Sarah used her peripheral vision to give the man next to her another once over.
And what a gift.
So what if the last ten women who accepted his offer to stay are buried in the back field? Note to self: check back field for mounds. This is what I asked for, dreamed of, came out here determined not to leave without: an adventure.
Schooling her features, she hoped she didn’t appear psychotically excited by her decision. “One night.” She held her breath and waited for his response to her surrender. Their eyes met and held for a moment, charging the air between them. She leaned toward him, her eyes half closed in anticipation of his kiss.
“You should go answer that,” Tony said abruptly.
Sarah’s eyes shot open. Still in a bit of a daze, she asked, “Answer what?”
“The phone,” Tony said, a glint of humor lighting his eyes. “I don’t get many calls. It’s probably your friend.”
“Oh,” she said. Damn. “Thanks.” She tried, but failed, to sound happy about it.
If that’s Lucy now, she has the world’s worst timing.
Thanks for nothing, Lucy.
You never really get the apology you imagine you’re owed.
Sarah listened to Lucy’s long explanation about why she’d been away from home and had turned her cell phone off: last-minute errands; her brother needed her help with something. The whole story sounded a bit contrived, and Lucy’s contriteness was sadly lacking. You don’t let a friend drive for three days, then play hide-and-seek with them on the day they arrive.
Lucy said, “Things have just been crazy here these last few days. I should have called you and told you now isn’t a good time to come, but I didn’t know how to say it.”
Well, this is awkward.
She continued, “Of course, I can’t wait to see you. You could probably stay through the weekend, but after that, I don’t know. My brother changed his mind about having someone here for the summer.”
Because why not drive cross-country with your horse for a weekend?
Sarah opened her mouth to tell her friend just what she thought of her when a thought struck her. Things happen for a reason, and a woman could find herself stranded in worse places. “I’m settled in here for the night, Lucy. I’m fine.”
Lucy said, “I didn’t realize you had other friends in the area.”
“I didn’t know it myself until today.”
“Then this all worked out for the best, I guess. How long do you think you’ll stay there?” Lucy asked, her relief obvious.
Until Mr. Sexy Cowboy has me physically removed from his property or I wake up, realize how insane this all is, and leave while I still have some dignity.
“I’m not sure,” Sarah said vaguely.
“Hopefully we can get together before you leave.”
Still irritated with Lucy, Sarah thought, A few hours ago, I would have jumped at the chance to see you, but I’ve kind of moved on. “Sure.”
After replacing the headset on the cradle, Sarah smiled all the way to her vehicle. Something inside her clicked into place and she felt inspired. She dug through her oversized purse for her notebook. She’d gone from having nothing to write about to not knowing how to start recording everything she didn’t want to forget about this trip. A story was already forming in her mind, tickling her imagination. A contemporary romance—a sexy one. She jotted in her notebook: Strong heroine who is willing to take risks. She yearns for something or someone she can’t have.
Yearns. Sarah underlined the word twice. That’s a good place to start.
“Was that your friend on the phone?” Tony asked from beside her. Sarah let out a yelp of surprise and dropped her notebook at his feet. He reached for it, but she snatched it off the ground, closing it quickly and clasping it to her chest, hopefully before he saw the first page.
Because nothing says “I’m normal” like a list of questions regarding men’s grooming practices of their genitalia.
“Yes,” Sarah said, the word catching in her throat a bit.
Tony scowled down at her and nodded at her notebook. “You jotting down the directions before you forget them?”
Looks like this conversation is going to happen at the corner of Awkward and Embarrassing. “Not exactly.” She cleared her throat. “My friend changed her mind about wanting me to visit.”
Those green eyes bored into hers. He drawled, “Doesn’t sound like much of a friend.”
“You think?” Sarah snapped sarcastically, letting her nerves momentarily get the best of her. Calm down. None of this is his fault. “Sorry. I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long day.”
In the quiet that followed, Sarah tried telepathy. See, this is where you could use an incredibly sexy bedroom voice to tell me not to worry since you have more than enough room for me. Lean in again, and I’ll know having me here will be torture for you because you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to keep your hands off me while I’m sleeping right down the hall.
His expression remained unreadable.
Screw telepathy. Sarah snapped, “You could at least tell me that I’m welcome to stay here tonight.”
“I said that earlier,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. He opened the rear door of her SUV, pulled out her suitcases, and started walking to the house. When she didn’t follow, he stopped, half-turned, and gruffly said, “Come on.”
Sarah fought the urge to stomp her foot in frustration. Oh yes, the fictitious you will be tormented with desire for me. She sighed and followed him onto the porch. When he stopped at the door and held it open with his back, allowing her to pass through, she narrowed her eyes at him and imagined how the retelling of this night would go when she met with her friends back home.
Were you worried about staying at a stranger’s house your first night in Texas?
Not concerned that he might try to take advantage of you?
Sarah gurgled on a laugh as she followed him up the staircase and down a narrow hallway. Are you kidding? I bet he locks his bedroom door tonight.
Tony turned and frowned as if her amusement annoyed him. He opened the door to a small guest bedroom and placed her luggage beside the white wrought-iron twin bed that boasted a surprisingly delicate flowered quilt atop it.
“You need anything?” he asked in a tone that implied he’d prefer if she didn’t.
If you only knew.
Or maybe you do and you’re not interested.