The doorbell rang right as Jennifer
finished her drink. Her insides raced, begging her to run to the
door and drag him inside. The only thing that stopped her was her
grandmother's voice in her head telling her not to make it too easy.
She threw the door open anyway. Even stopped by the mirror in
the entry to make sure her hair wasn't sticking out in ten different
Paul smiled the instant he saw her. "Hey."
He stood there, his tawny hair only a few inches off his shoulders.
And what great shoulders they were, broad and falling to a trim
waist. The faded blue jeans and white button-down shirt showed off
the muscles he'd developed while they were apart. Whatever he had
been doing for the last few years included a lot of activity because
she couldn't see an inch of fat on him.
"You weren't expecting someone else?"
"How are you?" She wanted to say so much but only a
lame bit of nonsense came out.
"At the moment?" His gaze did a quick tour of her face.
"Pretty damn good."
Her hand tightened on the side of the door where she leaned against
it. "I was hoping you'd finally come here."
Heat rushed to her cheeks. She knew without looking she was blushing,
and not from embarrassment. No, it came from the excitement ramping
up inside of her. From the realization that after all the time that
had passed, Paul still had the power to make her stomach flip flop
and her knees turn to mush.
His eyebrow lifted. "Any chance I can come inside?"
She waved her hand in front of her face. "Of course."
For her, the question had really always been whether she'd ever
be able to let him leave if she needed room. Seeing him now brought
back a rush of desire and longing. The want mixed with the deep
sense of coming home.
She pushed it all out of her mind and tried to concentrate on
the now. "It just so happens I'm alone this weekend."
He shot her one of those sexy you're-all-mine grins she remembered
so well. "Now, isn't that convenient?"
"I'm sure you didn't have anything to do with Ted and Heather
disappearing for a few days."
"I'd love to talk about that..." Paul leaned in, throwing
a quick glance at her death grip on the door. "If you'll let
me come inside."
What was wrong with her? Jennifer shook her head and stepped back.
"You're not alone. I feel it, too."
He slid inside and closed the door behind him. "It's like
I'm ten seconds away from breaking into a million pieces."
"But yet I'm not afraid," she said.
"Didn't think you were."
"I'm not sure what's happening or why I'm acting like I've
lost my mind." She wasn't sure she liked the vulnerable feeling
either, but she didn't fight it for now.
He crowded in, bringing his head close enough for their noses
to touch. "If I don't kiss you soon, my head will explode."
Like that she stopped shifting her weight from foot to foot and
the awkwardness fled. "Well, we can't have that."
"Thank God." He closed the few inches separating them.
She threw her arms around his shoulders and plunged her fingers
through his hair. The utter rightness of holding him flooded through
her. He smelled like the woods after a rain.
The years passed into nothing and all that mattered was the feel
of his strong hands on her back and his chest pressing against her
breasts. When his mouth covered hers, all resistance melted. Lips
slanted and taunted. His tongue dipped inside and the kiss pulled
After a few minutes of hot mouths and wandering hands, he raised
his head. "That's quite a greeting."
"The Duchess trained me to be a good host."
"Always liked your grandmother."
"She told me you were dashing."
His smile grew impossibly wide. "I get that all the time.
All the grandmothers think I'm hot."
"I'm not responding to that." Jennifer's fingertips
traced the outline of his mouth as he joked. "It took you long
enough to get here."
"I had to finalize some things."
"You hang up a phone, you grab a toothbrush and get in your
car. How hard is that?" She tried to keep her tone light even
though it ticked her off that he could stay away after all those
calls. She hadn't shared the same sense of restraint.
"There was a bit more to my plans than that."
"Not to be rude, but do you really want to talk right now?"
She could feel him press against her stomach. At five-nine she
was only a few inches shorter and they fit together so well. "You
"I've waited a long time to get you alone, in a bed..."
He rubbed his hands up and down her arms. "Do you need me to
be more specific about where my mind is going?"
"I thought we'd sit down, have some coffee and talk."
His face turned an odd shade of green. "I...uh..."
She could actually see his eyes widen. He clearly was too far
gone to pick up the sarcasm. "Paul, I'm kidding."
"Well, I mean, I can tolerate some talking if you want."
"I have no idea."
"The talking has been going well for you for the last month."
The sickly green around his mouth faded a bit. "Have I thanked
you for that?"
He blew out a long breath and wiped a hand through his hair. "Look,
it's not that I don't want to talk-"
"It's okay. You can stop fumbling around now. I don't want
mindless chit chat either."
He threw his head back. "Thank you!"
"Though it was pretty cute to watch you panic."
"I was trying not to sound like a jerk on a booty call."
"You're coming across more like a guy who is inches away
from getting something he wants."
He glanced down. "Inches. Yeah, that's one way to look at
She toyed with the idea of torturing him a bit longer but since
she wanted him as much as he wanted her, she abandoned the thought.
This wasn't a test. If it were, he'd already passed long ago.
She slipped her hand in his and stepped back until there was enough
room for air to move between them again. "I think we should
start with a tour of the house."
His shoulders fell. "Jennifer... You're killing me here."
"We'll start with my bedroom."