I gave a skeptical look and took a sip of the cool juice.
“You never know?” She shrugged.
With an unconvinced eye roll, I set down my glass. “She seemed pretty sincere to me. But it doesn’t really matter anyway. I won’t take a chance and have it turn sour and then be stuck living next to him. Besides, Oliver’s a good kid and with school starting soon I’ll have a class of students to keep me busy.”
“All right,” she said.
That was way too easy.
“If you think you can stay away from him then, good for you.” She scrolled through her phone, looking semi bored.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked appalled.
“I’m just saying it’s been awhile since you’ve been with a guy and it’s obvious you’re attracted to him…so we’ll see.” She sipped her steaming cup of coffee, finger still tapping at her phone, but the corner of her mouth twitched with the faintest smile.
I’ll show her.
I could be around Logan and resist any charm he threw my way. Besides, he had given me no real reason to think he was interested in me. I imagined the women he seduced looked more like a plastic Barbie and less like a fresh-out-of-college teacher.
No matter the amount of attraction and pure lust I felt toward Logan, I’d stand my ground. To protect not only my heart, which I knew would get hurt, but also because I felt I owed it to Oliver. He had a look that told me he needed people to look out for him. Between Oliver and my heart, I would never let either get hurt.
For some unexplained reason, I found myself in my kitchen the moment I stepped inside my house.
I spent the afternoon baking two dozen delectable muffins with fresh blueberries. Due to the broken air conditioner, every window in my house was opened. Today, it created a perfect breeze swirling with the aromas from my new oven. I was too cheap to get the air conditioner fixed, but it was another thing to buy top of the line kitchen appliances. It was heaven.
After dinner, I placed all the muffins—minus the four I already ate and would regret the next time I slipped on my bikini—in a large basket I had stored in the spare bedroom.
Walking across my yard—muffins in tow—and seeing the sun was beginning to set, I realized I’d lost track of time. Arranging that many muffins to create a picture-perfect display, took nearly as long as creating a flower arrangement and still, I knew it could have looked better. My Martha Stewart OCD was showing again, I blamed that on my grandmother.
Glancing down at my watch, it read eight forty-five. Interrupting bedtime for Oliver had not been my plan but I was already here, and the muffins were deliciously fresh.
“Just drop it,” Logan’s smooth voice called out.
My head snapped up, my feet halting a stone’s throw from Logan’s front door, which was left cracked open.
I knew his remark was not meant for me considering it was followed by a very feminine moan.
“Don’t you have a bed in this giant house?” The woman giggled and I felt my gag reflex kick in.
Time to abort my official ‘Welcome to the neighborhood mission.’
Stepping back, I turned to tiptoe away from the open door but my focus was transfixed on getting out of there as quickly and quietly as possible, I didn’t see the black urn filled with dead flowers behind me.
I bit my bottom lip, hard, but the crashing of the vase against the cement porch sent my nervous system into overdrive and all I could feel was the searing gaze of someone in front of me.
“Cassandra,” Logan said, his eyes lit with amusement but his expression indifferent.
My cheeks scorched and my palms dug into the rough handle of the basket.
Why did my name sound so incredibly sexy rolling off his tongue? I shook my head once, blinking wildly to pull myself out of the trance his state of undress caused.
He stood there under the porch light wearing a pair of light wash jeans with the top button popped open as well as his belt unbuckled. His long sleeve button-down shirt was rolled up to his elbows and hung completely open. I’d seen his bare chest before but with a crisp white shirt exposing just a teasing amount I stood mesmerized.
I definitely interrupted someone tonight.
The naughty thoughts that crept through my mind in record time both appalled and fascinated me, as did my body’s incredible reaction to them.
Damn it. Pull yourself together Cassandra!
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…interrupt.” I stuttered, looking anywhere but at him.
The woman, who I assumed was responsible for his nearly nude state, had appeared at some point and was standing behind him. Her chest pressed against his back and her eyes screamed at me to get lost, ‘he’s mine.’
Pulling myself out of my thoughts, I recognized her from around town, Katie. She was a grade above me in high school, I remembered her as one of the annoyingly popular girls.
“It’s not a problem, sweetheart. Did you need something?” He seemed oblivious to the woman rubbing her hands up and down his forearms, kissing the back of his neck. He raised his shoulder where her lips lingered, forcing her face away.
She frowned looking both embarrassed and annoyed.
His gaze never strayed from mine but his usual smirk slowly crept over his luscious lips. No, not luscious!
“Hmm?” I asked. All I could see was the perfect stubble surrounding his chiseled jaw and plump, kissable lips. Think, Cassandra, think.
Why was this so hard? I never had this reaction to a man before.
I shook my head again. “Right, I made these for you and Oliver.” Finally, something that pulled me back to reality, Oliver. His son. The son that needed me to stay off—no—away from his father.
My arms had been like dead weights working against me, but suddenly I began finding my way out of the lust-fueled fog. I held out the basket for him to take it, but his face marred with confusion.
He glanced down at the basket and then back up at me. Was he debating on whether he wanted them? I spent so much time making sure they not only tasted perfect but also creating a brilliant presentation. I at least wanted Oliver to have them.
Worry was settling in my gut. Why did I come here? What was I thinking? Suddenly his expression softened, a smile pulling at his lips. It was unlike any of the smirks I’ve seen on him before or even the grins he gave during our disastrous jog.
This smile was warm, genuine and matched his eyes, equally soft. With bated breath, I stood there, practically swooning over him.
“Thank you. Oliver went to visit his cousin for the night, but I’m sure he’ll enjoy one when he returns.”
I smiled, thankful for him stowing away his cocky attitude.
“Ooh, those look good!” Katie grabbed the basket from Logan, planting an exaggerated kiss on his cheek in the process, and disappeared inside the house.
I fought back the urge to race past him and tackle her to the ground screaming, not yours, slut! Instead, I did what I always do when faced with frustration; I gave a polite tight-lipped smile and turned to leave.
A part of me wanted him to say wait. Not the logical part of my brain. There was nothing left to say and even if there was he was definitely off limits and I was strong enough to resist. Right?
But after that sweet smile it didn’t matter what he had to say, I only wanted another excuse to stare a second longer. That’s all I needed. One more second to capture his essence, and lock it away for my dreams.