I’m waiting on copy edits for my third book in the MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series, BAKED WITH LOVE, but while I wait, here’s a little something from Maureen O’Dowd’s perspective….
Lucas nodded. “He seems pretty stoked about working, something I’m surprised about. Glad, for sure, but surprised. I figured…” He shrugged.
“I know. I thought a fifteen-year-old boy would rather be any place than in a kitchen every day, but he actually asked to work most days during the week and on weekends for the weddings. We’ll see how long this enthusiasm lasts.” I grinned up at him while I towel-dried a mug.
“I don’t know, Mo. If it was me, I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a kitchen every day—”
“That’s because you’re always hungry.”
“—if it was with you.”
My hand stopped rubbing the porcelain.
I’m usually fairly adept at not showing my feelings or have what’s running through my mind cross my face. Nanny has commented many times over the years I’m the person she least likes playing poker with because she can’t read me. The ability to hide my true feelings has gotten me through some testy times with my parents, a bad breakup with a verbally abusive boyfriend, and my twin’s illness then death. Plus, for as many times as we’d been together over the years, Lucas had never once guessed how I truly felt about him.
Right now, though, I was finding it next to impossible to school my features and body into its usual calm nonchalance. I can only imagine how I must have appeared to him, standing there with the towel thrust into the mug, my hand paralyzed—my body as well—as I stared up at him, silent.
“What’s wrong?” He uncrossed his arms and took a step toward me, his brows grooving toward the middle of his forehead. “Maureen?”
I blinked a few times when his hand snaked around my upper arm. A soothing, comforting warmth seeped through me from his touch. I wanted to move in closer, melt into his arms, and snuggle into all his heat. When I found myself shifting so I could, I took a step backward, mentally and physically. Lucas didn’t drop his hold but kept his hand on my arm, his other one following suit.
“Nothing. Sorry. I’m fine.” I shook my head a few times and planted what I hoped looked like a self-deprecating grin on my face.
“I lost you there for a second.” His gaze swept across my face, searching, silently questioning.
“Sorry. I’ve got a lot going on up here.” I pointed a finger at my head. “Thinking fifteen steps ahead about what needs to be done around this place.”
He waited a beat, those intelligent, intense eyes never wavering from my own. “Why don’t I believe that’s all it is?”
It was no wonder he was such a good lawman. With his gaze zeroed in on me, piercing and probing, and his voice low, deep, and commanding, almost seductively sly in its cadence, I imagined people who’d broken the law were no match for him when it came to his garnering confessions.
I pulled a Colleen-worthy eye roll. “Because you’re a cop and you’re naturally suspicious. It’s ground into your DNA. Like the green in your eyes.”
One eyebrow quirked high up on his forehead. “The green in my eyes?”
His mouth stayed perfectly straight, but I got the distinct impression he was laughing at me.
“It’s true. Your eyes are green, and you’re naturally nosy.”
His inspection grew more intense as he dipped his chin and glared at me. The heat in his stare shot straight down to my core and exploded. I’m pretty sure I shuddered.
Lucas’s fingers kneaded my arms. Every nerve ending in my body stood straight up, like I’d walked across a rug in the dead of winter and then touched something metal, sparking an electric shock. I licked lips that had suddenly gone desert-dry.
His gaze took a slow stroll down to my mouth and lingered. Enough so those butterflies finally made a break for freedom. Without any will to prevent it, my mouth fell open and I dragged in about a quart of air, my shoulders lifting, then dropping with the effort. I lost the grip on the mug and when it slipped out of my hand, Lucas let go of my arms as we both reached for it at the same time.
My reflexes are quick. Lucas’s are like lightning.
Both our hands went around the cup at the same time, but in moving for it, Lucas had to bend from his substantial height. When he did, our heads connected and a resounding thwack echoed around us.
“Ow.” I let the mug go free into his hand and palmed the spot of contact on my forehead. “Your skull’s made of cement.”
Lucas placed the mug on the counter, then tugged my hand off my head.
I swatted him away. It was like slicing air because it had no effect on halting him from touching me.
“Let me see. Stop squirming.” He cupped my chin to hold me in place.
In all honesty, I’d gone statue-still again the moment his hand curled around my jaw. I knew Lucas’s fingers were strong, an effect of being a life-long shooter. Thick-skinned, coarse, and powerful, his grip was surprising gentle though, as he held my face in one hand and pressed against the throbbing notch on my forehead with the other.
“You’re gonna have a goose egg.”
“And whose fault is that?” I mumbled.
“Better get some ice on it, fast.”
This time when I glanced up at him, he was attempting—and failing—to hide a grin.
Through narrowed eyes, I said, “Thanks for the advice. Mind letting go of me so I can?”
Lucas glanced at the hand wrapped around my chin, frowned, then drew his attention back up to meet my eyes.
Calling them green hadn’t done them a bit of justice. There are so many variations of the simple color, and none of them applied to Lucas.
They weren’t the bright green of a shamrock or the metallic sheen of jade. Neither were they pale like sage nor brilliant like winking emeralds. The purest and most accurate way to describe them was they mimicked the color of fresh moss at midnight: deep and dark with shards of yellow in the mix reflected in moonlight. Long lashed with a tiny tilt at the corners and subtle lines fanning out to his temples, Lucas’s eyes had always been captivating to me. Right now, with his hand holding my chin, and his body so close I could detect the brand of soap he’d used in the shower, they were mesmerizing.
The air between us changed in a finger snap. Energized. Ignited.
Something in Lucas changed, as well. His shoulders were drawn up almost to his ears, and his breathing went a little deeper, a little louder as we stood there. The groove between his eyebrows folded inward even more than it usually did. When his tongue flicked out and crossed over his bottom lip like mine had a few moments ago, I bit down on the need to press my own mouth to his.
I may have moaned.
The swift inhale Lucas took convinced me he’d heard the sound and recognized it for the naked desire it was. The hand at my chin tensed and drew me in closer. So close, I could count every hair of the afternoon stubble shading his etched cheeks and strong jaw.
An insane urge to run my tongue along the length of that shadow hopscotched through me. I might have succumbed to the impulse if Robert’s voice hadn’t spilt into the room.
We both blinked at the sound.
“What’s going on?”
“Maureen dropped a cup,” Lucas told him after a moment, his attention never wavering from me. His voice was thick and low. “We bumped heads when we went to get it. Grab some ice from the freezer, would ya, son?”
“There’s a cold pack in there,” I said, stepping back when Lucas finally freed his hold on me.
He stood, immobile and silent, in front of me while his son set about his task.
I’d give anything to know what he was thinking, but his expression had gone back to its usual relaxed one. His body, though, remained stiff and tense.
Robert handed me the cold pack and said, “Here.” When he glanced at my forehead, he added, “Ouch. Dad, you hurt her.”
“It’s nothing,” I said, wrapping the pack in the dishtowel I still held in one hand. I placed it against the throbbing ache I now felt on my head and winced. “Okay, ouch is right. But it was an accident, Bobby-Boy.”
I wanted to alleviate the troubled expression on his face, so I added, lifting my lips in what I hope was a comical smirk, “Your father’s got a head like a rock. No surprise, there.”
My quip hit its intended mark as both of the men in my kitchen grinned. Lucas’s shoulders finally relaxed, and the ghost of a sigh slid from him.
They left shortly thereafter with Lucas promising to have his son to work on time in the morning.
Intrigued? I’ll put up release dates and a cover when I have them. Until then, be well, peeps.
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