“It’s just a rough sketch so that you could visualize what I was thinking.”
“It’s a better drawing than most architects or graphic artists can do by hand. What’s your training?”
“I’m not trained. I’ve just been drawing weddings all my life.” When he looked confused, she explained, “My mother started Dromoland Weddings & Events when I was a little girl, and I sometimes needed to stay with her during the weddings when she couldn’t find a babysitter. She would give me crayons and paper to keep me from getting bored.”
“You were never bored at those weddings, were you?”
“No.” She smiled at the memory, a little girl watching all those beautiful brides and dashing grooms saying their vows, giving each other their first kiss, and dancing in each other’s arms. “I loved it.” Belatedly, she realized she’d lost her focus. Something else that never happened to her, especially during a meeting. “I’m sorry, I know you’re a busy man. I didn’t mean to veer us away from discussing the gazebo.”
“I’m the one who veered,” he said in that low voice that kept doing crazy things to her insides even though she knew better than to let it. “I was planning on heading up to the lake a few days before the wedding anyway, so I’ll take care of building the gazebo while I’m there. For now, I’ll do a drawing with my changes to run by you before I order the wood for it.”
It was the perfect solution to her new plan for Rafe and Brooke’s wedding, but all Kerry could feel was panic about having more meetings with Adam beyond this one. It didn’t make sense, the kind of breathless impact he was having on her, especially when they’d only just met. But just because it didn’t make sense, didn’t mean her heart wasn’t beating too fast or that her lips weren’t tingling from nothing more than his gaze dropping and holding on them while she spoke.
Adam Sullivan was exactly the kind of man her mother had warned her about her entire life. Exactly the kind of man she needed to keep her distance from, no matter how much she might want to bring him closer instead.
“Rafe and Brooke have told me how busy you are with your work as an architect. It’s wonderful that you want to help out with their wedding like this, and I know how much they would appreciate it, but I can’t possibly—”
“He’s my brother. She’s one of my closest friends. Building this gazebo is the very least I can do for the two of them.”
Yet again, it wasn’t poetry, but his words were so heartfelt that Kerry couldn’t help but lose a little piece of her heart to Adam right then and there.
“What else can I help with, Kerry?”
Yet another unexpected offer. One that somehow seemed sensual, even though that was totally crazy. Just as crazy as the fact that she could easily think of a dozen ways he could help her...and none of them had a thing to do with the wedding.
“Everything else is already arranged.” She stood. “Thank you so much for coming to meet with me and for offering to help with the gazebo.”
She held out her hand to shake his politely, but instead of pumping her hand once, he covered it with his and held on. “I want to see you again. And not just to go over my new drawings of the gazebo.”
Inside, her heart was screaming, Yes! But she knew better, knew he was not only everything her mother had warned her about, but also every husband she’d ever seen stray, every groom she’d ever seen leave his bride at the altar so that he could continue to run wild.
“No, I can’t.”
“Are you seeing someone else?”
“I’m not, but I still can’t go out with you.” There were a dozen excuses she could have made—she was busy, he wasn’t her type, she didn’t date relatives of the couples she worked with—but she didn’t want him to think dating her was up for negotiation. Gorgeous men with reputations as players were off-limits. Period.
And yet, despite the fact that she’d now said no to him twice in a row, he didn’t seem at all daunted. “Do you always say no to something you want?”
It was on the tip of her tongue to say, I don’t want you, but she was certain he’d know it for the utter lie that it would be. Thinking about the box of chocolates she was going to devour the second he left her office, she replied with utter honesty, “I never turn down Brooke’s chocolate truffles.”
But she was turning him down, beginning with pulling her hand from his and forcing herself to stop thinking about what kissing him would be like.
“I don’t want to take up any more of your time,” she said in her most polite tone. “I’ll walk you out.”
And though he didn’t try to ask her out again, but simply walked beside her back to the front door of her building and then out into the downtown Seattle streets, Kerry couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t anywhere close to being in the clear yet where he was concerned.
Not only did Adam Sullivan not play by any rules but his own, but something told her that he always won, too.
Adam closed his front door behind him at nine o’clock that evening and headed for his home office. He’d bought his home eight years ago. It had been a wreck—a teardown, according to everyone else who had seen it. But Adam had seen elegance beneath the rot and a foundation of strength in the beams behind the thick ivy covering the windows. The garden had looked beyond repair, too, but his mother hadn’t been the least bit daunted, and over the years they’d spent plenty of weekends working to transform it into something pretty darned spectacular.
The house, however, had been entirely his project, and his passion. The restoration of the old Craftsman had grabbed him by the heart and had shown him what a difference it made when he was one hundred percent invested in a project. In the winter months, when he needed to draw plans or work up quotes, he’d light a fire in his den, sit down behind his antique Arts and Crafts desk, and get to work.
A great idea for the stairwell in one of the historic buildings he was reviving had come to him during dinner, and he wanted to get the sketch down right away. He was glad at least one good thing had come of his date tonight. He’d done his best to pay attention to the woman sitting across from him, an aspiring actress who had been all but throwing herself at him during their too-long meal. But Adam couldn’t get the image of the shockingly sexy wedding planner out of his head. Heck, it was going to take some serious focus to sketch his idea tonight, given that Kerry was still front and center in his brain.
He grabbed his pencil and notepad and began to draw and make notes. Nearly an hour passed before he stopped to stretch out his back. After letting his initial sketch sit overnight, he knew he’d make more changes tomorrow.
Before leaving the den, he checked his watch and saw that it wasn’t yet ten o’clock. Normally, he would still have been out with his date, usually back at her place by now. But since he’d dropped her off without so much as a good-night kiss—all while deftly ignoring her hints about getting together again—he’d gotten home pretty early.
Figuring Rafe and Brooke were probably still up, Adam dialed their number at the lake. Rafe picked up after two rings, sounding a little out of breath. “Good to hear from you. I’ll put you on speaker.”