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He didn't move a muscle, though for a moment she swore she saw a flicker of desire in his hazel eyes. Her heart quickened.
She hadn't taken the time to look at him before she'd brought him upstairs, but now she let her gaze linger. From what she could see there wasn't an ounce of fat on his lean, conditioned body. His muscular chest was sprinkled lightly with golden hair that matched the disheveled curls on his head. At first glance, she'd thought him to be in his late twenties, but now she realized he couldn't be much older than her own twenty-five years. Incredibly handsome, with a square jaw and finely shaped features, he sat in front of her with a quiet confidence she couldn't help but admire.
"You're in pretty good shape," she murmured, knowing it was an understatement, but not willing to give him more.
"I work -" He stopped and paused for a moment.
"I worked outside at my last job."
Kaitlyn stared at him curiously. For a moment she'd sworn he was going to say he worked out. But that would be ludicrous. Though she knew little about him, he'd told her on the way up the stairs that he was unemployed and down to his last twenty dollars.
Heaving a sigh, she tugged his shirt free from his jeans and cast it aside. With more confidence than she felt, Kaitlyn's hands moved upward skimming his waist. His skin was warm and smooth beneath her touch and the masculine scent of soap and cologne surrounded her. Her heart picked up speed, despite her resolve to keep this strictly business.
She paused for a moment, her hands lingering just below his sculpted pectorals.
He sucked in his breath.
"Sorry." Kaitlyn met his eyes.
"No problem. I'm just a little sensitive there."
Kaitlyn had expected as much. She hesitated, not knowing if he wanted her to proceed or not.
"You don't have to do this if you don't want to," he said, obviously misunderstanding her hesitation. "Heck, you don't even know me."
"You don't know me, either," Kaitlyn said in a deliberately light tone. "I could be into inflicting pain."
"I hope not," he said, smiling for the first time. "And I do know you. Or at least I know your name. You're Katy? Right?"
"Kaitlyn," she said, automatically correcting him. Her father and brothers had always called her Katy. But she preferred the more sophisticated version of her name. "Katy" was a name for a child. And she'd never really had a chance to be a child.
"I'm Clay," he said, although she hadn't asked. "Clay Reynolds."
Kaitlyn wondered why he'd bothered to introduce himself. After all, once he left the house tonight she'd never see him again, so what did it matter?
"Let's get on with this, shall we?" Kaitlyn spoke more sharply than she'd intended. "I don't have all night."
His smile vanished at her abrupt tone. Before she knew what was happening Clay pushed aside her hands, rose to his feet, and retrieved his shirt. "This was a bad idea. I shouldn't have come here."
"No, don't go." Ashamed of her rudeness to a guy who'd been nothing but nice, Kaitlyn grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. "Please stay."
His gaze met hers and an unexpected shiver traveled up her spine. "You're sure you don't mind doing this?"
Kaitlyn forced a smile and nodded. "I'm positive."
Fifteen minutes later, his wounds freshly bandaged, Clay McCashlin followed Kaitlyn down the stairs, his curiosity about the woman thoroughly aroused.
She'd cleaned the torn patches of flesh with a methodical precision that would have put Florence Nightingale to shame - removing the tiny pieces of road gravel bit by bit, all the while making polite conversation. But that was as far as it went. No flirtatious looks or little laughs.
He couldn't help but be intrigued. It had been his experience that most women weren't so standoffish.
Or had he lost his touch?
Clay shoved the doubts aside. He wasn't about to start getting paranoid because of Lynda. She'd been the one exception, interested in him only because of his money.
Her betrayal had hurt not only his heart, but also his confidence. He hadn't dated anyone seriously since the engagement had ended. Oh, he'd met lots of women in the past six months, but no one that intrigued him.
Clay cast a glance at the woman heading down the stairs in front of him. Kaitlyn's khaki pants accentuated her shapely backside and when she'd bent over him earlier he couldn't help but notice how the knit shirt hugged her high firm breasts.
The shirt matched her vivid green eyes and complemented her hair color. Though Clay had never been fond of red hair, hers was really more like copper and he liked the way it fell in loose waves past her shoulders. With her ivory complexion and patrician features, Kaitlyn wasn't a woman most men would consider beautiful, but there was something about her that was appealing. And, despite the pain, for a moment he'd been tempted to kiss her.
She'd probably have hauled off and slugged me.
Clay smiled. She also had spunk. He liked that.
"So, did Katy get you all fixed up?" Kaitlyn's father, Frank, stood at the bottom of the stairs, an anxious smile on his face.
Clay could tell Frank still felt guilty. He'd tried to tell the man the accident was no big deal, but Frank wouldn't believe him.
"Good as new." Clay smiled.
"I think he cracked a few ribs." Kaitlyn cast a pointed glance at her father. "It would be best to have a doctor check him out."
Excerpted from Kiss Me, Kaitlyn by Cynthia Rutledge Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted October 6, 2009
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