The Heat is On
Page 5

 Elle Kennedy

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A two-story corner shop came into view. Hanging on the storefront was a big purple sign that read Harte to Harte Flowers. He rolled his eyes. How cute.
“Besides,” Annabelle said as she executed an unbelievably impressive parallel parking job across the street from the shop, “you don’t know, maybe you’ll run into her again. If you’re meant to, you will. Fate makes things happen.”
“I don’t believe in fate.”
“You should.” She grinned. “I mean, look at me and Ryan. He slid into my bed in the middle of the night thinking I was someone else, and now we’re in love. Fate.”
“Luck,” he corrected.
“Stop being such a Negative Nancy.” She killed the engine and yanked up the parking brake. “All you have to do is snap your fingers and you can get laid. Why don’t you call up your new BFF Aidan and set up a pub crawl or something, you know, have a three-way or fourgy or whatever it is you guys do.”
“He’s not my BFF,” Matt grumbled. “We just hang out sometimes.”
Because all my friends are in love, he wanted to add, but didn’t because he knew Annabelle would just accuse him of being jealous. He wasn’t, though. He was happy for his friends, he truly was, but their no-longer-single status made it hard for Matt to find a wingman for a night on the town. A few months ago he’d gone for beers with Aidan Rhodes, who worked in Naval Intelligence out on the base, and the two men had instantly hit it off. Aidan was a couple of years younger, and like Matt, was always up for a good time.
And though he wasn’t going to admit it to Annabelle, he and Aidan did have a threesome last month, with a hot redhead visiting from Kansas.
“I don’t want a fourgy,” he added with a frown. “I want some good, old-fashioned one-on-one with the hot blonde I met. Is that too much to ask for?”
“Stop whining. It’s unattractive.”
“That’s not what you said the night I rocked your world.”
Annabelle didn’t even have the decency to blush. Instead, she just laughed again. “You rocked my body. There’s a difference.”
Was there? He always felt oddly uncomfortable when Annabelle, or any of his friends, for that matter, tried to explain what love felt like. Sure, he loved people—his mom, Nana O’Connor, his four older sisters. But love love? He had no clue how that felt. If he weren’t constantly surrounded by happy couples, he wouldn’t even believe it existed.
He and Annabelle got out of the car and headed for the door of the flower shop. He walked ahead, opening the door for his friend’s girlfriend like the southern gentleman he was. A bell chimed as they entered the store, and almost immediately, the heady and powerful scent of flowers filled his nostrils. He breathed it in, reminded of the yard in his mom’s Nashville house. The O’Connor women loved to garden.
His gaze took in the elaborate arrangements and baskets of fresh-smelling flowers practically overflowing the shop’s small space.
“So pretty,” Annabelle murmured as she admired a vase containing bright yellow tulips intermingled with curly white willow and white shasta daisies. That he knew the kind of daisies they were boggled the mind. Apparently he’d picked up some gardening knowledge over the years without knowing it.
The sound of footsteps came from behind a green curtain separating another doorway from the main room. “I’ll be right with you!” a muffled feminine voice chirped from back there.
“I like this place,” Annabelle whispered to him. “It’s the perfect combination of charm and elegance. Think Holly will like it?”
“How the hell would I know?” he mumbled back. “This is why you should have brought Holly and not me.”
“Holly was busy. And you’re my friend. Friends do this kind of stuff for each other.”
He pretended to brood, but he wasn’t annoyed that Annabelle had dragged him along on her errands. He liked spending time with her, and he was actually proud of her for what she was trying to accomplish. She’d left behind a successful job at one of the top event planning firms in San Francisco just so she could be with Ryan, and Matt fully supported this new venture. Together with Carson Scott’s wife, Holly, Annabelle had started an event planning business of their own, and the two women had already planned and catered some seriously ritzy parties. Matt helped out at one of their wedding receptions, and had been floored by the results.
The footsteps from the back room grew louder. Matt swung his head toward the curtain in time to see a very familiar face.
Recognition dawned in her gray eyes at the same moment.
“Seriously?” Savannah said with a sigh.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he blurted out, “but I’m not stalking you.”
“Uh, I wasn’t thinking that. But now I am.”
A flush crept into his cheeks. His peripheral vision caught Annabelle giving him a perplexed look. Well, no kidding. He was usually way smoother than this, but yet again, Savannah brought out his inner stammer.
An awkward silence descended, which Savannah ended with an impatient frown. “Usually when someone comes into a store, they have some sort of purpose. To buy something, to ask about an item… In this case, it would be flowers.” She gestured to a vase on the counter. “Are you here to buy flowers?”
Matt was suddenly tongue-tied. Fortunately, Annabelle took pity on him and flashed Savannah a big smile. “I’m Annabelle Holmes, from Prestige Events. We spoke on the phone this morning?”