Falling for the Guy Next Door(3)By: Claire Robyns
The car didn’t do a U-Turn at the top of the drive, but continued and pulled up in front of the house. Mr. Marlin’s pacing took direction. Shading his eyes with one hand, he unhooked the gate and held it open.
Megan stood, leaning over her desk for a better view at the guy in a white T-Shirt unfolding himself from the silver Peugeot. His hair was a rich brown and long enough to curl into his nape. Broad shoulders, toned arms with the kind of tan one didn’t get beneath a Cornish sun and long legs that hinted at muscle beneath those well-worn jeans.
He approached Mr. Marlin and stood there talking for a few heartbeats while Megan’s gaze got stuck on the ridges and hollows of a face that was strong, hard as granite and finished off with bold strokes of arrogance. He had a self-assured, forbidding look that was far too male for anyone’s good. But then he gave a lopsided grin that pressed a groove into his cheek and her pulse hiccupped.
Maybe she should go and help out with this straggler. Mr. Marlin was getting on in years and old men were even worse at directions than young men.
Before she could slide out from behind her desk, though, Gorgeous Guy wrapped an arm around the older man’s shoulders in a stiff man-hug. Mr. Marlin’s arm came around, his hand hovering before delivering a hesitant pat on Gorgeous Guy’s back.
“Well.” Megan fell back in her seat. Not a lost holidaymaker then.
Her gaze landed on the laptop screen and suddenly her hero shaped up inside her head. She hit the backspace key and hunched forward over the keyboard.
The duke stood at least two heads taller than her. The superb cut of his superfine jacket gave him a supine grace, yet hid nothing of those broad shoulders and a rock-hard chest. His face was all harsh angles and deep valleys, cast in shadows where no emotion would dare to tread.
But Amelia didn’t cower when he offered his arm. She slipped her gloved hand over his arm and let the Duke of Abberley lead her onto the dance floor. She’d seen his smile and knew his secret. The Duke wasn’t nearly as fierce as he thought himself to be. The music started…
When Megan looked up again, it was past one in the morning. The house was quiet and the silver Peugeot was still parked outside.
Bleary-eyed and highly irritated, Megan stepped off the train at Paddington Station. So much for sleeping on the go and arriving fresh.
Half of her wished she hadn’t left home in such a hurry, hadn’t allowed Jack Marlin to drive her out of her own home, her own comfortable bed.
The other half knew that when it came to Jack, she couldn’t be trusted to stay. Not when he looked into her eyes with that dark intensity, as if he knew exactly how deep to search for the burning ache that had never fully faded, no matter what he’d done.
He’d always known how to melt her and that hadn’t changed. Her head might be spitting fury at the man, her heart might be cursing him to a thousand deaths, but the rest of her still tingled, melted, burned and crashed at the mere suggestion of his touch.
At the end of the platform, she was refereeing the fight between the turnpike and her small suitcase on wheels when her backside vibrated. As she tumbled out on the other side of the turnpike and joined the stream of commuters toward the exit, she pulled her phone from her back pocket.
She immediately recognised the last four digits of the number. She was tempted to delete the text message unread. Unfortunately, Jack came attached to her precious house, for now at least, and there might be an actual emergency.
She opened the message. You never came home last night. Where are you?
“Well, of all the—the—” She shook her head on a bitter laugh, glanced up, and caught the bemused eye of the man walking beside her. Huh! She shoved the phone back into her pocket and stormed outside into the sunlight.
Who did Jack think he was with that proprietary insinuation? They might share a house, but her home was 21b Bluff Drive and his was 21a. She jerked her suitcase over the lip of the pavement and slammed her way inside the glass doors of the Starbucks squashed between a Laundromat and Kebab takeaway on the high street.
Her blood didn’t cool until she was tucked behind a corner table with a large Café Latte in one hand and her phone balanced in her other. In between sips, she scrolled down her inbox, re-read Jack’s message and hit the reply button.