Chapter Fourteen

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I ended up being grateful for Colin's presence, at least initially.

For one thing, I needed someone to hold all my shopping bags. I hadn't bought so much in-person since my early days of success, back when I was enthralled by the money I'd made on my own. In recent years, I'd adopted a more minimalist style and my assistant did all of the shopping for me; I'd pick things out online, and they'd bring boxes to my estate. Or designers would send me samples.

Colin took my spree in stride, holding each new bag with a growing sense of amusement.

While we were in a shoe boutique, he stepped outside to take a phone call, and I stayed to scrutinize a pair of tan, furry boots. I bought two pairs, one for me and one for my sister.

Hey, sometimes it gets cold in Florida.

When he ambled back into the store, I handed him a giant paper bag with a twine handle.

"We're going to need bathing suits," he said. "Let's get those and then we'll have lunch."

I shot him a glance and wrapped the pashmina around my shoulders tighter. I was wearing my clothes from the day before and couldn't wait to get back to the condo to shower (again) and change. "Do they even sell bathing suits in Iceland? Even though it's June, it's fairly chilly. And why do we need them?"

"I'm sure they do sell them. And that's a surprise for later." Colin turned to the pretty young clerk and asked where we could find suits. In flawless English, she pointed down the street and grinned.

"Going to Blue Lagoon?" she asked him.

"Something like that." He winked at her and I rolled my eyes.

"I'm jealous." The woman looked at him through her long lashes.

I stood at the door, watching this exchange. Colin wasn't overly flirtatious, but he was just coy enough to inspire a certain desperation in women. I'd watched the way the shop clerks and other women had reacted to him. They seemed to respond to his devastating combination of boyish charm and rakish humor.

Hardly a surprise. He was handsome and moved through the world like a man who was in command of everything. He was damned sexy, truth be told, and I reminded myself for the millionth time to steer clear of him. I didn't need a repeat of a man who would disappoint me.

"Blue Lagoon?" I muttered as we walked down a cobblestone street.

"We're not going there." He shifted the three bags into one hand. "Do you like salmon?"

I ignored his question. "Then why do we need bathing suits?"

He stopped in the middle of the street and grinned. He wore dark Ray-Bans and I couldn't see his eyes, but his smile, all those white teeth, made my heart skitter.

"I'd prefer to stay at the condo," I added. "And we could get some lunch to go and eat there."

He shook his head. "Nope. My friend told me this place is a must-see, and I want company. And salmon, right now, in a proper restaurant."

"I'm sure you can find plenty of company for both," I retorted, side-eyeing the last store we were in. I started walking.

Colin chuckled as he caught up to me. "I'm sure I could, too, but I'd prefer your company."

I glanced at him. "Why?"

"Because you're intriguing. I haven't taken such an intriguing woman on a date in forever."

"Intriguing. You mean eccentric."

"Yes. Both."

"That's a ringing endorsement. And a date? You don't even know if I'm single."

"I do know. It was in that Vogue article. You're divorced. And I like both intriguing and eccentric."

"Hmm." I scowled. "Well, I'm older than you."

"You are not."

I stopped and smirked. "I just turned forty-five four days ago." My birthday, which I'd celebrated with a few friends at home, seemed eons ago.

He stared at me, the sides of his mouth quirking. "Good. I also like older women."

"Yeah, right. Men like you love women who are young, willing, and interested in an older man's money. Not a woman who has her own life and her own bank account. Unless you're looking for a bailout for your business, of course. Then I'm probably quite a good catch."

The only men interested in me were either elderly or younger—and all were usually interested in my money.

He scowled. "Why must you be so cynical? I have no interest in your money and no need for it. And I do like older women. I despise the cult of youth. Generally, I try not to date women under thirty-five. At least, back when I was dating. And now's no different."

I allowed my eyes to relax. If he was telling the truth, it meant he was a different man than I'd met in a long time. And what did he mean by "back when he was dating"?

"Regardless, Samantha, I'm certain you have no trouble attracting men of any age." He reached up with his hand and brushed a loop of curls away from my face, which sent a rush of warmth through my veins. I shivered from his slight touch.

"How's the bump on your forehead?"

I rolled my eyes.

"You look younger than forty-five. Is that what you want to hear? There's something girlish about you. Big eyes, pre-Raphaelite hair—"

I interrupted his platitudes. "How old are you?" Now I was smiling.

"Thirty-nine. You're beautiful when you smile and when you scowl. You know that?"

I groaned. Six years younger. A boy. Normally I didn't like younger men. My ex had been two years younger, and I'd sworn I'd never date a younger man again. "Don't patronize me. So this is a date tonight?"

"It is."

"Hmm. But—"

Colin interrupted. "Why are you asking so many questions? Why don't you go with the flow? We're stuck here, so let me treat you to something different. Something exciting. Unless you want to wander through there. That could be exciting, too."

Grinning, he pointed across the street. My eyes landed on a sign, and I read the words out loud.

"Icelandic Phallological Museum."

My eyes widened. A museum filled with penises? What was going on in this country?

"What the hell?" I whispered. My breath immediately hitched because an image of my hand, Colin's cock, and the previous night popped into my head.

I could feel the ridges of my cheekbones get hot. I glanced at Colin.

"Could be interesting." Colin looked at me in the exact way he'd stared at me when he'd turned on the light in the bedroom the night before: amused, lusty, and irresistible.

"Let's get lunch," I said hurriedly.

He chuckled and took my hand, looping it through the crook of his arm. We continued walking. The bright sunshine, the idea of an entire museum devoted to cocks, and the warmth of his body made me perspire. His voice interrupted my scattered thoughts.

"After we get the salmon, let's also double back to that ice cream stand. I saw you coveting one of those when we walked by."

How had he noticed that? I normally watched everything I ate carefully, but that chocolate-dipped ice cream—even in this cold weather—looked delicious.

I inhaled and narrowed my eyes and fought the panic rising in my chest.

Something exciting was precisely what I was afraid of.

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