Love in Bloom
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Release Date: February 10, 2010
When Amanda meets her old high-school crush, he doesn’t remember her. A bouquet of flowers and a lost towel spark an affair neither one will forget.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
An arm filled with red and pink blooms, Amanda Blakely tugged down the hem of her pink uniform shirt, drew in a deep breath for courage and rang the doorbell.
One minute stretched into two. She rang again.
“All this stressing out over seeing him again, and he’s not even home,” she muttered.
Although why she’d been so excited when she’d written down the name the woman on the phone had given her, she couldn’t have said. The high-school memories she had of Dustin Fremont, if it was even the same guy, weren’t exactly ones she pulled out when she wanted warm and fuzzy feelings. Maybe she was just plain curious.
Or hopeful—that he’d grown a paunch or lost all his thick brown hair.
She shifted the large bouquet in her arms and sighed. This was the last delivery of the day and she was damned if she would try him again later. The roads were getting slushy and a freeze was forecast for the area. She needed to head home soon. She gave the bell one last poke and leaned her ear against the door.
The door swung open and she fell forward with a yelp.
Strong hands gripped her forearms, holding her away, but she thrust out the hand not holding the flowers and her palm slid across damp, naked skin. When she’d caught her balance, she drew in a shaky breath, cringing inside, and lifted her gaze to meet that of the boy she’d crushed on throughout high-school.
Good lord, there was even more of him to swoon over now.
And so, not a boy anymore.
She forced herself to curl her fingers away from his hot, humid skin and straightened away.
“Are you all right?”
His voice was deeper than she remembered but still recognizable for the way it made her body react—with a wash of melting heat. She glanced up and lost her train of thought as her gaze locked with his hazel eyes.
She cleared her throat and nodded, the greeting she’d rehearsed evaporating from her mind like the droplets of water on his skin.
He’d changed. Gotten…thicker. Everywhere. Tanned skin stretched deliciously over a well-muscled frame.
She had a reason for being here—but what was it? She was sure it had nothing to do with the towel beginning to loosen at his waist.
“Flowers,” she said, thrusting the bouquet of roses and carnations at him.
The blossoms slapped his naked chest and he instinctively curved an arm around them, his expression bemused.
He should have looked ridiculous, holding a pretty, feminine armful of flowers against his golden chest with a white towel tucked around his hips, but Mandy couldn’t suppress the little whimpering sigh that slipped between her slackened jaws at the sight of all his manly glory.
His head canted at the sound, his gaze narrowing on her as though seeing her for the first time.
“They’re for you,” she said stupidly, wishing the ground would open up and swallow her whole.
His gaze went to the flowers and his eyebrows lowered as he stared at the bouquet, a hint of irritation that pricked her to gather her wits.
“There’s a card. From Simone. Says thanks for…everything. Not that I know what ‘everything’ is, but she told me what to write. Phone in order.” She clamped her lips shut to keep from babbling more.
The corners of his lips twitched. “Guess I should get them into water.”
“She seemed especially eager to get them to you today,” Mandy blurted, then turned crimson. She sounded accusatory. Like it was any of her business why a girlfriend of his would send him flowers as a morning after thank you.
“It’s not what you’re thinking, I’m sure,” he said, his tone wry. Then his eyes narrowed on her again. “Do I know you?”
Rather than answer the question because she’d already embarrassed herself enough, she blurted again. “I was thinking you must be really good.” Good lord, had she really just said that?
“I’m not—” He shook his head. A bark of laughter shook his chest. “Guess I can’t deny it too much or you’ll think I’m gay or sexless.”
“I’d never think that.” Sweet Jesus, would she ever learn to just shut up?
“I know you. That voice.”
No doubt, he recognized her penchant for babbling at him every time he’d smiled at her in the hallway at Reagan High. Her cheeks burned. “Um,” she pointed her thumb down the hallway. “I better go. Delivery boy called in sick. Hope you like the flowers.” She turned and hurried away.
“Wait! What’s your name?”
Amanda kept on walking, pretending she hadn’t heard him. He’d never known it in high-school. Now she was double-damn sure she didn’t want him learning it today.
Amanda turned the corner, hurrying toward the elevator and hit the button. Her heart pounded so loudly, she never heard him coming.
A finger tapped her shoulder. “You didn’t stick around long enough for me to tip you.”
The glance she aimed over her shoulder slid down to his towel, which was still loosening. Because she didn’t think she could take the stress any longer, she reached for the ends working their way free and pulled them together, retucking them at his hips.
When she realized what she’d done, she froze, her fingers still trapped against his skin.