A half smile came to play on his lips. “You’re easy to be around. And easy on the eye. That’s a bonus.” He caught himself. Took a step back. “I have no right to be saying that. I’m not in a place where—”
“I’m attracted to you too,” she blurted, then wished the earth would just open up beneath her and swallow her up along with the wave of embarrassment that washed over her. She had no idea how to act around a man she was attracted to. She was pitifully inexperienced when it came to dating.
He stepped closer with an intense, thoughtful look on his face. “We shouldn’t do this.”
Her heart gave a hard thud.
“You probably can’t kiss.” Another step closer. “What does the doctor say?”
“We never kissed,” she deadpanned. “Dr. Pratt and I are not interested in each other that way.”
The sound of his deep laughter broke the tension between them. He moved a little closer still.
“Dr. Pratt says intimacy is all right, unless the other person is sick.” She couldn’t believe she just said that. Why not put a neon sign on her forehead? DESPERATE FOR SEX.
“This isn’t going to work.” He leaned his forehead against hers, the skin-to-skin contact jolting. “This isn’t the right time for either of us.” His hands slid up her arms. “I shouldn’t kiss you,” he said.
And then he did.
He didn’t do more than brush his lips over hers, and her head was swimming. Her heart seemed to skip several beats, which gave her a moment of anxiety before she remembered that it might be normal. Things like that were frequently mentioned in romance novels.
She’d just never thought it was real, that she could ever feel a wave of desire as intense as this.
Bing slowly put his arms around her, drawing her closer, and suddenly her breasts were snuggled against his hard chest. Tingles ran across her skin. Then he nibbled on her lower lip gently, and her knees went weak. She lifted her hands to his waist, for support first, then they somehow slipped around him and moved up the rippling muscles of his back. His body felt like a work of art under her fingertips.
A long minute of bliss passed before he eased back to look at her.
She stared at him, dazed, then gathered herself.
“I’m not like this normally.” They barely knew each other, even if she’d felt an instant connection, almost from the moment she’d met him.
He raised an eyebrow. “Like what?”
“Brazen.” If that was the right word.
He shook his head, that half smile coming out again. “Think again. You just locked lips with the police captain on your front stoop for everyone to see.”
She felt her face flush as he watched her, conflicting emotions crossing his face. The half smile disappeared as he stepped back.
“Don’t say it,” she blurted. “Don’t say it was a mistake, or apologize or—” She wanted to keep that one perfect moment as it was, even if they never had another.
His gaze darkened. “Apologizing couldn’t be further from what I’m thinking.”
Did the air thin suddenly? She felt like it did. He watched her with an intensity that made it impossible to look away from him. As if he was wrestling with an important decision.
Then he turned from her, strode to his pickup, and drove away.
On his way back to the station, he stopped for some coffee at the country store. The drive-through would have been faster at one of the chains, but the country store had Mildred behind the counter. She was eighty-two, still worked most every day, and got a kick out of being the Captain’s favorite.
Bing ordered the daily special, which turned out to be hazelnut mocha with almond milk. He liked his coffee black, but Mildred was proud of her specials. Her friends came in and made a big deal about them, and it kept her happy.
“Best one yet,” he told her with a smile. “Given some more thought about running away with me?”
“Drive by the house Sunday morning.” She flashed her own come-hither grin. “Pull up to the back. One whistle and I’ll shimmy down the drainpipe.”
From anyone else her age, that would have been an impossibility, but if anyone could do it, Mildred would. She had that kind of spirit.
“Don’t you believe her.” Eddie Gannon, the town handyman, came up behind Bing. He was in his fifties, and lived alone above the diner, a man of many skills. He drove the big plow in the winter for the town and went around fixing whatever needed to be fixed for the rest of the year. He winked at Mildred. “She’s been leading me on like that for years.”
“We can duke it out in the back,” Bing offered to Eddie. “I have to warn you. I’m not going to give her up easily.”
They joked on for another minute or two while he paid.
He held up two new locks when she let him in—one regular, one dead bolt. “I can install them. It’ll take ten minutes.”
“Thank you. Okay.”
He smiled. “Hey, that’s progress. At the very least, I expected you to arm-wrestle me for the drill.”
“You’re not helping because you don’t think I can handle it.”
“So why am I helping?”
“Some men can’t express their emotions, so they show that they care by doing things. It’s a manly thing.” She’d been reading her self-help books in the evenings.
His lips stretched into a grin. And there was a moment of connection between them, as they stood in her entryway, just looking at each other. Maybe he was right. Maybe the attraction was a natural thing. God, what woman wouldn’t be attracted to him?
“I’ll be right outside in the cruiser by the curb,” he said once they were finished and the dishes put away. “Just to make sure whoever broke in doesn’t come back to give you any more trouble.”
“I have new locks. I have Peaches. And just as a warning…” She put her fists up. “I float like a bee and sting like a butterfly.”
“I was going to point out that if we lived together permanently, you’d have unlimited access to this.” He gestured with a hand at his body like the hostess at the board on The Price is Right, while wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Contact Info for Dana Marton