Sara looked up from the knitting in her lap and gazed out the train window. For the past several hours there had been nothing but flat prairie land to see. But now, in the distance, she caught a glimpse of some foothills and, beyond that, the hint of a vast mountain range. At last, the scenery was about to become more interesting. As she returned her attention to her knitting, she suddenly heard what sounded like gunfire. The startled murmurs and cries of the passengers in the railcar quickly escalated into chaos as the gunfire grew louder and the train came to an abrupt, jerking halt. Sara braced her hands against the seatback in front of her, fighting to stay upright as items fell from the luggage rack above her head and crashed to the floor. Several women screamed in fright. A few men stood, looking up and down the train car with expressions of confusion and trepidation. All at once, the rear door to the railcar burst open and a man stood there, his pistol aimed threateningly at the male passengers who were standing in the aisle. “Sit down,” he growled menacingly. Sara’s heart thudded wildly as she stared at him. He was dressed all in black from head to toe, a black cowboy hat on his head and a black bandana shielding all but his eyes. And what eyes they were, blue and piercing, the exact color of—
“Oh, no! Gosh darn it! Not again! Why now?”
Polly pounded a fist on her desk as her computer emitted a series of agonized, whining groans before abruptly shutting down. This was the second time it had crashed this week. And she hadn’t saved the last two pages!
The phone rang at the same time as a ping from the oven timer informed her that the last batch of cookies was done.
Giving her computer a final glower, Polly leaped up from her chair and scrambled through the living room, almost tripping over a stack of old record albums she’d been sorting through a couple days ago and hadn’t put back on the shelf yet. Her bare feet skidded across the kitchen floor as she reached for the phone and turned off the oven at the same time. Tucking the phone against her shoulder, she grabbed an oven mitt from the top drawer near the sink.
“Polly? Are you all right?”
“Hey, Mom. I just burned my finger, dang it. This oven mitt has a hole in it.”
“Why do you sound so shocked? I have cooked a meal before, you know.”
“Hmm, yes, back when my hair wasn’t completely gray. What are you making?”
Polly rolled her eyes. “Did you call for a particular reason, Mom? I’m kind of busy. Lance was just about to kidnap Sara.”
Janet Winslow’s heavy sigh was one Polly had heard countless times before. “I guess it’s pointless for me to ask what your plans are for tomorrow night,” her mother said. “You and that computer are joined at the hip.”
“Actually, we’re not speaking to each other right now. Mr. Butler just crashed on me.”
“Again? I’m sorry to hear that.” But she didn’t sound overly sympathetic. “Then you’ll be free tomorrow night.”
“If I can’t fix it… Hold on, Mom. There’s someone at the door.”
The doorbell rang again. Polly set the phone down on the one free spot on the counter that wasn’t already covered with dirty dishes and cookie-making clutter. She stepped in a puddle of flour she’d spilled on the floor earlier. A trail of white footprints followed her down the hallway to the front door.
Sucking on her burned finger, she flung open the door with her other hand and looked up into a pair of the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
God in heaven, they were the exact color she imagined all of her fictional heroes’ eyes to be, but she’d never been able to find quite the right words to describe them because, until this very moment, she’d only seen them in her dreams.
She tugged her finger out of her mouth and stared at him, her lips parted on a forgotten breath.
Fleetingly, her gaze took in the rest of the man who stood on her doorstep. He was tall, about four inches taller than she, and his shoulders appeared strong and broad beneath his dark blue suit jacket. But, sadly, his features didn’t quite match up to the picture of Lance she’d had in her head since she’d begun writing her latest book. Not that this stranger wasn’t attractive. But he had rather ordinary brown hair that was cut almost military short. His face was a solid, dependable, square-jawed sort of face. It might have been more appealing if the mouth wasn’t set in such a firm, implacable line. In fact, he looked slightly put out about something.
Polly glanced away from that mouth and back into those blue eyes. She imagined them above a black bandana, shooting sparks at Sara’s face as he carried her away on his big black stallion…
“Hello,” the man said.
A hand tugged at her sleeve. “Hi, Aunt Polly! This is Mr. Matthews!”
Slowly blinking, Polly tore her gaze away from those blue, blue eyes to discover Ellie standing beside the man, her face beaming, eyes huge and happy behind her glasses.
“You know. Mr. Matthews, my teacher. I told you about him.”
Polly looked at the man again and made a real effort to focus on him without becoming totally lost in his eyes. He gave a brief smile, one that seemed a little strained. He looked uncomfortable. And who wouldn’t be uncomfortable, she thought abstractedly, dressed in a suit and tie on a hot Indian Summer day? Did he dress like that every day? So neat and formal?
“Uh, yes,” she finally managed to say. “Of course. Mr. Matthews.”
“You’re Polly Winslow.” It was a statement more than a question. He appeared to be slightly shell-shocked, as if he didn’t know what to make of her.
He has a nice voice, she thought. Not too deep, but with a smooth richness in it that made her think of warm double lattes. “That’s me,” she said, relieved to find that she hadn’t completely lost her voice or her senses after all. Blue eyes aside, he wasn’t Lance. He was just an ordinary man. She pulled herself together. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Matthews.”
She stretched out her hand but quickly snatched it back when she saw the flour on her fingers. Feigning nonchalance, she wiped her hand on her jeans before extending it towards him again.
He took her hand a little too hesitantly to please her, so she gave his a firm squeeze to show she wasn’t a wilting flower, thank you very much. His smile seemed even more forced than before when she finally relinquished her grip. Polly gave him her most dazzling smile, and it was his turn to blink. Practically everyone told her she had a killer smile. He seemed a little stunned.
Ellie giggled. “Bet you’re wondering why I brought him here. I told you I’d find—”
“Your niece asked me to take a look at your computer,” Mr. Matthews said quickly, his hand settling briefly on Ellie’s shoulder and giving it a slight squeeze. “It’s been giving you trouble?”
“Why, yes! In fact, it just crashed a few minutes ago for the second time this week. You know something about computers, Mr. Matthews?”
“I know a little.” His tone was reticent.
“Mr. Matthews worked for a computer company before he became a teacher,” Ellie chimed in.
“Well, how nice of you to take time to look at it. I mean, considering you don’t even know me…”
“Oh, he’s got lots of time after school,” Ellie asserted. “He doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
Polly pulled her eyes from his to give her niece a puzzled, admonishing look. “Ellie! That isn’t any of your business.”
Her gaze flickered back to his face to gauge his reaction to her niece’s revelation. His cheeks were ruddy with obvious embarrassment. Polly was going to have a long sit-down with Ellie about this. What had Ellie said to him to induce him to come here? From his demeanor, Polly was pretty certain that he hadn’t come willingly.
“I’m sorry to keep you standing on the doorstep. Come on in.” She took a few backward steps into the hallway, taking a quick inventory of the surroundings at the same time. There were a couple of stray socks in the corner that had fallen from the laundry basket the other morning. She scooped them up and tossed them on the bench in the hall alcove. “I wasn’t expecting visitors, so the place is just a little messy…”
Mr. Matthews paused on the threshold, giving the narrow hallway a cool inspection. He made a motion to retreat. “I can come back another time…”
“No, no. This is perfect.” No way was she going to miss this opportunity to get her computer fixed! “I was right in the middle of a crucial scene. I’m just glad I only lost two pages. It could’ve been worse.”
“Should I take off my shoes?”
“Pardon?” Polly followed his pointed glance towards her bare feet. “Uh, no. No fancy hardwood floors in here. I like to be barefoot when I’m writing. It helps me think.”
She rubbed one foot along the back calf of the opposite jeans-clad leg and made a covert inspection of her attire. She liked to dress comfortably when she was writing. Today’s outfit consisted of raggedy jeans and her favorite sweatshirt that had once been white, but now was a pinkish-gray because she’d accidentally thrown it in with the colors. She would often do hare-brained things like that. Not that she was hare-brained. Just absentminded. She’d be thinking of her story, her characters, and she’d forget current time and place altogether.
Right now, she felt a bit embarrassed and awkward. It was okay for her family to see her like this. But a strange man? A man with Lance’s eyes?
Her gaze flickered back to his face. He’d closed the front door but remained in the entryway. His expression was remote. He looked like he’d rather be anywhere else but there.
“What’s that noise?” Ellie asked.
There were strange beeping sounds coming from the direction of the kitchen.
Polly tossed her hands in the air. “Oh, shoot. My mother’s on the phone. Ellie, can you show Mr. Matthews where the computer is while I talk to your grandma?”
“Sure! Follow me.”
Polly stood in the kitchen doorway for a moment to observe him following Ellie down the hall and into the living room. He had to tilt his head a little to make it under the low archway. He certainly is well-groomed for a grade school teacher, she thought. His suit was perfectly tailored. It looked expensive, as did his leather shoes. And he had a nice build. If his hair were black and a little longer, and if his face was a little leaner, and if he had a dimple in his chin, he just might pass for Lance…
The phone beeped impatiently.
She hurried to the phone and picked it up. Mindful of the man just down the hall, she lowered her voice. “Sorry to keep you holding, Mom. Ellie was at the door.”
“Oh? I thought I heard a man’s voice.”
“Um, yes. She brought her teacher over, Mr. Matthews, to look at my computer. He might know how to fix it.”
“I haven’t met him yet. He sounds young.”
Polly lowered her voice even further. “Mom. He has Lance’s eyes.”
“Really? What does Lance look like again?”
“Like Reese and Colt,” Polly gushed, referring to the heroes in her two most recent stories. “But it’s really mostly the eyes. He doesn’t have the black hair or the dimpled chin.”
“There’s an attractive man in your house?” Janet Winslow sounded ecstatic.
Polly rolled her eyes. “I didn’t say he was attractive. Just that he has Lance’s eyes.”
“Is he single?”
“Mom, you know I’m not looking for anyone right now. My books come first.”
“You’ll be saying that until you’re eighty. Honey, you’ll be thirty in two years! It’s time you got married.”
“You’ve wanted me to get married since I was eighteen. How many times have we had this conversation? Face it, Mom. I might never get married. That’s not important to me.”
There was a long, aggrieved sigh. “I just want to hold your children on my lap before I die.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic. You’ve got five grandchildren already.”
“Yes, but it’s different when they belong to your only daughter.”
Ellie’s giggles drifted from the living room. “I’ve got to go,” Polly said firmly.
“Wait! I called for a specific reason. Your father and I are going into the city tomorrow night to see the ballet. The Ferguson’s had to bow out at the last minute, so I have two extra tickets. Jim Bolton said he’d go if you came, too.”
Polly gritted her teeth. The Bolton’s were her parents’ next-door neighbors; Jim was their only child. He used to pull Polly’s hair when they were kids. Her mother had been trying to push them together for years. “Did he really say that, Mom? Or did you tell him I was already going?”
“I wouldn’t do that,” her mother hedged, guilty as charged.
Eager to hang up, Polly caved much sooner than she normally would have. “Okay, fine. I’ll go. But I’m sitting up front. Last time I sat in the back seat of your car with Jimmy, he kept groping my knee.”
“I can’t believe that. Jim Bolton is the perfect gentleman.”
“Sorry to burst your bubble, Mom. Gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Pausing in front of the hallway mirror, Polly ran her fingers through her hair. It was a mass of wild copper curls that she rarely attempted to tame with hairpins or bands. Brushing the remnants of flour from her sweatshirt, she gave a helpless shrug at her reflection before continuing into the living room.
Mr. Matthews was sitting on the spindle back chair in front of her desk. His shoulders appeared even broader than she’d first estimated; he seemed to dwarf everything around him, making the small room feel even smaller. Ellie was leaning against the desk, her elbows perched on the edge, hands cupping her face as she watched her teacher with what could only be called a dreamy, satisfied expression.
Polly cleared her throat loudly, and Ellie glanced at her. Polly gave her niece a stern look that lost its power when accompanied by a wag of her eyebrows. Ellie giggled.
“This thing is a dinosaur,” Mr. Matthews said, keeping his back to her as he tapped on the keyboard with impatient fingers.
“Mr. Butler is all I need. He’s never failed me since I got him ten years ago. I’m sure there’s a simple explanation.” As she spoke, Polly sidled up alongside him.
He glanced up at her with a confused expression. “Mr. Butler?”
“Aunt Polly names everything,” Ellie explained. “Her car is Alice. The refrigerator is Oprah.”
“I see.” The look he gave Polly was leery, like maybe he thought she should be wearing a straightjacket.
“Do you really?” Polly said brightly. “I know it probably seems strange. My landlord won’t allow any pets, so naming the appliances was the next best thing.” She patted the top of her computer monitor. “Mr. Butler will always be number one, though. Gone with the Wind was the book that inspired me to be a writer. I read it cover to cover when I was ten. Are there any books that have inspired you, Mr. Matthews?”
He hesitated, appearing to be taken aback by her directness. “I guess if I gave it some thought it would be Euclid’s Elements.”
Polly and Ellie both spoke at once, similar bewilderment in their voices. “Euclid?”
“Yes. He was a mathematician who lived three hundred years before Christ.” He kept his attention focused on Ellie as he spoke. “His great work was the thirteen books of the Elements. He’s known as the Father of Geometry.”
“Oh, math.” Ellie sounded bored, even though Polly knew it was her niece’s favorite subject.
“He might be the subject of a book report, Ellie. An extra credit book report.” He gave Ellie a pointed glance.
“I vaguely remember studying Euclid in school,” Polly said. “But I’m afraid math isn’t my strong suit.”
“That’s too bad,” Mr. Matthews said evenly. “Without the beauty of math we wouldn’t have many of the things in life we take for granted. Like computers, for example.”
Polly shrugged, her tone easy. “You’re absolutely right. So, do you know what the problem is?”
“Other than the fact you need a new computer?”
“No!” Polly wailed. “Please don’t say that. I’m sure it’s something that can be fixed. Besides, I really can’t afford to buy a new computer right now.”
He turned slightly in his chair and looked around the room. She tried to see it from his eyes. The room was cozy but cluttered. The sofa and loveseat were old hand-me-downs from her brother, Fred. She’d draped them with cream-colored slipcovers and bought some cute pillows in shades of green and gold. A bookcase took up the width and height of one wall, its shelves overflowing with books in haphazard order; she’d been meaning to organize them. An old stereo system, so old that it had a turntable and not a CD player, occupied a corner. There was a collection of family photos on another wall. Pale green curtains that her mother had made last year framed the windows.
Polly had always considered it a warm room, inviting and comfortable. Ellie’s teacher didn’t look right in it. With his neatly pressed pants and his expensive shoes, he looked distinctly out of place. Maybe if he removed his shoes and loosened his tie…
He turned back to her computer, but not before she caught something in his expression that looked superior and judgmental. She felt a sharp bite of annoyance. Who was this man, anyway? It was fantastic that he was trying to fix her computer, but she could really do without his apparent condescension.
She took a calming breath. “Mr. Butler worked fine until this week. Then he suddenly died on me without any explanation. It isn’t like him to be so rude.”
She heard a barely suppressed sigh as he gleaned through her computer files. “Do you need all these programs? What about these games?”
“I like to play those when I come over,” Ellie said.
“I bought the computer used from a friend,” Polly explained. “He said those other programs would come in handy.”
“Have you opened them in ten years?”
“What programs do you use?”
“Well, just the word processing. I just updated it a few weeks ago.”
She leaned closer to the computer screen as Mr. Matthews continued opening files. Her hair swung forward, a few wayward strands brushing against his cheek. His hands froze on the keyboard.
“Did you find the problem, Mr. Matthews?” Ellie wanted to know.
“Maybe.” He scooted the chair a few inches closer to the desk, breaking contact with Polly’s hair. After a pause, he said, “This computer needs more memory to handle all the programs loaded on here. So, if you don’t need any of these things, I’ll remove them.”
“Not the games,” Ellie implored.
“I’ll get rid of these programs first and see if that makes any difference.” He glanced up at Polly, seeking her final go-ahead and suddenly went still. “Is there something wrong with your finger?”
Distracted, Polly didn’t realize she’d popped her burned finger back in her mouth. She pulled it out with a wry grimace. “It’s just a little burn. I was baking cookies.”
“Mmm,” said Ellie. “That’s what smells so good.”
Polly was startled when Mr. Matthews suddenly took her hand in his, bringing the aforementioned finger towards his face for a closer inspection. Unlike with the handshake, his grip was firm but gentle, his fingers cool against her skin. “This is going to blister. You should put some ointment on it.”
Her voice wobbled a little. He looked up at her with a grim expression, even as his thumb rubbed absently across her knuckles, making her skin tingle in a peculiar way.
The puzzling moment was broken when Ellie, becoming restless, said, “Can I have a cookie, Aunt Polly?”
He abruptly released Polly’s hand, shaking his head as if to clear it as he returned his attention to her computer. Polly was relieved that he wasn’t looking at her anymore. Her face felt flushed. When she blushed, it wasn’t pretty. She took a couple of backward steps toward the hallway. “Sure. I’ll fill a plate. Come with me, Ellie.”
In the kitchen, Polly scraped cookies from the baking sheet and put them on her favorite plate.
Ellie hovered nearby. “What do you think of him?” she whispered. “Isn’t he cute?”
Polly gave her niece a distracted look. “Cute? I really haven’t noticed. But it was nice of him to come over to fix Mr. Butler, if not a little strange.” Her voice became stern. “How did he know about my computer, Ellie?”
Ellie’s eyes strayed away from Polly’s suspicious frown. “I was helping him after class, and we were talking about computers, and I told him about yours…”
“Ellie. Did he offer to come over?”
“Of course! So, do you like him?”
“I hardly know him. Why does it matter if I like him or not?”
Ellie’s lower lip jutted out in disappointment. “Didn’t you feel anything peculiar when you opened the front door?”
Polly sighed with exasperation. “Yes. I was embarrassed that my favorite niece would bring her teacher to my house without warning me first. I haven’t done any housecleaning in two weeks!”
Her niece looked around the room and shrugged. “This is the way it always looks.”
Polly’s mouth twitched. “Well, don’t tell him that. He must think I’m the biggest slob on the planet.”
“No, he doesn’t. You’re the prettiest lady in town.”
“That’s your father and uncles talking. And what has that got to do with anything?”
Her niece scowled at her in reply.
Polly knew she was sounding just like her own mother as she gave another aggrieved sigh. “Here, you carry the pitcher of milk, and I’ll bring in the cookies.”
Returning to the living room, Polly set the plate on the coffee table. Ellie carefully set down the pitcher of milk before returning to the kitchen for glasses.
“So, what’s the bad news, and how much will it cost me?” Polly asked, forcing lightness into her voice.
Mr. Matthews glanced over his shoulder in her direction. “I’ve freed up some memory for you. You and Ellie will have to discuss what games to trash. And don’t save anything to the hard drive for now.”
“You mean, it’s working?”
“I’m pretty sure that it was memory overload. Leave it running for a few hours. If it crashes again, you’ll have to take it to a computer technician. I’ve done all I can.”
He pushed the chair away from the desk and stood, turning to face her fully.
Polly beamed at him. “Thank you so much.”
His eyes slowly skated across her face as one corner of his mouth quirked upwards in an involuntary reciprocal smile. Something seemed to go still in the room as they looked at each other. But when Ellie skipped into the room, the smile vanished, and his face became stern. He made a point of glancing at his watch.
Before he could speak, Polly picked up the plate of cookies and extended it towards him. She didn’t want him to leave just yet. She wanted to make sure those blue eyes were firmly implanted in her memory. “Have a cookie,” she encouraged.
“No, thank you. I should be going. I have dinner plans tonight.”
“It’ll take you less than a minute to eat a cookie, Mr. Matthews.” She kept her tone light and teasing.
“She makes the best chocolate chip cookies in California,” Ellie championed.
His cool demeanor immediately thawed. “Chocolate?”
“Double chocolate chunk,” Polly said.
He grabbed a cookie from the plate and bit into it. Polly watched him with pure astonishment, captivated by the startling change in his expression. His eyes drifted shut as he savored every bite of the cookie. A pleased smile warmed his features. When Ellie giggled, he quickly opened his eyes. His cheeks flushed. “These are really good.” He sounded astonished, as if the state of her cluttered home was a reflection of her baking skills.
He took two more, a hedonistic gleam in his eyes.
Polly set the plate back on the coffee table. Ellie had already poured three glasses of milk. “Please have a seat,” Polly encouraged. “Would you like some milk?”
Mr. Matthews sat down. His mouth full, he nodded. Ellie handed him a glass, her face wreathed in smiles. She gave her aunt a conspiratorial look.
Polly winked at her. “I think we just found a way for you to get guaranteed A’s in all of your subjects, Ellie. Just bring your teacher cookies every day.”
Ellie laughed. “He’ll get fat.”
Mr. Matthews smiled. A real, teeth-revealing smile that made his eyes crinkle at the corners. Polly did a double-take. When he smiled like that, he suddenly didn’t seem so ordinary.
“I confess to a weakness for anything with chocolate in it,” he said with genuine warmth. “But I won’t condone bribery in my students.” He gave Ellie a mock-stern glare.
Feeling relaxed for the first time since she’d opened the front door, Polly settled back on the loveseat, bringing her feet up to sit cross-legged. “How long have you been teaching?”
“This is my first year.”
“And how do you like it so far?”
He took a sip of milk before replying. “Standing in front of a roomful of energetic ten and eleven year olds seems light years away from my previous job. It’ll take some time to fully adjust. But I like it so far.”
Polly smiled. “Ellie said you worked at a computer store?”
“He worked for a computer company, Aunt Polly.”
“That’s right,” he said. “In San Jose.”
“He designed one of the math programs we use at school,” Ellie bragged.
Polly raised her eyebrows. The pieces were beginning to fall into place. He must have been pretty high up in the company. That explained the expensive suit and the way he wore it with such self-possession and ease. “Well! That’s very impressive. I’m awed by anyone who works with computers. As you probably noticed, I don’t know too much about them except the location of the power switch. What makes them work is all mumbo-jumbo to me.”
“Aunt Polly is good at other things,” Ellie said, giving her teacher a persuasive look. “She’s got loads of talent.”
Mr. Matthews sat up straighter. He was beginning to look uncomfortable again. He avoided Ellie’s gaze, keeping his attention on Polly. “Ellie tells me you’re a writer?”
“Yes. I write fiction.”
“Romance novels.” This from Ellie.
“That’s right,” Polly confirmed, her voice light. “But not bodice rippers.”
His forehead knitted in a frown. “Bodice rippers?”
“You know. Those books with the bare-chested man and the scantily clad woman on the cover with her breasts ready to burst from the seams.”
Ellie slapped her hand over her mouth and shook with suppressed giggles.
Polly smiled at her niece before returning her gaze to Mr. Matthews. She caught him staring at her chest, his eyes half-hooded. He quickly tore his glance away, tugging at the knot of his tie as if it were suddenly too tight. “I see.”
Choosing to ignore the tingle of awareness that shot up her spine, Polly babbled on. “I like good old-fashioned, historical romances. Most of my stories are set in the west in the late 1800s.”
“Have you had success getting them published?”
“Not yet. I’m waiting to hear back on a manuscript I sent out a few weeks ago. I have a good feeling about it. I think it’s the best story I’ve written so far. And it’s the seventh story I’ve tried to sell. Seven is my lucky number.”
“Having a book published is no small achievement,” he said. “You must love what you do to keep trying.”
Polly leaned towards him, eager to convey her passion for her work. “Writing is my life. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. When I’m writing one of my stories, I lose all sense of time and place. This house could fall down around me, and I probably wouldn’t notice.” She gave a rueful laugh. “I confess I’m not one of the greatest housekeepers in the world. I hate to be pulled away from my hero and heroine for mundane things.” She shrugged.
The rapid transformation in his demeanor was astounding. He stiffened, and his eyes turned flat. He gave a brief nod in the direction of her computer. “Well, your computer seems to be working fine now. I won’t keep you any longer.” He set down his glass of milk and stood.
“Do you have to leave so soon?” Ellie practically wailed.
Confused, Polly got to her feet. She shared Ellie’s disappointment. Just as she was really beginning to warm to him and vice versa, or so it had seemed, he became all grim and aloof again. She hid her feelings behind a vague smile. “Thanks again for getting Mr. Butler working. Ellie’s been telling me how smart her new teacher is. She was right.”
“It was nothing.”
She led him to the front door, Ellie trailing dejectedly behind them. But just as she was ready to open the door, Polly hesitated. “Oh, hold on a second. I have something for you.”
Not waiting for his response, she swept into the kitchen. Hurriedly, she filled a paper bag with the remaining cookies. When she returned to the hallway, she caught the tail end of something Ellie was whispering to Mr. Matthews.
“…feel anything at all?” her niece asked.
He gave a stern shake of his head and then glanced towards Polly. She moved closer and handed him the bag.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Ellie’s first report card,” Polly teased. “Enjoy.”
He opened the bag and looked inside. “You didn’t have to—”
“Are you kidding? You deserve it. Besides, I’d eat them all myself, and that wouldn’t be good for my figure.”
His eyes grazed over her from head to toe and back again. He seemed to pull his gaze away with some effort as he reached for the door handle. “Well, thanks. It was nice to meet you…Polly. Ellie, I’ll see you Monday.”
Polly and Ellie stood in the open doorway, watching him as he strode down the brick path to the front gate. He didn’t turn around to wave, but continued to walk briskly down the street, around the corner and out of sight.
Polly glanced at her niece. “There he goes.”
Ellie grinned up at her. “I knew you’d like him. He’s perfect for you.”
“Yes, perfect,” Polly said absently. “Ellie, I’m glad you brought him over. Now I know just how to describe the color of Lance’s eyes.” She pivoted on her heel towards the living room. “I’ve got to get back to my story.”
“Do you want to see him again?” Ellie called after her.
“No, that won’t be necessary. It’s time for you to head home, pumpkin. I feel a writing binge coming on. Poor Sara. She doesn’t know what she’s in for. A man with eyes like that will make her fall head over heels.”
Disappointed, Ellie looked at her aunt’s retreating figure. “But what about you, Aunt Polly?”
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