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by Edna Curry
Description: Pushing aside the large checkbook and pile of bills, he sat at his desk, turned on his computer monitor and opened the program she needed. He set it up for her, then held out his hand for her data disk. Raising an eyebrow, she took it from her purse. "I can do it. You don't have to take the time if you're busy." "It won't take long. Nobody else uses my computer." "Proprietary, aren't you?" "No, just cautious. I can't afford to replace it or redo all the data I have on it." Shrugging, she handed the disk to him and stood watching as he opened the program, loaded sheets of labels into the printer and clicked print. While the printer hummed, Tami said, "Sally said to tell you to plan on staying for supper tonight if you can." "Sure," he said cautiously. Although visiting with her and Sam was a painful reminder of what he'd lost, supper at Sally's house was always a treat. But now he sensed this invitation had strings attached. "She wants us all to meet tonight to put these invitations together and get them ready to mail. We're running short of time." He was right, strings. But it would be worth it, wouldn't it? Besides, he and Tami seemed to be tolerating each other all right. He could make it through seeing her a few more times. Then she'd go back to Minneapolis and be out of his life. Again. Why was that thought depressing? She stood beside him, her perfume drifting into his breathing space. He couldn't avoid noticing her nearness. Awareness prickled along his skin, raising goose-bumps on his arms. He felt her watching him and lifted his eyes to meet hers. He read regret and raw need there, matching his own. Slowly he rose to his feet and stepped closer to her, holding her gaze with his own. When she didn't move away, he put his arms around her and molded her body to his. For a moment she stiffened, then softened and allowed her body to fit into the planes of his. They fit together exactly right, as they always had. It felt like coming home. Tipping his head, he kissed her, first in soft, testing nibbles, then hungrily. His pulse sped up and his heart thudded. He felt as though he'd been starving and now tasted his first food in weeks. She answered his kisses with as much need as his. For a long minute, he enjoyed the taste and feel of her, indulged the fantasies that had been driving him crazy since he first knew she was back. At last he lifted his head and looked down into her hazel eyes. She stared back at him, looking dazed and wondering. "God, Tami, I missed you!" he said, his voice coming out in a croak. "Why did we ever separate?" "I don't know," she answered, sounding desperate and frustrated. "I don't know." He stroked a finger lightly along one blonde brow, smoothing back the silky hairs. "The old magic is still there, isn't it?" "Yes," she said through kiss swollen lips, her voice trembling. "But then, I never did have the sense God gave a goose." Panic surged in his gut as he felt her stiffen in his arms. "What is that supposed to mean?" She pulled away. "It means, this is going nowhere, Cal."
eBook Publisher: Class Act Books, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [222 KB]
Reading time: 142-198 min.
Tami Johanson stomped the melting snow off her boots as she rode the elevator to the top floor of the Minneapolis newspaper's office building. The elevator eased to a stop, the door slid open and she hurried down the carpeted hall to the office where she worked. Was she late?
The large fluorescent-lighted room hummed as usual. She dropped her purse in her desk drawer, took off her snow boots and slipped her feet into high-heeled pumps. Some people already worked at their desks, but others chatted as they stood around the coffeemaker. Good. Joining them, she poured herself a cup of coffee and closed her eyes in appreciation as she sipped the hot, fragrant brew.
She hurried back to her desk and picked up her mail, determined to make up for lost time. She flipped through the usual business stuff, tossing half directly into the round file. The next envelope surprised her--it was from her best friend in high school, Linda Carnell in Conley.
Her pulse sped up in alarm. She never heard from anyone in Conley and didn't want to. That part of her life was over. Especially the part with Cal Lentz in it. Her first love gone wrong. It hurt just to think his name, the rat.
What could Linda want? Tami ripped open the envelope and read, 'It's time for you to make a visit home, Tami. We need you to help plan our ten year class reunion. Don't let us down.'
Go back to Conley? No way. "Ten years?" she squeaked aloud. Had it really been that long? She'd love to see Linda again but not back in Conley. Maybe she should invite her up to Minneapolis.
"Feeling a bit old, Sweetheart?" Tami jumped at the sound of her co-worker's voice in her ear. The stale, acrid smell of his pipe tobacco surrounded her. Arlo dropped his hand on her shoulder and leaned forward to read the letter over her shoulder.
She shrugged his big hand off her shoulder, crumpled the letter and dropped it into her wastebasket. "Damn it, Arlo, don't sneak up behind me!"
Arlo came around to the side of her desk and reached for the letter. When she grabbed it back and shoved it in her purse, he grinned at her. His bald head gleamed under the fluorescent lights and his blue eyes sparkled from his chubby face.
"Why are you hiding it? I'll go with you if you don't have a date to show off. You know I'm always willing to accommodate you, Sweetheart."
"Don't call me that! And I have no intention of going back there," she blurted before she could stop herself. No way would she go anywhere with this guy. Besides being twenty years older than she, Arlo imagined himself God's gift to women, which he definitely wasn't.
Darn. She shouldn't have told him she had no intention of going back to her home town. Arlo loved to dig up embarrassing stuff from everyone's past and then constantly make lurid jokes about it. Now she'd left herself wide open for trouble.
"Aha. Does the old hometown hold bad memories for you? Maybe there was a love gone wrong in your past?"
Her stomach flipped over at his too accurate guess. If he found out, she'd never hear the last of it. She forced a calm expression and lied, "No. I just don't care about small town dinner parties and dull reminiscing."
"Staff meeting time, guys," Sara Anderson interrupted, effectively ending Arlo's grilling. Sara, a tall brunette, frowned at them, then moved gracefully past them into the conference room.