since he’d last seen her, he’d managed to forget how charismatic she was. It seemed like the energy of the universe was contained inside her. How could anyone blame him for being pulled in?

Nate gulped his beer, though it had gone warm and flat. At least it was a distraction. The band was striking up their first song, and Laura and Luke were walking barefoot onto the sandy dancefloor for their first dance as husband and wife. Laura was holding up her white dress and Luke had rolled up the bottom of his trousers as though they were expecting to dance in the incoming tide rather than on dry sand.

Everyone clapped, staying in their seats to watch the dance. It would be rude for Nate to leave yet, but soon he’d be able to escape back to his room and start the modifications to his software.

He drained his beer and motioned to the waiter for a fresh one. Suzie was on what had to be her fourth or fifth drink too, but showed no sign of slowing down. Her eyes were glittering, her attention fixed on Laura and her new husband. When would this song finish? As much as Nate liked Laura, she and Luke were terrible dancers, their movements jerky and awkward. They looked like two chickens trying to catch the same bug.

He’d gulped down a few good swallows of his next beer by the time the song ground to a merciful end. Politely clapping with everyone else, he felt Suzie lean towards him. Her lips moved so close to his ear that her warm breath tickled across his lobe. The sensation was exquisite. His whole body tingled with it, like she’d zapped him with a thousand volts of electricity.

“I hate you, Milhouse,” she whispered. Her voice was so low, it felt incredibly intimate and his body reacted as though she’d murmured an indecent suggestion instead of an insult. He was suddenly hard, shifting in his seat again, fighting the aching lust she could so easily summon in him.

Screw it.

He grabbed her arm, pulling her up to standing.

“What are you doing?” she yelped.

“Time to dance.” He hadn’t planned on dancing, and still had his shoes on while all the other guests moving onto the dance floor had kicked theirs off. But if Suzie’s dancing was anything like her sister’s, it might cure him of his attraction to her. At this stage, he was willing to try anything.

He’d managed to pull her halfway to the dance floor before Suzie wrenched herself free of his grip. “You think I’d dance with you? Not if we were the last two people left alive.” She darted to the nearest table where a man was sitting with a group of other guests. “Excuse me, would you like to dance?” She grabbed the man’s shoulder, practically hauling him to his feet.

The man looked startled for a moment. Then he flicked his gaze over Suzie’s delectable body and a sleazy grin crept over his face. “Sure.”

As the man led her to the dance floor, Nate’s fists clenched. If he had a scrap of sense, he’d either leave now, or head to the bar and finish the job of getting drunk. There was no reason for him to stay rooted to the spot, watching the man’s lecherous hands circle Suzie’s waist. No reason for his blood to heat as a slow song started and the man pulled Suzie close.