shoes and strolled toward Ben, glowing from the exertion of playing the game, and from her recent victory.
She stopped in front of him and wrinkled her nose. "Well, well, well. It looks like you're the one who's all hot and sweaty."
He dragged his fingers through his damp hair and laughed. It figured that she'd turn that comment back around on him, and he did the same thing.
"It's nothing a quick shower can't take care of." But while he'd previously fantasized about her joining him, in reality he was all on his own.
CHRISTINE followed Ben inside his apartment and waited as he locked and bolted the door after her. The extra bit of security was a direct reminder that it wasn't all fun and games between her and her bodyguard, even if she'd had a blast playing basketball and showing the boys, and Ben, that she wasn't the prissy girly-girl they'd thought she was.
"Go ahead and make yourself comfortable," Ben said, waving a hand toward the small living area of the apartment. "And help yourself to something to drink in the kitchen. I think there's some bottled water in the fridge, along with Gatorade and beer, if you feel like drinking and belching like one of the boys," he teased.
"No beer for me," she said with a shake of her head. "That's where I draw the line and prefer a froufrou drink, like an apple martini or piña colada."
His smile was slow, deliberate, and combined with his still tousled, sweaty outdoor appearance made him look sexy as hell. "Sorry, but I'm fresh out of fruity umbrella drinks."
"Ha-ha," she replied with a sassy grin of her own. "Go take your shower, smartaleck."
He placed his keys on the counter that separated the living room from the kitchen. "I only need about twenty minutes to shower, dress, and pack a bag, so I shouldn't be long."
"Ahhh, the joys of being a man." She sighed enviously. "A quick shower, no angsting over what to wear, and no preplanning what to pack for your stay."
"Being a man does have its perks," he agreed. "By the way, what do I need to wear tonight? Does the club have a specific dress code?"
"Jeans and a nice shirt are fine."
He looked relieved that she hadn't asked him to don a suit and tie. "Perfect. That's just my style."
She watched him head down the short hall and nearly groaned when he pulled his damp shirt off just before he turned into the bedroom. She caught a quick glimpse of his smooth, muscled back, and that was more than enough to make her stomach clench with the desire to see what all that hard, honed flesh felt like sliding against her fingertips.
He didn't close the bedroom door, but a moment later she heard a different door shut, then the sound of running water, indicating he was about to get into the shower… completely naked.
Realizing just how dry her mouth had become, she walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. There wasn't a whole lot inside—mainly take-out containers, a carton of milk, and the drinks he'd mentioned earlier. Definitely a sign of a bachelor. Bypassing the beer and Gatorade, she grabbed a bottle of water. Strolling back into the living room, she twisted the cap off the bottle and swallowed a good amount of the cool water as she took in his sparse furnishings.
A single reclining chair in a dark brown leather material, worn from plenty of use, occupied one side of the room. An old, scarred wooden side table was situated nearby with a few Soldier of Fortune magazines stacked neatly on top. Against the opposite wall was what appeared to be Ben's one main indulgence—a large, flat-screen TV tucked inside a basic entertainment center.
The apartment looked like he'd just moved in but hadn't had the time, or the inclination, to decorate or give the place any special touches of his own. The off-white walls were completely bare, and except for a clock on the wall there weren't any knickknacks anywhere to be seen. The only things she saw that she'd even consider remotely personal were two small framed