Leo was nodding along until he realised what Zara had just said. He felt his eyes widen in surprise and he met her teasing gaze. Zara merely winked at him then said, ‘I’ll get back to the kitchen and tell them you’ll join us shortly, shall I?’
‘Thanks.’ Erin nodded. When Zara had gone, Erin turned on the sofa to look at Leo. ‘Sorry, Leo.’
‘For what Zara said about the man being here under this roof.’ She laughed nervously.
Leo shrugged. ‘It’s fine. I mean… Is it that terrible a prospect?’
‘Is what a terrible prospect?’
He scanned her face, her clear skin and beautiful blue eyes, the soft downy hair at her hairline and the thick length of it that tumbled over her shoulders. God she was beautiful!
‘The idea of you and… and… and me.’
Her lips parted and she frowned. ‘You mean… Y-you like me? Likethat?’
He gave an embarrassed chuckle. He had no idea how she’d feel about the thought of being with him and he was simultaneously dreading rejection but also feeling incredibly nervous that he might not be ready for something like this.
‘Look, Erin, I… I’ve always liked you. Always been fond of you. But you are my best friend’s younger sister and it’s not like… thedone thingto go after a mate’s sister. There’s a code.’
‘A code, eh?’ She smiled and a gentle flush stole into her cheeks. ‘And you like to stick to the code?’
‘I have done so far but hey… we’re all getting older and—’
He was silenced by her lips as they met his and her hands entwined behind his head. He froze for a moment but then, something inside him seemed to unfurl like the petals of a flower opening to the sun and before he knew what was happening, he had pulled Erin close, and he was kissing her back. Their lips pressed against each other, their tongues tangled together, and desire rushed through Leo’s whole body. It had been so long since he’d felt this alive and it was all because of Erin. When they finally parted, they were both breathless.
‘Wow!’ he said. ‘Who knew?’
‘Who knew indeed?’ Erin smiled shyly at him but there was something in her eyes that made his stomach clench. ‘I think we’d better join the others but… thanks for that.’
‘No, thank you.’
He brushed a few strands of hair from her cheek then pressed a kiss there and a soft sigh escaped her lips. The kind of sigh that made him long to embrace her again and kiss her sweet mouth, trail kisses down her neck and lower. That…
He shook himself.Not now and not here.
He stood up and held out a hand. ‘Shall we?’
She slid the blanket off her shoulders, folded it and placed it back on the sofa then they returned to the kitchen together. Leo was confused, elated and trying to work out if he’d just made a huge mistake or done the best thing for both of them. But he couldn’t deny that while in some ways, it could be construed as wrong, it felt incredibly, undeniably, deliciously right.
Sitting at the dinner table with her family, Erin passed the garlic bread along. Paul and Angelina were all smiles, in fact, they were both glowing with happiness and it made her realise that they were actually in love. This was not a passing fancy or whim of Paul’s; it was real, and it seemed, for keeps. Paul would be married soon and become a father and her heart filled with joy for him. Plus, it dawned on her that she would become an aunt and there was a lot of joy to be found in that idea. And then, there were her parents who both looked ecstatic. How wonderful for them that they would soon have a little grandchild to love and adore.
Not forgetting the fact that… SHE HAD KISSED LEO!
OMG! I kissed Leo!
After all these years. And it had been a bloody amazing kiss that had made her whole body blaze with yearning and that had made her heart race like she’d just run a marathon.It was all she could do not to stand on her chair and dance. All those years when she was younger, thinking that Leo was gorgeous and sophisticated and believing that he thought she was just his best friend’s younger sister. Which she was. But now they were both adults and the dynamic had changed. They were, she knew, also both nursing their own traumas and so neither of them came to this — whateverthiswas — unscathed or without baggage but wasn’t that the way with all relationships that occurred when people were adults? Who didn’t have baggage or pain in their past? It would be incredibly rare to find a person in their late twenties or early thirties who hadn’t been in love at least once.
She reached for her flute of champagne and took a sip, wrinkling her nose as the bubbles teased the tip. It was a night for celebrating in more ways than one and she was going to enjoy every minute.
She glanced at Leo, wondering what he was thinking. Was he happy too or was he regretting kissing her? She didn’t think so because he’d certainly seemed enthusiastic and he was quite a serious man, not the type to kiss just anyone. And the way he had kissed her felt like he meant it. Like hereally, reallymeant it.