James Winchester is content with his predictable small town life. He lives alone, helps out at his family farm, and doesn’t miss an ice cream social. His life is so neat and ordered he could use one of his accounting spreadsheets to chart his upcoming years.
Evelyn Prentiss’s world is in chaos. She’s returned to her home town twenty years after leaving and the transition isn’t as smooth as she’d anticipated. Her home needs renovated, her parents are once again too hands-on, and she only has the summer months to settle in before she starts her new teaching job.
In an effort to be a good neighbor, James finds himself stopping by Evelyn’s house more and more to help with her endless to-do list. When a mystery from their past resurfaces and opens old wounds, the two find comfort in each other. And so much more.
Evelyn was not sure what she was doing other than enjoying the music and proximity to James’s body, mainly his chest and arms and hands. She knew she was lonely and missing male companionship, so she hoped he didn’t take it too personally when she leaned in closer and sighed. His arms tightened a bit and she almost let her head fall to his shoulder, but that would be too much. All she was hoping was that another slow song would come up on the playlist and that the canny woman looking over the pictures in the booth would leave them alone for a while.
“I’m sorry about this.” James rumbled.
“What? Dancing with me?”
“Lucy putting you on the spot, that’s what I’m apologizing for.”
“Having to dance with me, that spot.” To his credit, he actually did sound apologetic.
“It’s not a spot.” Actually, Evelyn felt like it was a good spot but to say so would be pathetic. His thighs brushed against hers and if she breathed really deeply her breasts would be touching his chest. Which would also be a good spot.
He was silent a moment. “Lucy likes telling people what to do.”
“Oh. But this is nice.” She hoped that he would agree with her or at least not comment negatively. Her ego couldn’t take that. Not when she was enjoying this so much.
“Well, yes, it is nice.” He made this agreement grudgingly.
“And I like this song.”
“It is a good song.” He concurred while maintaining a polite distance.
Evelyn started to smile, he was being so careful not to touch her more than the bare minimum. If it was anyone other than James she would be insulted or grateful, depending on the attractiveness of her dance partner. But he was different. He was a friend, an unexpectedly sexy friend, but this was entirely comfortable no matter how close or how far apart they were. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d danced with a man. Walter never went anywhere dancing was an option. His favorite places were sports bars, school fundraisers, and chili parlors. And now her thoughts were rattling aimlessly around in order to divert herself from how her body was feeling. Intellect over instinct, that must become her new mantra.
“Are you as miserable as you sound?”
“I’m not miserable,” he protested. “I just don’t like being coerced into dancing with you.”
“Is it the coercion that bothers you, or is it me?”
“Evelyn.” He sounded exasperated now.
“Just curious.” She leaned her head back and caught his eye. “So?”
With a suffering sigh he looked over at the wall as their bodies swayed. But he kept hold of her hand, and his arm was firm around her waist. She kept her eyes on him and pressed a little on his shoulder.
“Coercion bothers me.”
“So dancing with me is okay?”
“Yes.” He sounded strained as he admitted it and she felt happier.
“So would we be dancing without Ms. Overberger’s prompting?” Evelyn just couldn’t help herself, he was so much fun to put on the spot.
James tried to look fearsome but she just snorted out a laugh and finally let her head fall against his shoulder, like she’d wanted to do for interminable minutes. Then her nose was close to him and she sniffed guiltily, like sneaking a chocolate from the box, and his clean skin scent floated up her nose directly to her brain and her body said yes.
Everything went hotter and tighter and it was hard to breath for a moment. Oh dear, she was locked and loaded now. Seven years out of the dating pool and she was interested in this quiet considerate man who would likely be flummoxed by the idea of her opening her shirt by one more button. He didn’t want to dance with her or even touch her.
Maybe she should try to divert herself with Will Painter after all. He could help her get over Walter, he could help her ignore James and his intoxicating pheromones and big hands and strong arms and…
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Lynn Rae Bio:
Lynn Rae is a romance writer residing in Columbus, Ohio. With professional experience in fields ranging from contract archaeology to librarianship along with making donuts and teaching museum studies, Lynn Rae enjoys incorporating her real-life adventures into her writing (except the naughty parts).
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