One in a Million

Page 25


“Because you didn’t show.”

She lifted her head and stared at the door. “Why did it matter to you?”

“Open the door, Callie.”

“Tell me why, Tanner.”

Was that a barely-there sigh she heard? “Because you’re not an ostrich,” he said.

She blinked. “Maybe I am. Maybe I hide all the time. Maybe I’m a master hider.” Oh my God, Callie, shut up.

“I do know you,” he said.

She shook her head even though he couldn’t see her. “You don’t.”

“I know you’re smart as hell, so smart that most of us football players paid you to do our homework.”

“That was ten years ago,” she said. “You don’t know me now.”

“You run a hugely popular website that you design and handle by yourself,” he said. “I don’t quite get the need for thirty bazillion shades of white satin, or why anyone would want doves to fly over their heads and possibly crap on them, but that’s just me. You’re here in Lucky Harbor checking on your grandma—a serious pain in every bachelor’s ass in this town—but that aside, what you’re doing makes you a pretty damn sweet and caring person. Oh, and I know you have a serious thing for doughnuts.”

She stared at the door. He really had noticed her.

“Open up,” he said into the silence. “I’ve got something for you.”

“A doughnut?” she asked hopefully. “Because that’s the only way I’m opening this door.”

“Better,” he said.

“There’s nothing better.”

“A baker’s dozen,” he said. “And coffee.”

Momentarily forgetting what she looked like, she unlocked the door. Indeed, he was standing there with a big baker’s box and a carrier of four coffees.

“Gimme.” Mouth watering, she reached for the box, but he lifted it high and stepped inside, kicking the door shut behind him.

His eyes were dark, hooded by heavy lids and his thick lashes. His jaw was covered in a few days’ growth of beard, longer than she’d ever seen it, making him look simultaneously dangerous and…vulnerable?

That couldn’t be right. Tanner didn’t do vulnerable.

But something was bothering him. She didn’t get the sense that it had anything to do with her, which meant it was none of her business, but it didn’t stop her from wondering.

And wondering about him made her feel like that silly teen again, with the even sillier crush. “You okay?” she asked softly.

“Was going to ask you the same.”

“Me? I’m great.”

He laughed softly, then moved in closer, his body brushing hers. For a beat she thought maybe he was going to kiss her on the cheek. It threw her in a startlingly good way and she stilled.

He did the same. His dark eyes softened and the laughter faded out of them. Then he shifted even closer so that her body brushed his.

She felt every inch of herself quiver because holy cow. Something was burning and she was pretty sure it was her. Time slowed and she realized she’d actually stopped breathing.

So had he. Then he took a slow, long, thorough tour at what she was wearing from her hair to the tips of her Shrek slippers, and smiled.

“You haven’t disappointed yet,” he said.

She held her head high. “I wasn’t dressed to impress.”

“I like it.”

This deflected most of her self-righteousness. “You do?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?” she asked suspiciously.

“Mostly because you’re not wearing any underwear.”

“Hey!” She crossed her arms over her breasts. “How do you know that?”

“God-given talent,” he said. “And you’re happy to see me.”

Her self-righteousness was back in a flash. “For your information,” she said, “I’m cold.”

He smiled.

“I am!”

“I just find it funny that on your website you have an entire section dedicated to fancy lingerie, and you don’t wear any,” he said.

“Ohmigod.” She stared at him, horrified. “Why are you reading my website?”

“Why not?”

“Why not?” She tossed up her hands and struggled for the obvious. “Are you terminally insane? Soon to be married? A woman?”

He was grinning at her now. “No.”

“Then why?” She poked him in a hard pec. Her finger practically bounced off the wall of his chest. Damn, he was built. “Why are you on my website?”

“I’m curious about you.”

That should not give her a little thrill. “Well, don’t be. And stay off the site.”

“What if I was a client?”

“That would be entirely different,” she said. “Then I’d sell you the whole fantasy. But you and I both know that fantasy is expensive and also simply a balloon just waiting to burst.”

Tanner offered her one of the coffees. It was a bribe, of course, but she wasn’t above falling for it. She took a big gulp and closed her eyes in bliss. “God have mercy, how I missed you,” she whispered to the cup.

“Aw,” he said. “Sweet.”

“I was talking to the coffee.” When the caffeine hit her system, she opened her eyes.

Tanner had set everything on her counter and had moved to the wall of windows. He was hands in pockets, looking out at the water.

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