There’s just something appealing about a man – one you want, I mean – in hot pursuit. You know what I mean.
The men who show up with gifts. Who don’t mind waiting for your company when you’ve got things to do, and they have no problem being patient and understanding.
Our hero Hugh is like that. But Charlie may find out that he’s not prepared to wait forever. Or is he?
Please enjoy this unedited snippet from my latest WIP.
She painted for the rest of the day and far into the night. Only hunger stopped her. Her belly was growling so loud, she laughed. It made noise every time she reached for a brush or one of her pots of color.
“Okay, okay.” She patted her flat stomach and fixed herself some scrambled eggs with cheese, onions and chives, and toast with her favorite apricot jam.
She was yawning by the time she washed up the dishes and decided to curl up on the couch for a nap.
Banging woke her a few hours later. At first she didn’t recognize the sound. But eventually the sleep fog receded and she realized it was the door knocker.
She peeked out expecting Una, but was shocked to see hero Hugh.
“Open up, lil’ bit. I know you’re there.”
Ordinarily she’d have ignored him like she did any uninvited guest and gone back to work. She hesitated, still not sure she wouldn’t. But the lil’ bit had her opening the door. No one had called her that since her mother.
He scowled at her and thrust a large bottle of orange juice into her hands. “Why the hell don’t you answer your phone?”
“The ringer’s off.” It would occur to her much later that she’d never given him her number.
“You gonna let me in?”
Charlie stood aside with a dramatic sweep of the arm. “By all means. Come on in and make yourself at home. Can I offer you some juice?” She shook the bottle in his direction. It mixed itself. She looked at the label. It wasn’t orange juice. It was orange, carrot, ginger, lemon and kale juice. “Looks good.”
“It is. I drink it.”
“So what brings you here?” She padded into the kitchen to pour herself a tall glass. Cold pressed, organic juice cost a pretty penny. She was looking forward to it. “Bearing gifts, no less.”
“How’s your shoulder?”
She licked her lips and set down her now empty glass. It hurt. She’d been painting with it all night, and it hadn’t felt right even before that asshole had used her for a punching bag. “You came to ask about my arm?”
“Yeah. Is it still sore?”
“Yeah,” she repeated.
“More or less?”
He reached into his jacket and pulled out a lumpy square package. “Nuke this for 30 seconds in your microwave and put it on the pain. It helps.”
She took it. It was a reusable heating pad. “Thank you. I’ll pay you for it –”
“No, that’s for you.”
They stared at each other. As his eyes ran over her, Charlie realized how she must look wearing her painting smock and head scarf, covered from head to foot in paint. She hadn’t showered since yesterday. The only reason she was wearing pants was because she got cold easily when she slept.
She reached up and pulled off her scarf. Then immediately regretted it when his eyes got stuck in her hair.
He reached up and tugged on a hank until it came over her shoulder and wound around his finger. “It’s like sunshine.”
She watched him rub it between long, blunt tipped fingers. She pulled it back and threw it over her shoulder. “It’s just hair.”
“It’s beautiful,” he corrected. “Why don’t you clean up and come outside for a bit? We’ll go for a walk. Get some air.”
That actually sounded wonderful. She hadn’t been able to in weeks with her thug tormentors out front. She eyed him. She wanted too, and with her arm aching and still sleepy and slightly sappy from being given unasked for presents she couldn’t bring herself to say no.
“It may take me a minute to scrub off this paint,” she warned him.
He shrugged and pulled out his phone. “I can wait.”