I watched his face, looking for hurt or longing, but it was … amused? If someone had cheated on me, it would have left deep emotional scars, but he seemed to be fine with the fact that his ex-girlfriend had humped her way across the capital city. I squinted and did the math. They had broken up the day of the plane crash… which had been almost seven months ago. Thinking back over my time watching Declan, he had changed, his mood more somber at the beginning, and lightening up as time had passed. I’d barely noticed the subtle transformation, but I’d been going through my own mourning and healing process. I looked away, and played with the back of his hand, which rested on my bare stomach.
He looked down at me. “What about you?”
I pretended to misunderstand the question. “Oh, God no. My shrink is a complete tool bag.” I made a face at the thought of Dr. E in a sexual scenario. “Plus, he knows all about my undying love for you.”
He crooked one brow and I laughed. “Okay, not love. Obsession? Possessive twerk?” I tried out the different titles, then shrugged. “Let’s just say he knows that you and I are inexplicably bound by circumstance.”
“And he hasn’t committed you yet?” He tilted his hand back and I threaded my fingers through his. “No offense.”
“None taken.” I smiled. “He doesn’t believe that I have extraordinary guardian angel powers, but he does think that my attempts to protect you are helping me heal from my mom’s death.” It was surprising how comfortable I felt telling him that. I hadn’t even shared that fact with Ansley, though she’d often accused me of channeling my guilt over Mom into my Declan crusade.
“That makes sense.” He tightened his fingers, squeezing my hand, and I risked a peek upward, into his face. It was kind, non-judgmental, despite the guardian angel mention that always sent Ansley into a tizzy.
“I mean,” I said quickly. “I’m still crazy. Obviously.”
“Obviously,” he repeated with mock severity. “But beautifully so.”
I hiccupped out a laugh, closing my eyes when he reached across his body with his left hand and tucked a loose tendril of hair behind my ear. “Yeah?” I asked, lulled into a dreamy state by the gentle brush of his fingertips across my face.
“And it’s sweet how you watch out for me. How you worry over me.” He leaned forward, and his face came into focus, my eyes drinking in every high-definition detail. His short-clipped beard. The flecks of hazel in his eyes. The concerned pinch of the muscle between his brows. The pale tint of his lips. “I don’t mind it.”
“Thank God, since it seems to be the only thing holding my sanity in check,” I quipped, surprised when he shifted on the seat, his hands sliding under my shoulders and pulling me up into his lap. He was going to kiss me. I could feel it, the crackle of expectation, that heady moment where I wanted it and he wanted it, and I was probably giving him bedroom eyes and all of the signs, and oh my god, I think I’m leaning into this.
And then, Declan Moss kissed me. He kissed me and I forgot about Dr. E. I forgot about his ex. I forgot about my duties as a guardian angel, and any rules I should be following, and I responded as any red-blooded woman would.
I grabbed at the back of his head and, with the rain drilling a romantic cadence along the roof, kissed him back.
Declan watched as Autumn cleaned out the backseat of his truck with the efficiency of a deranged woman.
“That can NOT happen again.”
He smiled as she slung a Pepsi can into a trash bag as if it had personally wronged her.
“I mean, what is wrong with us?” She spun to him, her face flushed, hair wild, and God, he could fall in love with her. He realized it in the same moment that she stabbed the air between them with her finger. “We need to get our act together!”
He closed the distance between them, pinning her back against the side of the truck, a surprised squawk coming from her in the moment before his lips closed on hers. She argued against his mouth, her hands attempting to shove him back even as her mouth fought for more. He slid his hands down her body, cupping her delicious ass and pulling it against him, branding her as his own. Fuck, he couldn’t get enough of her.
When he finally came up for air, she was clinging to him for support. He ensured that she had stable footing, then gave her a quick final kiss. He smiled at her. “Let me clean the truck out. Go get those boots off and relax.”
She scowled at him. “I’m not going to relax, Declan. You obviously aren’t taking this problem seriously.”