Page 20 of The Shy Bride

He snorted.

“I am,” she insisted. And then undid the robe that had reminded her of the beautiful blue-green depths of the ocean off Hawaii’s shores to prove it. “See?”


She’d bought the pajama-and-robe set when she’d realized she probably would never see the warm waters in person again. Who would she go with? She didn’t like traveling alone. And she was no longer traveling for her music.

His green eyes narrowed dangerously as she revealed the matching camisole and shorts she slept in. She didn’t know what that was all about, but she was on a roll and not about to stop now.

She recinched the robe and glared up at him. “Two, I don’t have enough curves to speak of to worry about such a thing.” That at least should be obvious to him. “Three, I only answered the door after looking out the window upstairs and recognizing your car in the drive.”

“News flash, Cassandra, I am a man.”

“That’s hardly a secret.” She didn’t know what was bugging him, but honestly right now, she couldn’t expend the energy or brainpower to figure it out. She was too busy trying to hide her reaction to his presence…“The point is, I never answer the door to strangers, in my robe or otherwise.”

“Do you answer your door to your manager in your robe?”

Where were these questions coming from? “Of course not. Bob always warns me ahead of coming over and I am therefore not caught unawares before my caffeine or morning ablutions.”

“Good.”

She barely suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. “I’m glad you approve. Now drink your coffee quietly for a few minutes and let me wake up sufficiently to argue with you.”

“Are we going to argue?”

“Are you going to insist on changing my home?”

“Yes.”

At least he was honest.

She headed for the door. “As you are obviously not going to let me drink my coffee in peace. I’m going upstairs to shower and change. I will be back down when I feel more able to deal with you.”

“Get there fast. We leave for my office in less than thirty minutes.”

“You can leave whenever you like, but I have no intention of rushing my shower, or any other part of my morning regimen.”

“I am not sitting down here and cooling my jets for three hours while you make yourself presentable.”

“Do the women in your life really take that long to get ready in the morning?” No wonder the man got a little cranky. She’d be annoyed by that kind of time-wasting, too.

“Are you saying you do not?”

“I own exactly two types of makeup, mascara and tinted lip balms, what do you think?” She liked stylish clothing, but it didn’t take any longer to put on than jeans and a T-shirt. And if she was in a hurry, she pulled her hair back in a French plait, even if it was still wet.

“I think you now have five minutes less than you did to get ready.”

“I’m not going to your office, Neo.” That was so not going to happen.

“The installers will be here at eight-thirty. You can stay and supervise them, or you can come with me.”

She stomped up to where he leaned negligently against her countertop and poked him in the chest, looking way too edible for a man she wanted to strangle. Only figuratively speaking, of course…mostly.

“Contractors are not tearing my house apart, Neo. It is not going to happen. If one of them so much as tries to trim the lilac bushes, I will call the police.” And then her manager and fire him for getting her into this mess.

After he came over and got rid of the strangers from her home. She was never giving piano lessons away to the charity auction again.

She might have muttered that under her breath because Neo gave her an amused, if increasingly exasperated, look.

“We are going to discuss this rationally.” Neo caught her hand with his, sending the rational thought he was so sure she wasn’t capable of right out the window. “After.”

“After what?”

“After you shower and dress.” He should be angry. She was.

But he looked perfectly calm, even somewhat tolerant, and more than a little amused.

She should be berating him for his assumption, but her throat had gone dry and her mouth didn’t want to form words. It wanted kisses. His kisses. The thought caught her up short. What was the matter with her?

Asking herself didn’t miraculously present her with answers or renew her fading grasp on reality. She really wanted to be kissed by him and that was so astonishing, she wasn’t sure how to handle it. She didn’t know where the urge came from, but it was there. And it was strong.

He was so close. She wanted him closer. Mere inches separated their lips. How many?

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