Becca looked as mortified as she had all those years ago. But he saw her take in a breath. “It was a long time ago.”
Yeah, but that wasn’t answering the question. He watched the way she was studiously pushing her salad around her plate and avoiding his eyes.
He ditched his fork. “Why didn’t you tell me at the time?”
It would have saved him a lot of heartache. More than he’d ever been willing to admit.
“Like I’d do that?” She laughed. Then she too ditched her fork. “I know I handled it badly. But I was so stunned. And so shy.”
Shy. Not the snobby ice princess. Not icy at all. He’d always wondered, now he knew. Becca Wolfe was nothing but heat.
“You ran away.”
“I was always sorry about that,” she said so softly she wasn’t sure he heard.
He sat back, not quite ready to admit to how much it had pierced him. “It was okay.”
“No,” she said. “I wasn’t sorry for you. I was sorry for me.”
In less than a second, that tiny shard of glass that had been digging in his side for the last seven years melted away.
“I know it didn’t bother you,” Becca said with slight heat. “You were surrounded by beautiful girls all the time. You constantly dated.”
He’d only flirted with the other girls when she’d been present. It had been a teen pride thing. And then she’d moved on and he’d gone to develop the next café. He’d gotten lost in his business and only recently come up for air. “It was part of my job.”
“Oh, right,” she nodded sarcastically. “Flirting. Always part of the job description.”
“And squeezing the trigger on the energy soda didn’t involve flirting?”
She pouted at him and he laughed, enjoying her little sarcastic bite.
He’d been wrong about the reasons for her rejection then. What else had he gotten wrong about her?
Many things, actually.
She wasn’t quiet. And not just in bed. In a one on one situation, the woman was talkative. And she laughed.
But the thing he was most wrong about? That this could ever be over in just one night. Yup. Definitely wrong about that.
Except even as he watched, he could see the islands in the distance. Becca was going to be stepping ashore way too soon.
“Would you have gone out with me if it weren’t for Tess?”
She knew she should never have admitted that. The way his face had gone so expressionless? He’d sat so rigid in that chair, she’d started to worry that she’d really offended him. But the only way through this now was with honesty. She owed him that.
“You tempted me,” she admitted. “But you scared me.”
His brows shot up. “What, you thought I was borderline criminal or something?”
She rolled her eyes. “I was a lot less experienced than you back then. In many things.”
“In everything?” He drew in a breath as the penny dropped. “So I’d have been your first.”
She swallowed. “Mmm-hmmm.” And she didn’t think she could have handled him then. Better now.
But his frown grew. “I wouldn’t have treated you badly.” He looked grumpier. “I wouldn’t have just used you. Hell, if I’d known I might not even have—”
“It wasn’t so much you who scared me. It was me. I wasn’t used to that kind of intensity.”
He paused. His eyes widened. “What, like sexual intensity?”
“Awareness. I guess. Yeah.”
“You were that hot for me?” He walked up to her with a pleased smile quirking his perennially kissable lips.
“As so many were and so many will be,” she said irritated.
He chuckled, pulling her close despite her stiff resistance. “You’ve made me feel a whole lot better.” He kissed her neck.
“Rot. I bet you’d never thought of it until you saw me on the beach the other day.”
“Not so. You crushed me more than you realize.”
She laughed. “Did not.”
Her little laugh died in her throat as he nuzzled her shoulders.
“I thought you thought I wasn’t good enough for you,” he said, then nipped her neck with his teeth.
Now her smile died, too. She fisted his shirt and tugged on it to make him look up. “I’d never think that.”
“So I know now. But at the time you stoked a little fire in my belly. Really, your appalled refusal was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Oh,” she shrugged, hiding the odd stab of hurt his words dealt. “Glad to have been of service.”
She didn’t like him thinking badly of her for all these years. Didn’t like anyone thinking badly of her. But then she’d always been a pleaser, trying to impress those closest to her. Molding herself into some kind of incarnation that would please them best. And in the process, she’d lost herself.
That was the whole point of this trip—to take a break. Find herself? It sounded so hippy and self-indulgent. But it was necessary. Because she wanted the strength to be able to go home and do what she really wanted to do—and all her family and friend’s well-intentioned guidance be blown.
So she didn’t want to care too much about what Levi thought of her. Didn’t want to delve deeper into the past—to what might have been. She had to push him back, even as she kissed him. “When do we get to Naxos—tomorrow?”
“Should do,” he said. “Depending on how the sailing goes.”
Good. That gave her just one more day of freedom and fantasy. She could remember that this all-pervading joy wasn’t really real, right?