COMING FRIDAY 7 PM PST. MARIE HARTE AUTHOR OF: HANDLE WITH CARE & SMOOTH MOVES (SEE EXCERPTS)
7 PM PST. MARIE HARTE
Kenzie blew through the door, the woman always in perpetual motion. Even at the coffee shop, she’d seemed too energetic to be truly still.
“Oh good. You’re here.” She blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. “Nice car.”
“Thanks.” He couldn’t stop himself from staring at her, wondering if she’d get mad if he tucked that strand behind her ear. “Daniel’s in the garage getting the tools.”
She blinked back at him and flushed. Had he been staring too hard? Giving her an odd look? “Oh. Okay. Come on. I’ll show you the water heater.”
They walked downstairs into an airy basement.
“Wow. This place is great.” It wasn’t at all dark. Daylight streamed through several high-set windows and the walls were painted a warm, buttery yellow, accented with white built-ins and colorful pillows and throws. Facing each other in a loose triangle, three standing desks with large monitors occupied a far corner yet didn’t detract from the roominess of the space.
“It’s home, and its work.” She sighed. “I love working from home, don’t get me wrong. But I always feel guilty when I’m not at my desk.”
“I feel the same now that I’m working from a home office.” One he really needed to get organized. Though he had much less than half the workload he’d had at Peterson & Campbell, he had enough to keep an office full of paper stacks and in- and out-boxes.
She led him past a full bathroom down a dark hall toward a large closet. Inside, the water heater labored. He pulled on the chain of an overhead light inside, and she flicked on the hall light, which still didn’t illuminate much.
“Here.” She handed him a flashlight. “Daniel should be coming with those tools.”
She stood close, and Evan did his best to ignore her proximity. But it was as if his every cell was attuned to Kenzie, and he didn’t know how to handle it, having never been so attracted to anyone before. Even Rita had been a slow, steady build toward love. He’d thought her pretty, but his body hadn’t tried to turn itself inside out when near her.
There was something to be said for physical chemistry, he guessed, wondering if Kenzie felt it too.
He turned and tripped over her, of all things. “Oof.”
She stopped him from braining himself on the doorjamb, the two of them standing way too close for his peace of mind. His body started to respond, the feel of warm woman, the scent of lavender and female overriding all else.
“Oh.” Her hands spread on his chest, and she had to be feeling his racing heart. “S-sorry, I didn’t mean to get so close.”
“It’s not a problem.” Unless my heart jumps out of my chest. “Can I ask you something?” His voice sounded impossibly deep, even to him.
“Sure,” she breathed, and the scent of chocolate and mint wafted over him. His favorite combination.
“Is it just me, or are you feeling this too?” He cupped her cheek, knowing he shouldn’t but unable to stop himself. Damn. She was as soft as he’d imagined.
She drew in a breath. “This weird kind of attraction?”
He rubbed his thumb over her jawline, staring at her full lips that appeared to darken under the moving shadow of the swaying overhead light. “Yeah.”
“It is different, isn’t it?”
“Why are you whispering?” he asked as he leaned closer, intent on tasting her.
“Why are you?”
His lips ghosted the edge of her mouth. Her fingers clenched on his shirt, digging into his chest, and his body went rock-hard in an instant, a fact she couldn’t possibly miss.
“Kenzie?” Daniel’s voice grew louder as the sound of his feet on the stairs rebounded.
“Ack!” Kenzie shoved Evan back so hard he bumped his head on the doorframe.
“Sorry,” she mumbled and darted away, leaving him frustrated, aching, and annoyed with himself for starting something he couldn’t possibly finish.
Not now, and not with her brother around.
Smith left them, and Cash glared at Smith’s back until he disappeared into the office. “I hate that guy.”
“I think the feeling is mutual.” Jordan wondered why.
“Has he been bothering you?” The look in Cash’s dark-green eyes warned her the man spoiled for a fight.
“Nope. He’s easy to get along with.”
Cash seemed disappointed. “Oh.”
“And he rarely talks. We got the Jasper job done in one day. Would have been back sooner, but traffic sucked.”
He let out a long sigh. “So what’s this favor I ‘owe you’?”
“I need you to talk to my brother.” The admission she couldn’t handle her own family felt easier while looking at his chest.
She glanced up, saw his interest, the way it lit up his face, and did her best not to stare at his firm, kissable lips. Damn it. She needed to focus on the man’s irritability, not his sex appeal.
Jordan swallowed. “How about I tell you about it over dinner tonight? And before you get any weird ideas, this is in no way a date. I do not want to have sex with you. I am not flirting or leading you on in any way. This is strictly to help my brother.”
He just stared at her. Unfortunately, behind him, Reid and Smith stared at her as well.
She felt her cheeks heat and wished she could sink through the floor.
“Man, I heard that,” Smith just had to say. “She is in no way, shape, or form wants you, Cash. Not fucking at all.” Smith laughed as he walked away. His shouted “Rejected,” followed by more laughter, boomed down the corridor.
“Please tell me I can hit him,” he said to Reid.
“No. But I’m curious to hear why Jordan thinks she has to have this conversation with you,” Reid said. Jordan privately thought of him as Cash-Light. He had the same good looks but not as concentrated. Reid had a more slender build than his bulky older brother, and he had gray eyes. Not the mysterious, deep green of Cash’s. The debonair Griffith as opposed to Cash’s raw, wild bad boy.
“I’m not harassing her. Jesus, Reid.” Cash ran a hand through his hair, which caused his massive biceps to bulge. “Tell him, Jordan.”
A sucker for a pretty body more than a pretty face, Jordan felt every time she looked at Cash as if she’d been hit by a two-by-four because he possessed both. She nodded, distracted, wondering how much he could really bench-press.
“He is harassing you?” Reid asked, frowning.
“What? No, not at all.” She felt like a moron and forced herself to meet Reid’s concerned gaze. “Sorry. I meant I agreed with Cash. He’s fine. I just wanted to make sure my offer of dinner wasn’t confusing.” She wryly added, “You know your brother does better when things are laid out on the table.”
“True. Subtle he is not.”
“I’m right here,” Cash growled.
They both ignored him. “So you’re good then?” Reid asked her.
“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow. Cash, I’ll be—”
“At Naomi’s. Shocker.” Cash shrugged, but Jordan had a sense his brother’s new relationship bothered him.
Reid didn’t seem to notice. “Have a good night, you two.” He started down the corridor. “Oh, and Cash, close up for me, would you?” Reid didn’t wait for his answer as he disappeared into the stairway.
“Why not? Not like I have a life or anything,” Cash muttered as he walked into the office. “Well? You coming?”
Jordan hurried after him and helped him turn everything off and lock up. They walked down the stairs and exited the building to the parking lot. She took a moment to watch the sun hide behind some purple clouds. Orange rays penetrated the sky-blue horizon and dotted through indigo and pink clouds, painting a picture. She wished she could bask in the moment, letting go of the worries dragging her down.
But Rafi hadn’t been around for breakfast this morning, and she knew he’d avoided her on purpose. Between yesterday’s conversation and the call she’d earlier received from his school advisor, she’d come to the end of her rope. And the timing couldn’t have been better, with her brother spending the next few days at their parents’ for a change.
Cash stopped at his car and turned to her. “Your place for dinner, you said?”
“Yes. Follow me. It’s a ten-minute drive. I’ll text you the address in case you get lost.” She sent it to him before getting into her car.
He followed without too much of a hassle since the hour had passed six. Once at her place, she parked and waited for him. The apartment complex didn’t look like much on the outside, but she had a furnished, one-bedroom unit for under a thousand in rent, and the landlord seemed like a nice lady. Since Jordan was ex-military, the woman had foregone the $200 nonrefundable cleaning fee and full rental deposit.
After letting them both in, Jordan took a glance around. The addition of Rafi to her tiny apartment made life cramped, but Jordan had lived under worse conditions. The place was clean, fitted out, and, if not to her taste, at least nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet she felt a case of nerves as Cash shadowed her, his large presence impossible to ignore.
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.
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