Michael stared across his desk at the top of Brigit’s head. It was bent as she studied his file on Peter Donovan. She’d bathed and her freshly washed hair hung around her face. She kept tucking sections behind her ears, but as the dark tresses dried, they formed natural waves that sprang forward like stretched rubber bands snapping back into place. Because she’d had no clean clothes to replace her smoky-smelling running attire, Michael had given her one of his T-shirts and a pair of sweats.
While she’d cleaned up in his upstairs bathroom, he’d placed the necessary calls to get the FBI chasing Tory and the charges against Brigit dropped. He’d also made sure Ella was back home safe and sound.
Brigit flipped a paper over, then pushed her hair back from her face. Keeping her eyes on the paper, she used the fingers of her right hand to make graceful sweeps through the curls, which coiled back immediately. She did it again, and Michael’s concentration slipped another notch.
She glanced up. “Do you have any hairbands?”
Grabbing a section of his short hair and pulling up a whole half an inch, he cocked a brow at her.
“Right,” she said. “I just thought maybe Julia or one of your other female friends might have left one here.”
Her continual references to Julia did not escape notice. Even though his relationship with Julia was in the past, he liked the fact Brigit appeared threatened by her. Deciding it didn’t hurt to feed Brigit’s anxiety about his other female friends, he said, “Sorry, I haven’t noticed any.”
She dropped her head back, closed her eyes and let out a sigh. “I can still smell the smoke in my hair. It’s driving me nuts.”
All he could smell was his shampoo on her. And his soap. He liked the smell and the image of her in his bathtub washing her curves with his bath products. He blinked the image away. “Smoke is hard to get out. It may take more than one shampooing to do it.”
“Especially since I’m gimped.” She wiggled the fingers of her left hand, peeking out of the sling he’d given her for her arm. It was the one he’d used after his surgery. “Only having one hand, and that one being my right, I wasn’t very thorough.”
“You can try again in the morning.”
She closed the file, setting it on his desk as she stood. “No, I won’t be able to sleep. The smell brings back old nightmares. I’ve got to wash it again now. Mind if I do it in the kitchen sink? It might be easier.”
Nightmares could be triggered by the smallest things. He’d gone around that block a time or two. Her smoke trigger could mean several different things. Either way, what did he care if she washed her hair again?
Nodding his consent, he filed the fact away and watched her walk out of the study, her hips lost in his sweatpants. She’d tugged the drawstring as tight as it would go and rolled the waistband over several times. Still, she’d had to fold cuffs into the pant legs to keep from walking on them.
A minute later, he heard her in the kitchen. He followed the sound of running water and pulled up short in the doorway. She’d removed the sling and his T-shirt, and his eyes locked on her creamy white back intersected by her bra strap as she bent to put her head under the copper faucet. The waistband of his sweatpants dipped low, revealing a shooting-star tattoo on her lower back. He sucked in air as small explosions fired in his brain.
He’d been able to keep his mind off her cleavage when it had been on display at the hospital because she’d been hurt. Now the soft pink bra strap reminded him of the cups cradling her full breasts.
Brigit’s right hand snaked out to grab his bottle of shampoo on the counter and knocked it over, sending it skidding off and falling to the floor. “Damn it.”
She tried to keep her dripping head over the sink as she used her foot to maneuver the bottle toward her.
Michael took three punching strides and rescued the bottle from the floor. “Let me help you.”
“Oh.” Her body tensed, no doubt since she was half-naked and again at his mercy. “Thanks.” Her tone oozed insincerity.
Chuckling to himself, he set the bottle on the counter. “You missed a spot.” With a gentle push, he eased her head back down so he could use the spray nozzle, his fingers parting her hair to make sure it was saturated. She put her good arm on the lip of the sink for support and leaned into the water.
He worked the water through her hair, enjoying the way the thick hair clung to his fingers. Grabbing the shampoo bottle, he squeezed out a coin-sized amount of the liquid and went to work massaging it into her scalp.
“Ah,” she sighed, the sound warming the blood in his veins. The tension in her shoulders evaporated. The bunched muscles in her back smoothed. Her whole body relaxed.
His, however, did just the opposite. The sound of her voice, the sight of the tattoo, the memory of her luscious curves sparked a flash bang of heat low in his gut. His senses cartwheeled. A need, dormant for months, rose and spread under his skin with a fierce intensity.
He wanted the sensation to go on, but the voice inside his mind joined in the cartwheels, panic evident. Even though he was working with her to hunt down Donovan, Brigit was the enemy. She was blackmailing him. He was blackmailing her.
And while he wouldn’t kid himself about the sexual attraction oozing through his veins, he wasn’t into delusions either. Casual sex might be an option, but it was a damn poor one considering their current level of distrust with each other.
She moved under him, adjusting her arm position, and her hip brushed against his leg. His body stomped on his logic. What did a little innocent fantasizing hurt? He let his gaze roam over her backside, noticing how his sweats emphasized her butt while she was bent over. It was a nice butt. A really nice butt.
With an intricate tat riding it.
Damn. As he rinsed the shampoo from her hair, he let his senses soak her up while his imagination did a wheelhouse spin in the casual-sex department.
Two minutes later, he toweled her hair and forced his mind out of the erotic dreamscape in his head. His nylon sport pants were entirely too formfitting, and after he helped her put his shirt back on, he pushed her ahead of him toward the stairs.
“Where are we going?”
He adjusted his pants behind her back. “To bed.”
She stopped abruptly and shot him a quizzical look over her shoulder. He righted himself and used his hand to propel her forward again. “My guestroom is all yours.”
As they climbed, Michael couldn’t stop thinking about her tattoo. “For someone who can’t stomach needles, I’m surprised you’d go under one for a tat.”
Again she shot him a look that questioned his roaming eyes. “I didn’t. It’s a temporary one. A shooting star for luck.”
“Only for the person who sees it. You can’t see your…” He cleared his throat. “Back there.”
“Guess you’re the lucky one then tonight.”
Under her gaze, he faltered, a million and one comments running through his head, every last one of them completely inappropriate.