She felt stupid as a warm tear slid down her face. Darn! She reached for a paper towel as she tried to stifle a sob.
“Are you okay?” The accented voice came from behind her.
She jumped, startled by the sound. She had forgotten she wasn’t alone in the house. She rushed to recover enough to respond, but it wasn’t easy to stifle the pain from her memories. She felt strong arms envelope her.
“Shhh, what’s wrong, London?”
It was the first time that she’d heard him actually say her name and the thrill that danced along her spine was purely involuntary. She couldn’t explain why she turned into his shoulder. She only knew in that moment it was where she needed to be. The tears came easily and the ache from her heart, though surprising, lamented things she hadn’t thought of in years. And there was no doubt the house, Edwina and Gianni’s aunt’s house had led to it.
Suddenly, she pushed against his chest. It was only then that she realized it was bare. Her hands had come in contact with the fine hair that sprinkled across it. She felt heat begin to creep up her face.
“I uh, I’m so sorry that you, um had to see me like this. I was just remembering something. But I’m better now. Thanks,” she gushed.
“I’m so sorry that you are feeling such heartache. Is it a man?”
“A…man? Um, no. Definitely not. No, it was a childhood memory. And anyway, it doesn’t matter now.” She turned away from him and went to flip on the kitchen light. She was immediately regretful. He stood before her in navy pajamas pants and nothing else. Bare chested and bare foot, he was the epitome of sexiness. She slowly let her eyes travel up his body until they connected with his brooding ones. Her heart skipped a beat and she swallowed. Did he notice that? She wondered before she concluded Stevie Wonder could probably have seen and heard that swallow.
“Well I guess I’d better turn in,” she said finally.
“Really?” He tilted his head while he smoothed his fingers over his chin.
“I guess I never figured you to be so skittish a woman.
She looked down at the floor, the corners of her mouth lifting against her wishes. “Wow! I’ve never been called skittish before.”
“Maybe you’ve never met a man like me before?” He walked slowly toward her and it took everything in her not to step back.
She jutted her chin forward and glared. “Maybe I’m not running. Maybe I just choose to walk away. It could be you’re not my type. Has that not occurred to you?”
“Nope. You’re awfully good at throwing out these one word replies.”
“There are a few things in this life that…I am, let’s say, a connoisseur of—women is one of those. I am very familiar with women. I notice everything about them. The way the eyes soften with attraction. The way the pulse leaps on the side of the neck. The soft …feminine scent that is un-de-ni-able.”
She wondered if he meant to drag that last word out like that or if it was his accent playing against the vowels. In any event, she couldn’t deny it was having an effect on her and the last thing she was going to do was concede in this moment to him.
“I think someone is having delusions of grandeur. However, I am exhausted and don’t have time to stand here and continue to debate this with you. Be sure to get the lights on the way out.” She retorted as she slid past him and forced her gait into a slow and deliberate one. She restrained the impulse turn to look over her shoulder. But she didn’t have to. She could feel his gaze on her like the caress of an old lover.