I'm reaching for the knob when something crunches behind me. I whirl, fists up at the ready, heart racing. Dean stares back at me, an agitated look on his face as he looks me up and down. Mouth in a tight line, he asks, "What the hell are you doing here?"
I can't tear my eyes away from his shirtless torso and the sweat beading on his tanned skin. The moonlight accentuates hard lines of muscle and a large black tattoo covering his left pec and wrapping over his shoulder. Balls, he's hot. When did Dean turn into a snack I’d like nothing more than to sink my teeth into?
"You planning on staring at me all damn morning, or do you think you could answer my question?"
His sharp tone breaks my trance, and I remind myself just how much I hate this asshole. "I'm here to work,” I say.
"You're early. As in about a week."
"Figured I'd get an early start. After all, according to my parents, I have a lot to learn from you. Why the hell are you walking around naked?"
"I'm not naked." Pushing past me, he opens the door and steps inside, shutting it right in my face.
"You have got to be kidding me. Calm down, Kleo. If you kill him, you'll end up in prison for murder, and you look horrible in orange." After a calming breath, I push open the door and step into the open-concept living space. A large lodge-style living room boasts an old stone fireplace, a couch, and two sitting chairs. The living room opens into the kitchen where Dean is still shirtless and prepping a pot of coffee. The muscles in his back stretch and flex as he reaches up and pulls a bag of Black Rifle Coffee down and starts scooping it into the basket.
Forget the snack, Dean Lewis is an entire damned meal.
"Do you often talk to yourself first thing in the morning?"
I should be embarrassed that he heard me. Instead, his nonchalant comment just stokes the fire steadily building inside of me. "Do you often slam the door in people’s faces?"
"Just when I'm hoping they'll get the hint and leave."
"Not a chance." I drop my suitcase for good measure and fold both arms over my chest. After pressing a button on the coffee pot, he turns to face me. "Let's get one thing straight."
He turns, his hazel gaze leveling on me. "You and I are not friends. We will never be friends, and the second you screw up—and I'm betting you will if your track record is any indication—I'll be reporting you."
I smirk. "Haven't you ever heard the phrase, ‘snitches get stitches’?"
He laughs. “If you think for one second that you scare me, you have another think coming. You're a spoiled brat who has never had to work for anything in her life, and for the first time, you're not going to be able to get by on pretty looks and bright smiles. “
“So you think I'm pretty? Good to know.”
“The fact that that's what you took from this conversation just goes to prove what I've thought about you the entire time, which is that you are incapable of doing anything for anyone but yourself.”
It takes everything in me not to scream at him. Not to lift the nearest vase and throw it at his cocky face. Two things I know he's hoping I'll do. But Dean Lewis is about to find out just who he's dealing with, and it's not the spoiled little brat that he's painted me to be.
I lift my suitcase and grin at him. "I'm gonna go unpack. See you after you go home and get dressed. Really, Dean, being half-naked at work?” I click my tongue. “Seems like you’re the one who will have to worry." Heading down the hall toward the master bedroom, I pass pictures of myself and Judson from when we were kids playing in the Bay or climbing the steps to the tall lighthouse at the edge of the Turner camp. We were so innocent, bright smiles with no shadowed pain. Those were the days.
Pushing open the heavy wooden door, I step inside, grateful to see that some things don't change. The large handmade four-poster bed I helped my Grandfather carve still sits in the center of the far wall, covered in the red and orange quilt my grandmother made. Setting my suitcase down on the floor, I move to the dresser and pull open the top drawer. I'm expecting an empty space and instead am greeted with a neat stack of boxers.
"You've got to be freaking kidding me." I turn, not at all surprised to see Dean standing in the doorway. "This is my room," I say.
He steps toward me. "Not yet." He grins, savage and unwelcoming. "Until you run this camp, this is my room, and I'd appreciate you leaving so I can get changed."
Dean bends and lifts my suitcase, carrying it to the door and depositing it in the hall. Then, he moves to the side and gestures for me to follow it like I'm someone he can simply dismiss. He sure as hell has me wrong.
Remaining rooted in the spot, I glare at him. "This is my family's place, and I'll be damned if I'm sleeping in the spare bedroom."
"Then I guess you’re damned because until your father lets me go and puts you in my place, this is where I'm staying."
I glare at him a moment longer, and he shrugs. "Have it your way." Turning away from me, he reaches for the waistband of his shorts and shoves them down, giving me a front-row view of his perfectly muscled bare ass.
"What the hell!" I yell and spin, covering both eyes.
"I told you I needed to change. I have work to do.”
"You're such an asshole!" I yell back and step into the hall, slamming the door behind me. But no matter how thick the solid wood between us, I can't get the image of his bare ass out of my head. And damn, what an ass it is.