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“Hi there,” I answer back.
The faint freckles on her nose are something I don’t remember. But the warmth of her breath whispering against my cheek makes my body come alive—need instantly floods me. Her smile gleams and I smile back. I study her. Her eyes are a liquid green that reminds me of emeralds; the color’s richer than I remember. Her red hair seems brighter than I recall it being and her curls are gone, but her mannerisms, her quirkiness, they’re all still the same.
“Need help?” one of the white-coated guys calls.
“I got it,” I yell back.
With the moment broken, we both squat to pick up the items and when we grab for the same tray our fingers touch and I feel it—electricity bolting through my body. She yanks her hand away as if electrocuted and I know she feels it too. And this time when our eyes meet, I am certain of what I see—desire. It’s then that my confusion fades and I know what I want.
• • •
Knowing what I want and getting it have usually gone hand in hand for me, but I’m not so sure that will be the case when it comes to the spitfire in front of me. Our history is sordid, maybe even tainted, but in this one moment of clarity I don’t give a shit. The attraction between us can’t be denied. And really what does it matter that we spent one night together when I was with someone else, or even that her brother is now married to that same girl? After all, two consenting adults should be able to have sex without the past being an issue.
Her fingers are shaking as she busies herself grabbing at the trays.
“I got them.” I cover up her hands with mine.
She stands quickly while I stay crouched gathering the last of the silver dishes from the ground. I’ve thought about being with her again for so long, and the attraction only grew when we worked together this past summer. And right now I’ll do whatever it takes to have her. I’m on my knees and I consider groveling, apologizing for my lack of morals when I messed around with the bride whose wedding I was reporting on and she was coordinating, but with two dudes watching over me, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever do that.
When I stand up, she tucks her hair behind her ear and my breath catches. Her face is strikingly beautiful—eyelashes longer than I’ve ever seen, wide green eyes with a look of innocence about them, ivory skin with faint freckles on her dainty nose, and full lips that I want so much to have on mine.
There’s a shift in her gaze as I stare at her and the warmth suddenly disappears. She pouts her lips and then attempts to take the trays from me.
I’m bemused by her mood swing. “Let me help you to your car.”
She turns on her heel and leaves me standing there.
My lips twitch. “I guess that’s a yes?”
She walks toward her cabriolet and clicks her key fob to open her trunk while nodding. The guys holding the larger pans are already beside the car, where they help her deposit the items.
“See you, Bell,” one says.
“Good night, Matt,” she answers.
“Night, Bell. You sure you’re okay?” the other asks.
She looks at me. “Yes. And thanks for all your help,” she calls as they both walk toward their own cars.
They seem young, yet hot for her just the same. But I can’t help wondering if the taller one is having a thing with her. The thought makes my stomach churn. Ignoring it, I set the stuff I’m holding on top of the others and close her trunk. I’m relieved that she doesn’t hurry to get in her car but instead stays where she is. My hands feel a little wet and sticky from the dishes, so I rub them together.
“I have something to clean your hands with in my backseat. Hang on,” she says, and opens her car door, pulling out a pile of black linen napkins monogrammed with a BH in the corner.
I raise an eyebrow. “Contraband?”
Her mouth falls open. “No! I grabbed what I could find quickly from the ballroom when I brought the food in. I used them to wipe up the juice from a tray that spilled on my seat on the way here. I’ll return them the next time I come.”
“Isn’t that what they all say?”
She places her hands on her hips. “I will!”
“I believe you,” I say with a grin.
She hands me one of the napkins.
“You know there’s a reward for items like those.”
Her eyes narrow. “You’re lying.”
My smile grows smug. “No, I’m not. Well, there’s a reward for seventy-five-year-old items like them. Come on, let me show you.”
“I don’t know, it’s late.”
“It’s not far, and who knows, we may even run into the ghosts who are said to haunt the place.”
I finish wiping my hands and reach for her elbow. She doesn’t flinch, so I let my fingers slide down her arm and rest on her tiny waist. Heat flares between us. “Come on. I’ll keep you safe.”
She slants me a look, her eyes settling on the position of my hands. She steps back. “This isn’t going to be like one of those Alfred Hitchcock movies, is it?”
I snort. “No, I promise.”
She shrugs. “Sure, okay, why not?”
As we walk side by side, I find that my glance keeps shifting down to her shapely legs and then up to her full br**sts. She’s such a knockout. I blink a few times rapidly to erase the images playing in my mind and ask, “You watch Hitchcock movies?”