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"I think..." She moistened her dry lips and met his gaze. "I think maybe we should have a fling."
He raised his eyebrows. "A fling?"
Uncertainty tugged at her belly. "An affair then? I'm not sure what people call it, you know, not dating, but, um, spending a couple of weeks having sex with someone..."
"So you want to have sex with me, but not date me?"
A pained expression creased his handsome face. "Well, then, that might be a problem."
She fought back disappointment. "Why?"
"Because I'm not really interested in flings anymore." Carson's jaw tensed. "After the night at the club, I decided I'm not that kind of guy anymore."
"What kind of guy?"
He frowned. "The kind who screws random strangers in closets." He shook his head, looking upset. "I've done the casual thing all my life and I think it's time to stop it." Something that resembled vulnerability flashed across his eyes. "I want to go on a date with you."
He shot her a cute grin and shrugged. "Because I like you. You're ... well, you're kind of weird."
She bristled. "Thanks."
"In a good way," he added quickly. "I mean, you're gorgeous, sure, but there's something else that draws me to you. Maybe it's that good girl image you're determined to lose. And you're funny, and interesting, and ... I don't know, I just wouldn't mind getting to know you."
She had no response. It was really sweet, everything he was saying, but she wasn't sure she wanted sweet right now. The night she'd slept with Carson, she hadn't been sweet. Naughty, maybe. Reckless, sure. But not sweet.
And a date? That was the last thing she wanted right now. She'd justgotten out of a six-month relationship, one she'd poured so much time and energy into--for nothing. At the moment, dating again sounded way too tiring, and she was tired enough as it was. Sex, she could handle. But not a new romance. Not when her heart was still recovering from Steve.
"So what do you say?" Carson asked, looking oddly nervous.
She felt awful, but she had to tell the truth. "I don't want to start dating anyone right now. I recently got out of a relationship. I'm swamped with work and the culinary course I'm taking. I just want ... fun."
"You mean sex," he said flatly.
She sighed. "Yes."
He shoved his hands in his pockets and gave her a rueful look. "Then I'm sorry. I can't help you."
She rolled her eyes. "Sure you can. Just do me again."
A faint smile broke through the serious expression on his face, but it faded quickly. "I'm serious, Holly. I want something different this time around."
They'd reached an impasse. She could see it. But she could also see the glimmer of desire in his blue eyes.
Maybe if she gave him a tiny little push...
Licking her lips, she stepped forward and rested both palms on his impossibly broad shoulders. "Are you sure I can't change your mind?"
He was a lot taller than her and she had to tilt her head fully to look into his eyes. The desire she'd seen there had deepened the moment she'd touched him. Fueled by the obvious attraction, she leaned up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips over his.
For a second he didn't respond, but he evidently couldn't hold back for long, because a moment later he parted her lips with his tongue and kissed the hell out of her. Heat rolled through her in waves, making her breasts tingle, her thighs ache. His mouth was warm and persuasive, his tongue so skilled she closed her eyes to savor each sensual stroke.
Carson's hands slid down her back to her ass, cupping it, stroking it, and then he moved one hand to her front, inched it down to the juncture of her thighs ... and pulled it away.
She swallowed back a groan of disappointment as he ended the incredible kiss.
"No." His features strained. "I meant what I said. I want more this time."
Holly could see that she'd lost the battle. Fortunately, the war was still up for grabs.
Sighing, she asked, "Do you have a cell phone?"
"Can I see it?"
Shooting her a quizzical look, he pulled a slender phone from his back pocket and handed it to her. Without giving him time to object, she quickly programmed in her phone number and handed him back the cell.
"My number's in there now," she said with a grin. "So if you change your mind, you know how to reach me."
Carson looked pained. "You really want this fling, don't you?"
"You bet I do. So don't keep me waiting long, okay, Carson?"
Still grinning, she turned and walked away.