He pulled in and turned off the motor. His mother gazed down at him through one of the living room windows. No, not just gazed at him, but at them — and then not so much at them, as at Molly. She wore the biggest smile since she’d suckered him into taking her friend’s visiting daughter sightseeing and to dinner. That was six months ago. He’d brought a girl home to mama now. Why hadn’t he seen that train wreck looming on the horizon. He yanked off his sunglasses and tossed them onto the dashboard. Then he slid out of the car and walked around to open Molly’s door.
“Come on.” He extended his hand. She glanced at it as if it dripped acid and made no move to offer him one of her soft, delicate ones.
“Come on what?”
He kept his eyes on Molly’s face. That way he didn’t have to deal with the drama that was surely playing out up in the house. Just to make sure he didn’t glance in his mother’s direction, he dropped his eyes to Molly’s cream-colored blouse with the ruffled V that wasn’t nearly deep enough to show off more of her light tan. He let his eyes wander over her short brown skirt to her legs. Long, bare, tan legs. She must have figured on a lot of walking, as she’d traded Friday’s strappy sandals for flat-heeled shoes. It didn’t matter. Even if she wore combat boots, Molly Hewitt was the kind of woman who encouraged a man’s heartbeat to break into a sprint. There were extra ticks in his now. He bent and leaned in closer.
“Come on inside. I have to make an appearance. It’s a brunch for the out-of-town relatives who were at my brother’s wedding yesterday. I’ll give them a quick hello and good-bye. Twenty minutes tops, and we’re out of here.”
“That’s okay. I’ll wait in the car.”
A covert glance at the house told him that would work about as well as a hammer without a head. He’d never intended to leave her outside. Jeez, why couldn’t he just show up with a woman who landed a one-two punch to his gut and made him hot but who wasn’t “the One” or even sleeping with him?
“You’ll make me look like an a-ho … a jerk if I leave you here.” He plastered a smile across his face — the kind that rarely failed when beamed at a woman.
“You could have stopped by earlier.”
“I didn’t want you to stand around and wait in case I got hung up.” He took the folders from her lap and dumped them on the floor. Then he caught hold of her arm. With his other hand, he unsnapped her seat belt, clasped her tightly around her waist, and almost lifted her out of the vehicle.
“Well, okay, if it’s that important.” She showed as much enthusiasm as if he were about to introduce her at a nudists’ convention. And she hadn’t even spotted his mother yet. She slung her purse over her shoulder, straightened the neckline of her blouse, and fiddled with her belt. The sun hit her hair and gave it an interesting copper sheen. He caught the subtle scent of strawberries.
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