Page 72 of Hopeful Hearts

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When Sophia stepped outside to see what was taking Brodie so long, her breath caught and a tight squeeze made her chest ache. Their back porch was covered in jars filled with candles and he’d draped fairy lights from the branches of their ash tree.

The scent of salty sea air sailed on the gentle breeze and mixed with the sound of the meat and vegetables sizzling on the barbecue.

“Brodie, this is gorgeous.”

“I wanted it to be perfect.”

“It is,” she smiled as he pulled out a chair for her.

He’d set the little patio table up with condiments, dinner plates, more candles and a jar full of daisies in the centre. The sight made her heart swell in her chest.

“Would you have done anything differently?”

She smiled. He wanted the truth, and she loved how much he respected her talent for event planning.

Folding her arms across her chest, she glanced around. The stars were out in force. One of the many benefits of living so close to the sea, they could just about make out in the distance. Taking it all in, he turned the chicken over while awaiting her verdict.

“There is something. Not a major oversight, but it would have made a world of difference.”

He looked intrigued.

“Your clothes?”

“You think I should have smartened up? I thought about that, but it took forever to light all these candles.”

“The opposite, actually. I think this whole scene could have been way more interesting if you weren’t wearing any clothes.”

Brodie didn’t flinch.

She popped a brow, knowing how much he revelled in a challenge. Sure enough, it only took a few seconds before he leant down and pulled off his shoe.

“No, you wouldn’t.”

Off came the other shoe.

“I was kidding.”

He looked at her and grinned a wicked smile.

“I told you already. Whatever my wife wants tonight, she gets.”

“You’re really doing this, aren’t you?”

“Hell, yes I am,” he said as he whipped off his jeans.

Sophia giggled at the sight.

His T-shirt came off a few moments later, and he held a finger in the air. Spinning around, he flipped over the chicken again, wearing only a pair of black Ralph Lauren boxer shorts.

Sophia admired his tight butt cheeks and, and, as though sensing her eyes burning into them, he gave them a little shake before jumping around to face her.

“You wanted a naked chef. You got one, baby.”

“No, no. Stop,” she waved her hands in front of her face, trying to hold in a full-bodied laugh that was threatening to spill out of her lips, as she knew the pain would be unbearable.

It was no use. Off came the boxer shorts in a quick movement and Sophia watched on as he swung them around his finger and threw them at her.

She doubled over as laughter, and pain ripped through her entire body.

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