“Still hate when you don’t get your way,” Carver said with a smirk.
Lina frowned. “Still think you know every damn thing.” Accepting his proposition to model for the photo shoot wasn’t going very well.
She marched over to stand in front of the desk, because, yes, once RJ agreed she should model for the ad, she felt compelled to at least give it a try. RJ wasn’t only her godbrother, he was also her mentor, but he would never insist she do something she didn’t want to do. Receiving the opportunity to work at RGF six years ago when she was fresh out of college and accepting the responsibilities she now had at the company were blessings. The fact that her mother and RJ’s mother, Marva Gold, were sorority sisters—who acted more like blood-born sisters—helped as well. Lina would do whatever it took to continue to prove herself worthy of the chance the Golds had taken on her.
“I know you’re lookin’ really good. That tells me life’s been treating you well.” Carver lifted the camera and snapped a picture before she was ready.
Having a professional photographer compliment her made her feel empowered, sexy, alluring. All involuntarily, of course, because she wasn’t supposed to be attracted to him. She was simply supposed to work with him.
Realizing that, she put a hand on her hip, spread her legs a little and gave him a brilliant smile. He snapped a couple pictures. “That says I’ve been treating me well,” she corrected him and then leaned a hip against the desk to give him another pose.
“Okay,” he said, turning his camera sideways and coming in to get a closer shot. “Well, I thank you for that.” He grinned and snapped the picture. “I thank you very much.”
She couldn’t help but smile in return as she stared down at him. He looked and sounded just as devilishly playful as he always had, and for an instant, she wondered what might’ve happened if she’d accepted his offer to go to the senior prom. Of course, she hadn’t, and not because she was captain of the cheerleading squad and Carver was the head of the yearbook committee. She wasn’t really into those class-type prejudices like so many in the small town of Temptation, Virginia, where they’d grown up. But she’d already had a date—Lenny, her sometimes boyfriend who’d been trying to prove to her that their relationship was meant to last. Catching Lenny in the hallway the night of the prom with his lips on Miranda’s—co-captain of the cheerleaders—had proved his point spectacularly.
Carver had been there the moment she’d turned around, tears brimming in her eyes, heart hammering so loud she’d barely heard him speak. You look perfect tonight. Can I have this dance?
She’d wanted to scream no and leave, but she’d known exactly what he was trying to do, and she’d appreciated it more than he would ever know. Dancing with Carver that night had sparked something she hadn’t been prepared to address.
Looking at Carver now still made her heart skip a beat, and that, she realized with a nervous laugh, she still wasn’t ready for.
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