But even if she was in love, it didn’t change anything. It didn’t mean she wanted to get married. Marriages seemed to ruin good relationships. Maybe it was marriage, not love, that was the real problem.
As Natalie turned to look at him, she realized he had an expectant expression on his face. “What?” she asked.
“I just complimented you on your large collection of classic country vinyl albums,” he said, gesturing toward the shelf with her stereo and turntable.
Natalie glanced over at her albums and nodded. “My father bought a lot of them for me,” she said. “We used to go to thrift stores looking for old records on Saturday afternoons.”
“I mentioned it twice before you heard a word I said.” Colin chuckled softly. “You’re on another planet tonight, aren’t you?”
“I am. I’m sorry.” Natalie racked her brain for a way to distract him. She certainly wasn’t going to tell him how she was feeling. Running her gaze over his sharply tailored suit, she decided to fall back on her earlier distraction tactic—seduction. She wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up at him. “Have I told you just how handsome you look tonight?”
He smiled, all traces of concern disappearing as he looked down at her adoringly. “Not in the last hour or so.”
“Well, you do,” she said, slipping her hands into his back pockets to grab two solid handfuls of him. “It’s enough to make a girl want to throw the bet so she can experience that amazing kiss you’ve promised.”
Colin shook his head. “There’s no throwing the bet. You either shed your humbug ways or you don’t. Either way, I’m not giving up until you’ve been converted. I don’t care how long it takes.”
“Even after I’ve won?” she asked.
“You bet. I think Christmas in Buenos Aires will be lovely, and I’ll see to it that it is.”
Natalie laughed. “You’re inviting yourself to my vacation prize? I don’t recall asking for company.”
“I don’t recall asking permission. I am paying for the trip, after all.”
Natalie twisted her lips in thought. She was both thrilled and terrified by the idea of Colin still being in her life a year from now. She was so confused about all of this, she didn’t know what to do. “So if I win the bet, will I ever get this infamous kiss? I don’t want to miss out on it.”
Colin narrowed his gaze at her. “How about this? How about I give you a little taste of how amazing it will be right now? That should be enough to tide you over until I’ve won.”
She certainly couldn’t turn down an offer like that, especially knowing that his talented mouth and hands would distract her from everything else she was worried about. “All right,” she agreed. “Lay one on me.”
Colin shook his head at her. “Before I do that, I think we’d better adjourn to the bedroom.”
“Why is that?” Natalie asked. “It’s just a kiss.”
“You say that, but this won’t be an ordinary kiss. You’ll be glad we waited until we’re in there, I promise.”
“Okay.” She wasn’t sure if he could deliver on the hype, but she was looking forward to finding out. Taking his hand, she led him up the stairs and down the hallway to her master bedroom.
Her bedroom had been what sold her on the townhouse. The master was spacious with large windows that let in the morning light. Even filled with her furniture, there was plenty of room to move around. “All right,” she said, standing beside the bed with her hands on her hips. “Let’s get a sampling of this infamous kiss of yours.”
Colin moved closer and Natalie couldn’t help but tense up. She didn’t know what to expect. This wasn’t even the kiss and she was nervous with anticipation.
“You look like I’m about to eat you alive,” he said with an amused smile.
“Sorry,” she said, trying to shake the tension out of her arms.
“That’s okay.” He stopped in front of her, just shy of touching. Instead of leaning in to kiss her, he turned her around and undid the zipper of her dress. He eased it off her shoulders, letting it pool to the floor.
“What are you doing?” she asked, curiously. What kind of kiss required her to be naked?
Leaning in, Colin growled in her ear, “I’m about to eat you alive.”
Natalie gasped at the harsh intensity of his words, even as a thrill of need ran through her body. Before she could respond, he unclasped her bra and pulled her panties to the floor. Completely naked, she turned around to complain about the unfairness, but found he was busily ridding himself of his clothing as well. In a few moments, it was all tossed aside and he pulled her close.