“Besides,” Quinn reached the bottom of the ladder and held up a hand, “aren’t you tired of dancing around this? For the last few months, we’ve danced around this.”
“That’s what responsible adults do.” Juliet automatically took his hand to descend. Electricity danced up her arm from his warm palm.
“Bullshit.” He helped her to the hard-tiled floor.
“You feel it, too.”
Yes, she did, and the crass language actually turned her on. But he didn’t know her, and he wouldn’t like her if he did. “I’ve chosen not to act on any temporary attraction.” As a tall woman, it truly unnerved her when she needed to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. “How tall are you, anyway?”
He shrugged. “Six four, last time I checked. How about you?”
He nodded. “Petite. Very petite.”
The man was crazy. She tugged her hand free. “I’m not dating you.”
“I know. We’re pretending.” He glanced around at the many paintings on the wall. “Are these from Sophie’s new collection?”
“Yes.” The damn man already knew his sister-in-law’s paintings adorned the walls.
“Didn’t you promise her an amazing showing for the opening of your gallery?” he asked.
“Well, then. This is the only place to have an amazing showing, right?”
Wasn’t that just like a man to go right for the kill? Sophie was Juliet’s friend, one of her only friends, and the showing meant a lot to her. “You’re not being fair.”
He reached out and ran a finger down Juliet’s cheek, his gaze following the motion.
Heat flared from his touch, through her breasts, right down between her legs. “Stop.”
His hand dropped. “I need a pretend girlfriend. You need to keep the gallery open. This is a perfect agreement.”
Darn it. Temptation had her glancing around the spectacular space. Three rooms, all containing different types of Western art, made up the gallery. The main room already held most of the paintings created by Sophie Lodge. Rich, oil-based paintings showing life in Maverick, life on the reservation, and the wickedness of Montana weather. The showing would put both Sophie’s art and Juliet’s gallery on the Western-gallery map.
She wanted on that map. Perhaps badly enough to make a deal with the sheriff. Plus, she was tired of dancing around her attraction to Quinn. Would that attraction explode or fizzle if they spent time together? Frankly, it didn’t matter. She had to leave town soon. Why not appease her curiosity? “Okay, but keep your hands to yourself.”
“No.” She pressed her hands on her hips. The man was too dangerous, too tempting. A woman had to keep some control, or Quinn would run wild. No question. “You’re creative, and this is your idea. If we pretend to date, you keep your hands off me.”
His eyes dropped to an amused, challenging expression. He held out both hands, palms up. “Tell you what, darlin’. These hands won’t touch you until you ask nicely. Very nicely.”
“That will never happen,” she snapped.
His left eyebrow rose. “I wondered if that red hair came with a temper.” Interest darkened his eyes to midnight. “So much passion locked up in such a classy package. I thought so.” He leaned into her space. “Be careful, or I’ll make you beg.”