~17~

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Exhaling a disappointed sigh, Luke walked back to the blanket when Dion came barreling through the seagrass toward Lexi, calling out at the top of his lungs like she might have missed his grand entrance. If he yelled any louder, he would wake up the entire estate, making the situation even harder for her.

Lexi was furiously adjusting her dress over her lovely legs, wearing a guilty expression, when Dion stopped in front of the blanket. They had merely been talking, and Lexi reacted as if Luke had bent her over a sand dune and had his way with her.

"Dion, what are you doing awake?" she asked as she fumbled for her towel.

"Not everyone goes to bed as early as you do," Dion answered, glancing from Lexi to Luke. "I guess you weren't as tired as you said you were."

"I couldn't sleep. I was too excited about the weekend." Lexi gestured toward Luke. "Dion, have you met Luke Carrington? He's a friend of Uncle Z's."

"Yes, we met briefly." Dion's lips barely opened as he squeezed out his reply. There was really no need for all this tension, and Luke seized the opportunity to turn the tide.

"I believe this chance meeting is fortunate. Lexi and I were just talking about family and how much she enjoys traveling. Why don't you join us, Dion?"

Dion grabbed the back of his neck, rubbing it vigorously. "Oh, well. It's after one o'clock, and I had come down to tell Lexi she should get to bed. There are a lot of activities planned for tomorrow. She needs to rest."

"I'll get rest tomorrow night," Lexi said, her hand clenching the towel with determination. "This is my birthday weekend, Dion, and if I want to stay up until three A.M., then that's what I'm going to do, with or without you hovering over me."

She raised her eyebrows in defiance, and Dion glanced at Luke again, giving him a not-so-subtle once over. "Well, I suppose I could hang out for a little while."

Lexi's lips curved into a frown, but she didn't argue with her brother. She didn't have to utter one syllable to convince Luke she wanted Dion to take a hike, and this brought Luke immense satisfaction. The evening would not end in a kiss as Luke had hoped, but the fierce look in Lexi's eyes told him she was going to try her damnedest to see they had another opportunity to accomplish it.

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