Neil was completely oblivious as he finished putting up the tent before placing our backpacks and sleeping bags inside.
Several yards away, everyone else was still setting up their tents when Neil had finished. I was impressed. He came and sat down next to me, his breathing a little laboured as he grabbed the water bottle from my hand and took a long gulp.
I was momentarily transfixed by the fact that his lips were pressed where my lips had been seconds ago. A pleasant shiver trickled down my spine as I watched his throat bob while he swallowed.
“Thirsty work?” I asked as he placed the empty bottle on the ground.
“Yes. It wouldn’t have been if I were a little more fit.”
I disagreed with his statement since Neil was fit as a fiddle from what I could see. There didn’t seem to be an ounce of fat on him. Granted, I’d never seen him topless, but from the few brief times we’d hugged or been physically close, I could feel that he was muscular. Not in an overt way, but he was definitely in good shape.
“Do you ever work out at the gym with the cast of Running on Air?” I asked him.
“I do. Michaela and I often use the treadmills and the weights, but we don’t go anywhere near the ramps or jumping walls.”
“If you work out, then you must be fit enough. You certainly look it,” I said, my gaze wandering over his chest and down to his trim waist.
“Thanks,” he said then, seeming pleased with the compliment. “What about you?”
“If you’re asking if I work out, the answer is no, but I do go on lots of long walks. And since I don’t drive, I typically have to carry my groceries all the way home, so that kind of counts as lifting weights, right?”
Neil chuckled. “I can’t see how it’s much different,” he agreed.
I sighed. “I should probably think about starting more regular exercise, though. The women in my family tend to pile on weight after they turn thirty. I’m only twenty-five, and I’ve already started to gain.”
Neil looked like he disagreed. “I think you look great just as you are.”
At this, I shot him a grin. “Are you flirting with me?”
I expected him to deny it. Instead, he ran his eyes over me, “Maybe I am.”
His gaze met mine, and he didn’t look away. My chest began to flutter as I shoved him lightly on the shoulder. “Oh, my God, stop that.”
He tilted his head. “Stop what?”
“Stop staring at me with those eyes. You’re making me come over all peculiar.”
He didn’t reply. Instead, his attention dipped to my mouth before coming back up. He reached out to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear, and I inhaled sharply. “Afric,” he breathed.
“Hey, do either of you want a drink?” came a voice, and I looked up to see Adam approaching us. I frowned in annoyance. Seriously, I was so mad at him for interrupting. I needed to know what Neil had been about to say more than I needed my next breath.
“Um, sure, I’ll take one,” Neil replied before glancing at me.
“I’ll take one, too,” I said, my voice coming out a bit huffy.
Adam nodded, his expression curious as he looked between the two of us.
“Be right back,” he said, and I returned my attention to Neil.
“You were saying?”
His brow furrowed. “I was saying … Eh, what was I saying? Right, I was going to say that if you want, you can always come to the gym and work out with Michaela and me. Though, like I said, I don’t think you need to lose any weight. You’re perfect.”
I suspected that wasn’t what he’d been going to say, but I let him off the hook, especially given that last part. He thought I was perfect? My heart didn’t know what to do with that information.
I lifted my eyebrows at him, my pulse pounding. “Perfect?”
His stare was heated. “I’m sure you’re aware you have a body that could launch a thousand ships.”
A thousand ships? I was officially swooning again.
“What about my face, though?” I asked, veritably preening.
“Quit fishing for more compliments,” he chided playfully, falling quiet a moment as he eyed me intensely, “But, yeah, your face is pretty spectacular, too.”
I stared at him, not knowing what to say, and then Adam was back with our drinks. Bloody Adam! King of the poorly timed interruption. “Here you go. I hope you like Bud. I consider it piss water myself, but I made the mistake of letting Steve bring the drinks,” he said, shooting an irritable glance over at a skinny, long-haired guy who was still trying to wrangle one of the tents.
“This is fine,” I replied, taking the proffered can while Neil did the same. I could barely focus on Adam because Neil’s voice kept replaying in my head.