The Heat is On
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That got him another laugh. “Will you marry me?”
He knew she meant it as a joke, but something inside him shifted. If any other woman said that to him, joking or otherwise, he’d be running out the door right about now. Marriage was not something you kidded about, not in his life. As much as he loved his family, he couldn’t stand the constant smothering. Not just toward him, but to their partners. His mother and father’s marriage had been so overly loving it made him uncomfortable, and all four of his sisters were happily married, constantly gushing about their husbands. Ever since he was a kid, he’d felt uneasy around the constant shows of affection. Couldn’t really explain it, or put his finger on it, but he’d known even back then that he didn’t want that much love in his life.
Having another person know him inside and out, digging into his psyche, finishing his sentences?
It was too damn intimate, and his intimacy ended with sex.
So why didn’t Savannah’s off-hand remark scare him to death, the way it should?
The waitress arrived with their pizza before he could analyze the strange reaction. He and Savannah quickly dug in, polishing off the entire pie in no time. Afterwards, they both leaned back in their chairs, quietly sipping on their respective beers. He didn’t feel the need to fill the silence, and she didn’t seem to either. It was nice.
When she finally spoke, she caught him off guard. “Why are you single?” she asked curiously.
He shrugged. “Why are you?”
“I asked first.”
Setting down his beer bottle, he clasped his hands together on the table. “Relationships seem like too much trouble,” he admitted.
“I don’t like the idea of sharing my entire being with another person.”
She cast him a mischievous grin. “Commitment-phobic. I get it.”
“And you’re not scared of commitment?” he shot back.
“Nope. It just bores me.” Her gray eyes took on a faraway glint. “You know that feeling you get when you kiss someone, when you sleep with them, for the first time? That…thrill.”
“I think I’m addicted to it,” she confessed. “I’m addicted to firsts.”
“Seconds can be just a good,” he pointed out.
“Sure, but eventually the thrill goes away. So that’s when I go away.”
Matt opened his mouth to ask her if that’s what would happen with them—would she simply go away? But before he could speak, a male voice interrupted their discussion.
A thirty-something guy with messy blond hair had stopped by the railing separating the patio from the sidewalk. He wore a pair of long orange shorts and a white muscle shirt, and he was staring at Savannah as if she were his long-lost love.
“Hank,” she said in surprise. “It’s good to see you again.”
At her casual, impersonal words, Hank’s entire face fell. “Where’ve you been?” he asked, a plaintive note entering his voice. “I haven’t seen you in months.”
She shrugged. “I told you, I’m busy with the store.”
Hank’s dark eyes shifted to Matt, and a suspicious cloud floated across his face. “You don’t look busy.”
Savannah held up her legal pad. “This is a working lunch.”
“Oh.” The guy seemed to brighten slightly. “Do you have time for dinner this week?”
“Sorry, I can’t. I’m doing the flowers for a huge wedding and will be working non-stop until then.”
That got her another “Oh”. Hank fidgeted with his hands. “Okay, then. Give me a call when you’re done with the job?”
The noncommittal tone of her voice was unmistakable. Despite himself, Matt felt a pang of sympathy for the dude. He also experienced a wave of unease, watching the expression on Hank’s face. Was that how he looked when he was around Savannah? All lovelorn and pathetic?
Jeez, who was this woman? It was like a scene out of There’s Something About Mary. Did every man who met her fall head over heels for her?
“Well…I gotta go,” Hank mumbled. With an awkward wave, he strode off.
Matt fixed a rueful look at Savannah. “You could have let him down more gently.”
Irritation flickered in her gray eyes. “I did let him down gently. Four months ago. We went out a few times, and sure, he’s cute, but he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Holding a conversation with the guy was painful.”
“Did you sleep with him?” Matt couldn’t help but ask, then cringed at the possessive twinge to his voice.
“Yeah, I did.” She studied his face. “Oh brother. You’re jealous.”
“I’m not jealous,” he protested instantly.
She laughed. “Oh yes you are.” Her irritation returned, only this time, it was directed at him. “Don’t go all crazy on me, Matt. I’m sure you’ve slept with dozens of women, and I’m not the least bit jealous about it.”
Which bothered him almost as much as his sudden encounter with the green-eyed monster. He got the feeling Savannah wouldn’t even bat an eyelash if he ended things between them right here and now. He wasn’t sure if her borderline-scary casual attitude was legit, or simply a cover for serious commitment issues she refused to admit to. He decided to believe the latter—only way to preserve his ego, after all.