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When Luke saw Lexi emerge from the path, his heart hummed. Her gesture from the balcony had been difficult to interpret. Which finger had she used? If it had been the middle finger, he did not expect to see her. Apparently, it was a different finger.

Although Lexi's smile came across as timid, her face shone like alabaster, as if the moon had given her its light because she was so beautiful. She wore a strapless dress over her bathing suit, and her legs seemed to go on to infinity, but he knew exactly where they ended. This was not his first rodeo, but he felt like a youth enjoying a crush, and his manhood twitched at the sight of her. 

Luke predicted Lexi would be nervous, given that she was sneaking out of the house to meet a man her family was determined to keep her away from, but he suspected her nervousness also stemmed from the fact that this was likely her first rodeo. He had to credit her bravery

"Good evening, Lexi," he said as he met her halfway. "I'm happy you decided to join me. May I say, you look more radiant than the moonlight." Luke offered a gracious smile, but when he saw her eyes lower in embarrassment, he continued with, "I hope you don't mind I have taken advantage of your private beach. I don't often get to swim in the sea."

She lifted her chin as a glimmer of confidence spread over her face. "Our guests are always welcome to use the beach whenever they like."

As they walked to the blanket he'd laid out, Luke noticed the scent Lexi carried with her. He guessed it to be lemon verbena, and it made his head spin, like he had indulged in too many glasses of champagne. "I take it you like to swim."

"Yes. I'm on my school's swim team. We were division champs last year."

"I can see you being quite good at it. You have the body of a swimmer."

Again, her gaze dropped to hide her distress, and he made a mental note to keep his compliments to a minimum, or leave out references to her body.

"Please, have a seat. Your mother insisted I have a blanket in case I came down to take in the surf. I enjoy the beach, but I don't enjoy sitting in the sand."

"I'm the same way."

Lexi eyeballed the blanket, probably still fighting an internal battle with her conscience. He was a deviant, but he was no cad. Finally, Lexi set her towel on the blanket and lowered herself gracefully onto it. After experimenting with several positions, she opted to cross her legs, spending another few seconds tugging her dress over her thighs.

In spite of her efforts, a yellow triangle of bathing suit remained visible, and it took great restraint on his part not to glance at it as she fidgeted. Lexi appeared to be acutely aware of the direction his eyes roamed.

"So, Lexi, I would love to hear more about you. What else do you enjoy besides swimming? Are you involved in other sports? Do you have hobbies? Favorite authors?"

Lexi smiled in response to his inquiry, igniting her eyes like blue flames. Had she not expected him to show an interest in her mind? Was her opinion of men so narrow? Where had she gotten such an opinion? Oh yes, teenaged boys.

"I love the works of Ernest Hemingway," she said. "Although his stories always make me cry. I'm on the lacrosse team at school, and I also ride horses, although I count that as a hobby, since I do it only for pleasure."

There were many responses Luke could give to her comment, but he needed Lexi to trust him, not slap him. "I'm partial to Douglas Adams myself, but I'll pick up Steinbeck or Thoreau when I'm feeling contemplative."

"I love Douglas Adams. Did you know he was a script editor for Doctor Who?"

"No. I don't watch much television, but I have heard the show has a strong following. Are you a fan?"

"I wouldn't consider myself a fan, but I met the tenth doctor, David Tennant, during a trip to London. My family and I travel a lot. The UK is one of my favorite areas. There are so many historical sites. I started a travel journal when I was seven and have added to it every year."

She bit her lip, which appeared to be an attempt to stop herself, and Luke had to stifle a grin. "Travel is good for the soul. I'm glad you have had those opportunities."

"Me too."

Lexi relaxed back onto her hands, a clear sign her comfort level was improving. Although Luke was distracted by the yellow triangle peeking under her dress, he knew he had all weekend to admire her captivating assets. In fact, he enjoyed listening to her spirited remarks. Lexi was a charming young woman who utilized her brain and displayed a contagious enthusiasm for life, a characteristic he had not come across in a long while. If he wasn't careful, she might have him eating out of her hand rather than the other way around.

PLAYLIST SONG: The Bones of You by Elbow

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