Where I Belong(7)

By: Claudia Connor

“I guess that’s lucky for me then.” He slid her a look, playful and sexy.

“You’re really not here with anyone?”

“No. My dad was supposed to come, but he had a last-minute business trip. I’m still hoping he can join me later in the week.”

“Well, maybe I can keep you company until then.”

He’d meant it as a joke—probably, but the thought sent butterflies dancing again.

“What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Um… Sun. Sand. Reading. That’s about it. What about you?”

“I’m going to beat Winters and Neal in golf.”

“You sound confident.”

“I am.”

She grinned up at him. “Pretty bold for a man covered in baby puke.”

Looking down at his shirt, he wrinkled his nose, then his eyes met hers again and he shrugged. “Nah. Baby puke can’t stop me.”

“Hmm. Well, my dad says confidence is half the game.”

“He’s right.”

They reached the edge of the walkway leading to her condo. “Please thank your parents again for dinner. It was really nice.”

“They enjoyed having you. Everyone did. But I’ll tell them.”

Owen looked at the door to the right of hers, then at the stairwell that led up to the second-floor unit. He shifted, and she was about to say goodnight and go inside when he finally spoke.

“I wondered if you’d like to go out on the boat tomorrow.” His eyes held hers, like points of light she couldn’t look away from. “We could have some dinner. Watch the sunset.”

“Like a date?” Of course like a date. Idiot.

“Yeah,” he said, giving her that slow sexy smile again that made her lose all sense. “Like a date.”

“Um… okay.”

“Five o’clock? I’ll come by.”

Before she could say okay again, he leaned in, and she held her breath. His body didn’t brush against hers. He didn’t touch her at all, except his lips against her cheek, but she felt him everywhere. His heat brought chills to her skin, and his scent filled her head, making her dizzy. Her cheek tingled, and for the seconds that it lasted, she couldn’t breathe.

Then his lips were gone, but his face was still close, his eyes locked with hers. “See you tomorrow,” he said, with one last smile.

She didn’t cover her kissed cheek with her hand, but the effect was the same. Standing, gaping after him, Charlotte felt as if she’d just been hit by a train. A sexy man train named Owen Anderson.

Chapter 3

AT EXACTLY five o’clock the next day, Owen paused at the door of Charlotte’s condo. He wiped his hands over his khaki shorts then brushed them down the tails of his shirt. Casual, Trish had said, with the shorts and leather flip flops, and the short-sleeve button-up said he cared. As if he couldn’t dress himself. She’d been telling him what to wear since she was old enough to talk, and now his cousin-in–law, Mia, had joined in—though she had a gentle way of telling him what to do while making him think it was his own idea.

Even six-year-old Clara had stood next to her mom, hands on hips, critiquing his choices. Now that kid had opinions and sass to boot. If Clara had been in charge, Owen would have put on a layer of glittery eyeshadow because “it’s special.”

At least Ace and Kyle had given him fist bumps as he left. And so he stood at Charlotte's door, sans Clara’s glitter eyeshadow, banking on confidence from the little guys. This evening was a date, damn it. He knew how to do that.

He gave the door two swift knocks. It opened almost right away, as if she’d been waiting, which made him smile. Then he smiled again when he got his first good look at her. Her short black skirt flowed loosely above her knees, paired with a simple white tank. All simple and understated, in theory. But the small diamond studs in her ears made him want to thread his fingers through her hair, brush it back, and put his lips to her delicate throat. The small silver bar that hung on a short chain around her neck drew his eyes to her chest.

“Hi,” she said, with a quick smile and a flick of her eyes to his before she looked away.

A little shy, and damn if that didn’t draw him in even farther. “Hi.” He waited for her to pull the door closed behind her, then he greeted her with a kiss on the cheek. He’d been thinking about doing that since the last time, and it was just as sweet as it had been before. Pressing his lips to her silky cheek, he inhaled her scent that made his hands itch to pull her closer. A mix of vanilla, berries, and something else he couldn’t place.

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