Her abundant, curvy, wonderful breasts.
Yep, that part of himself he’d tried to bury was alive and well, thank you very much.
If he wanted to win this contest, however, he needed to keep a clear head. He could pursue her after he’d married her, he thought with a grin. Everything would be settled—he wouldn’t need to worry about losing control of Mortimer Innovations, and he wouldn’t need to worry about being rejected on national television. He’d been publicly humiliated before. He didn’t care to repeat the experience.
Focus. First he needed to win this contest.
He decided to hang back and let Bella keep her lead for now. He bet she’d get nervous after a while, and sure enough he caught her looking back from time to time, probably wondering why he didn’t speed up and pass her by again.
Not this time, honey, he thought. This time I’m watching you. That’s right—you should be worried. What am I plotting?
Not much—unless you counted all the positions he was trying out with her in his mind. He really needed to stop thinking about that. His groin twinged. Definitely needed to stop thinking about that. He hadn’t spent as much time in the sack as a guy his age should have, but he’d spent enough to know what he liked.
And he liked Bella.
The trail climbed even more and toward noon the trees thinned out. Evan was starving by the time Bella stopped for lunch. She put down her pack and glanced back at him, tensing as he approached.
“There’s a whole mountain—can’t you eat somewhere else?”
“Don’t you want company?”
“Well, I do.” Company that would actually speak to him, not just trail after him like his camera crew did. Besides, this was the perfect occasion for him to get to know his future wife. He sat down on a rock and opened his pack, hoping the show provided decent food. He pulled out several sandwiches, some trail mix, an apple and an orange. Enough food to get by, but not very generous. He supposed it was Madelyn’s aim to keep them tired and hungry, so they’d bicker more and make mistakes.
Bella remained on her feet. So did Paul and Nita, although he thought the two of them might rebel if she didn’t sit down and eat her lunch. They must want to grab their own meal.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“Yes. I just…” She glanced around, color rising in her cheeks as she found all four crew members watching her along with him.
Aah—she heard the call of nature. “There’s toilet paper in your pack. Just find a handy tree.”
She frowned, but opened her pack and took out a plastic pouch filled with toilet paper. “Okay.” She headed reluctantly into the bushes. When she reappeared a minute or two later she wouldn’t meet his eye. Paul, Nita, Chris and Andrew had all settled down to eat but he was positive the cameras and microphones were still on.
“Seriously, Bumpkin. People piss every day; it’s no big deal,” he said.
She ignored him and looked in her pack again. She didn’t appear any more enthusiastic than he felt when she pulled out her lunch.
“Think of it as a bonus diet,” Evan said. “You may lose the show but at least you’ll get rid of those pesky last five pounds.”
“I don’t need to lose five pounds,” she said. She selected a sandwich, the apple, and the trail mix, and tucked the rest back in her bag.
Evan had to give her points for that response. Most women were so touchy about their weight they might deny needing to diet, but they would have felt very self-conscious afterwards. Bella didn’t seem bothered a bit. She ate in silence and Evan bit into his sandwich, too.
“Do you hike a lot?” he asked after a minute.
“Do a lot of camping?”
“You already asked that.”
He laughed. “Right. Girl scouts. Tell me about it.”
He could almost hear the collective groan of the camera crew—this wasn’t interesting television. How could he rile her up some and forestall a lecture from Madelyn the next time they saw her? God—what if Madelyn made them re-do the day? He could just imagine her yelling, “Cut—get back to the starting line and let’s hear more trash talk this time!” He wasn’t interested in that scenario.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
This time she did turn around. “No, I don’t.”
“Aren’t you going to ask me if I have a girlfriend?”
“I don’t care.”
“I don’t. Not a steady one, anyhow,” he amended since he didn’t want to come off like a total dork.
“You mean you have one night stands.”
Hmm, her disapproval about that idea was palpable. “Sure. Or two-night stands. Sometimes seven-night stands, even. I’m versatile.” Let her chew on that. He hadn’t even had a one-hour stand in a long, long time, though. Way too long, now that he was sitting close to Bella.
“You’re a slut.” She shot him a look. “I bet you have to pay for it, too.”
Anger surged within him. That was taking trash talk too far. And the fact that he’d entertained the idea once or twice out of pure desperation made it all the worse. “Betty, I never have to pay for sex.”
She just raised her eyebrows. “But let me guess—you do pay for dinner, entertainment, hotels, plane tickets, gifts…” She ticked the items off on her fingers. “You may not hand them hundred dollar bills at the end of the night, but you most definitely pay for sex, Moneybuns.”
Evan opened his mouth, thought a second and closed it again. She’d hit a bull’s-eye, but she’d also missed the target altogether. He didn’t date because it felt like paying for sex. The women were so sure a billionaire would lavish them with gifts that he felt compelled to do so, or ruin their good impression of him. He could never simply be with them; never know for sure if they even liked him.
He didn’t trust women.
He didn’t trust anyone, come to think of it.
Bella watched the color surge into Evan’s handsome face. Score one point for her. Was he thinking over past dates and wondering whether they’d have gone so well if he hadn’t spent so much cash? She bet guys like him never found out. They were probably so addicted to the high life they rarely ever got their credit cards back into their wallets before it was time to flash them again.