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She nodded as she took it all in. “I’ve never cooked in a kitchen so big before. It’s like it belongs to a chef.” Her eyes were wide, the blue really shining as the setting sun glimmered behind her through the picturesque windows that overlooked the cliff.

“My office is over here,” I continued, walking toward the double French doors with her close behind. I opened the doors to what was by far my most favorite place to be. The cozy room was mastered by another fireplace and a huge oak desk that had been in my family for generations. There was a smaller oak desk to the right of it near the window, which was where I planned on having Tessa work from. A huge rug that I had imported from Morocco covered most of the wood flooring and matched perfectly with the worn couch, loveseat, and reading chair that sat in front of the fireplace. I truly could spend all day in this room and never leave.

“I can see why you can create your books in here,” Tessa said as she walked over to the bookshelf that covered the left side of the room. “You have so many books.”

“A good author reads,” I said as I walked over to what would be her desk. “You’ll be working here. This will be your spot.”

She came and stood by me and looked out the window that offered a view of the forest. Suddenly, she squealed and pointed to the paned glass. “A deer. Oh, look, there are three of them!”

Her burst of excitement had me nearly jumping, and I couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm. Smile… something I rarely did. I much preferred even-tempered and in control. Getting a better view, she moved her body closer to mine. Damn, she smelled good. Floral, exotic, sensual, and yet innocent.

Why the fuck was I smelling her?

“You’ll see a lot of them, but that is also why I don’t want you going into the woods without letting me know. There is a lot of wildlife out there, and I don’t want you to be alone. So you really do need to stay near the house.”

She nodded, which I appreciated. At least for now, it appeared she didn’t feel like she had to fight me or prove that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. I had memories of having this exact same conversation with Molly. They had always ended with her pouting and then doing whatever she felt like doing regardless of what I said. Taking a deep and calming breath, and shaking the thoughts of her out of my head, I silently made a vow to make that the last time I would allow the ghost of that woman to haunt my thoughts any longer. Enough was enough. She had her own life with the banker man, and I sure as hell had my own life, which did not, and never would, involve her again. And Molly never smelled like Tessa…

Fuck! Why was I smelling her?

“Let me show you your room,” I said, needing to shake off the confusing thoughts of why Tessa all of a sudden seemed to be putting off some sort of scent that was like a magnet to my libido.

Trying my best not to look at her anymore—or smell her—I guided her up a large staircase with a landing that also had a large bookshelf full of books.

“I guess I better take up reading now,” Tessa said with a smile. “I have no excuse with all my choices. It’s like the movie Beauty and the Beast.”

I smirked. “You have no idea how true those words are. You haven’t seen me in writing mode. I’m more of a beast than I think you know, or are even prepared for.” And damn if she wasn’t a beauty.

Tessa didn’t say anything but turned her head and just stared at me. Not in fear or even confusion. She just stopped and looked at me. Our eyes were connected, until it was I who broke the contact and continued up the stairs to her room. Opening the door, I walked in and instantly went to the stove in the corner of the room and began building a fire in it. The room was far too chilly for her to be comfortable, so I utilized the pile of wood already set up for her.

“Wow. This is my room?” she asked.

I looked over my shoulder for a brief moment and watched how she spun slowly around in a circle taking it all in. There was a king-size, four-poster bed draped with a heavy patchwork quilt. The artwork in the room was all watercolors I had found at a nearby town that had a local art fair. The sheer curtains were enough to block the bright sunrays of the morning but still allowed you to see the huge ponderosa trees outside.

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