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She’s mad as hell.
He’s the reason.
The desert may not be big enough for both of them…
Tell Me More…
Lexy Stuart is nobody’s fool…not since she wised up to the fact that her fiancé, Noah Paxton, wasn’t just sporting the hardest bod this side of the Ironman competition. No, he was also harboring enough secrets to make a CIA operative blush. Little things he never thought worth mentioning like, oh, a previous marriage. So Lexy gave back the ring—with extreme prejudice—and made sandy tracks straight to a remote desert spa. Problem is, with a man like Noah, a girl can run, but she can’t hide. Nor does she particularly want to…
Alexa Annabeth Stuart. The stuffy name couldn’t be less suitable for a woman as fiery and free as Noah’s Lexy. And Lexy is his—always will be—the tricky part will be getting her to realize it. Of course, Noah’s always up for a challenge. Which is a good thing, since between the crazy heat at this god-forsaken “retreat” and the looks Lexy’s shooting him (not to mention the shockwaves he’s getting from her hot-pink bikini), winning his ex back could be one dangerous mission. But if Noah doesn’t survive it, well, he intends to die a very satisfied man…
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“This is your idea of a vacation?” Noah Paxton asked
the question with a practiced level of calm he did not actually feel. By the way Alexa Stuart—Lexy to him—jumped up and out of her pool lounge chair, he guessed the fake tone did not impress her, either.
Dark sunglasses hid her eyes, but her dropped jaw suggested he caught her off guard. “Noah?”
She remembered his name. That was something. “Miss me?”
She settled back in her seat and smoothed out the magazine she had just crumpled in her fists. “No.”
“I’m going to take that as a compliment.”
She flipped her sunglasses to the top of her head and squinted up at him with intense green eyes. “What are you doing here?”
Funny, but the woman did not look at all surprised to see him. Probably had something to do with the fact she ruined their relationship, screwed with his career, and then ran. She had to know he would track her down eventually.
“I could ask you the same question,” he said.
“You already know the answer to that one. I’m on vacation.”
“Uh-huh.” That was all he could think to say while trying to ignore the size of her tiny pink bikini. The thing seemed to shrink more the longer he stared at it, but maybe that was wishful thinking.
With the burning southern Utah heat bouncing around and searing through his long-sleeved shirt, he understood her less-is-more theory of dressing. Still, there were other resort patrons hanging in the area. As far as Noah could tell, they all had eyes.
He scanned the pool deck to make sure none of those eyes belonged to men and none were staring at Lexy’s incredible shrinking bikini. Only a few other people braved the beating sun on the pool deck. Most of them sat up to their necks in the water. All but one was female.
The male-female ratio qualified as the only positive Noah could find about the high-adventure hiking spa Lexy chose as her temporary playground. Not that he knew what the hell a high-adventure hiking spa even was. He read the description online three times before jumping on a plane to retrieve Lexy. Once he saw the price of the joint, he seriously considered changing careers from security analyst to spa owner.
He wondered how the folks who ran the place convinced otherwise competent people to shell out a couple grand a week to stay at a no-frills location in the middle of nowhere. The place in question consisted of a few single-story and two-story stucco buildings painted almost the same color as the towering red rocks ringing them.
Deep in a valley and about two hours from Las Vegas, the spa felt more like an isolated boot camp than an expensive resort. Clean with well-kept grounds, but no extras. A bit too much of a throwback to his military days for Noah’s comfort.
“How did you pick this joint?” he asked.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Aren’t we touchy?”
“Let’s just say I’m waiting for you to tell me whatever it is you came the whole way here to say.”
He ignored that and started with the most obvious problem with her choice of bathing location. “This place is forty miles from the nearest anything. Didn’t see a restaurant or store anywhere close.”
He tolerated the desert as much as the next guy, but why not enjoy it after a little gambling while looking down from a luxury room high above the Las Vegas Strip?
“That’s why people stay here,” she said.
“For the seclusion. Red Valley Fitness is known for its intense exercise and nutrition packages.”
“You sound like a walking advertisement.” Not a surprise, since she was a marketing genius, but still.
She let out a little sigh. “No one asked you to come here.”
Which explained why anger continued to spill through his veins at a rate that threatened to crack his spine. “I couldn’t resist.”
“But you can leave.”
“What happened to you going to places close to the house to get your toes painted and body scrubbed . . .” Scrub. Bikini. Yeah, he needed to change conversation topics. “Or whatever that stuff you do is called.”
“Toenails, not toes.” She wiggled them as if to emphasize the distinction. “And I do not get body scrubs.”
She seemed determined to kill him with visual reminders of what she hid under that skimpy bathing suit.
“We’re getting off course here,” he said in an effort to preserve his sanity.
“I’m not even sure what course we were on.”
“I could say something obvious, but I’ll let that one go.”
She rested her magazine against her thighs with an exaggerated sigh. “To answer your previous question, people choose this spa for fitness.”
“They don’t have an outside at home where they pay a mortgage and get fresh air for free?”
“You can’t get everything you need at home.” Her eyebrows inched up with the provocative phrase.
“Don’t remember hearing any complaints from you on that score before now.”
“I’m not there now, am I?”
“Very funny.” Not even a little funny, actually.
He was two seconds away from giving her a reminder of just how well they worked together on the home front. Probably would have if it were not so damn hot. And if she didn’t look ready to kill him.
“I was talking about the exercise facilities,” she said with a smile that suggested she liked his discomfort a bit too much. “Some people come here because they like the exercise classes and hiking.”
He glanced around, expecting to see people passed out from dragging around backpacks in this heat. “Only an idiot would walk around out here in early September. It still hits a hundred degrees before noon.”
“That’s why the hikes start at six.”
She had to be kidding. “In the morning?”
Not kidding. “Is the goal to steam clean your body from the inside out?”
She closed her eyes for a second. “I give up, Noah. What are you doing here?”
Now, there was a damn fine question. If she would throw on a towel he might be able to come up with a damn fine response. As it stood, only strings of babble filled his brain.
Times like these he wished he were an ass man. Lexy sat on that particular and very impressive part of her anatomy. Her long, sexy legs . . . well, he had always been a leg man. Then his gaze skimmed over her to the tops of her breasts where they plumped over her skimpy suit. Okay, he was a bit of a breast man, too.
Who was he trying to kid? Eyes. Mouth. Shoulder-length, baby-soft brown hair, and the sexiest shade of green eyes ever. Hell, even knees. He loved all of Lexy’s parts.
Sure. Once he figured out what the question was.
She tapped on the magazine. “Why are you hovering over my chair?”
“I was in the neighborhood.”
“You’re about seven hundred miles from home.”
“Dry heat makes you grumpy.” He held up his hands. “I’m not judging. Just stating a fact.”
“Yeah, the heat is the problem with my attitude.” She added an eye roll as if he could not pick up on her sarcasm without it.
“I’m here looking for you.” Because being the only person at the pool’s edge dressed in a suit without a blazer in temperatures nearing one hundred did not make him look like enough of an idiot.
“You’re not at the office.”
“Believe it or not, that’s not a crime.”
“You never go on vacation.”
“We have a work emergency.” He cleared his throat to make sure he had her attention. “Then there’s the misunderstanding between us.”
He took her wide-eyed “have-you-lost-your-mind?” stare to mean she was not happy with his interpretation of the situation between them. “What’s with the look?”
“We do not have a misunderstanding.”
She said that a little too fast for his liking.
He sat down nice and slow on the chair next to her, so he didn’t tip the thing over. Landing on the cement at her feet lacked a certain male appeal. Bad enough he had to run after Lexy. Crawling around at her feet stepped over the line.
“Don’t sit,” she ordered.
He faced her on the same level this time. “Too late.”
She slapped her magazine against her bare legs. “The chair is taken.”
“By?” He glanced around ready to beat the shit out of whatever poor loser tried to wrestle the seat away from him.
“Anyone who wants it except you.”
“I’ll get back up if I need to. That’s one thing I still do just fine.”
She let out a little huff before speaking. “Let’s just get to it, okay?”
Sounded good to him. “Thought I’d have to wait longer for you to talk about this subject.”
He had been waiting for four weeks for an explanation. The woman breaks it off, hands back the ring, ignores him, and then she races off to a place where people cooked in the sun for fun. Not her usual style. She had abandoned her stay-and-fight mentality in favor of hiding.
Something other than her being ticked off at him was happening here. He picked up on that clue when his computer password stopped working at the office. He fixed that easily enough. Finding the files Lexy stole was proving to be a bit harder.
“How did you find me?” she asked.