Garret got out the first aid kit and sat beside Lilou. “You haven’t taken off your boots,” he said. “How are your feet?” “Fine.” Her chin lifted and she tossed her hair back. “My BS meter is too finely tuned to be tricked by New Yorkers, and my temper has been tested enough already this morning,” he said. “Show me.” “Everyone is already mad at me,” Lilou said in a low voice. “I don’t need them putting me down because of my blisters, too.” “No one is going to put you down.” If they did, they’d have to answer to him. Garrett didn’t know why Lilou had agreed to come on this trip but now that she was here, he planned to make it memorable for her. His business was riding on it. More than that, his passion was to share his love for the wilderness with all comers. Converting a city slicker would be even more satisfying than giving an already established outdoorsman a great experience. When she still hesitated, he added, also in a low voice, “Don’t be a spoiled brat. If you don’t take them off, I’ll take them off for you.” There was nothing erotic about either his words or his intention but he felt the heat rise in himself even before it flared in her eyes. With almost comical haste, she began unlacing her boots as if afraid of what might happen if they got into a physical tussle. When she’d peeled off her socks he swiveled on the log and picked up her foot. Her nails were painted a dark green, to go with the forest, he presumed, and her heels were smooth as if from a recent pedicure. He counted four spots where her boots were rubbing. Three were red, one was already starting to form a blister. He touched it and she winced. “Looks like we caught these just in time.” Getting out the first aid kit, he cleaned each reddened area with an alcohol pad, swabbed benzoin around the area and then applied moleskin pads. “You’ve done this before,” she said. “I’ve had my share of blisters.” “Even though you’re a pro?” He gave her a wry glance and set her foot back on the ground. “Whenever we stop for lunch take your boots off and let your feet and socks dry out. If you develop any more sore spots, let me know and we’ll attend to them right away. Okay?” “Okay.” She paused. “Thanks.” Cautiously, he met her gaze, almost afraid of his own reaction. There was nothing in her eyes but gratitude. Not only for the bandages but for allowing her to keep her dog with her, and for not chewing her out in front of the others. Garrett didn’t want gratitude, he wanted her to not be a problem. He wanted himself to not be attracted to her. Rising, he said, “No big deal.” However, the look that had passed between them on the trail, and just now while he was holding her foot, was a big deal. He could ignore it all he wanted but there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening again.