“I’ll be thirty on the day of the opening.”
She blew out a breath and tried to explain her current insanity. “There’s a lot I haven’t done and I plan to do it this year. Consider it my mid-life crisis. I’m thinking of all the things I should have experienced by now, and looking down the barrel of thirty, I damn well plan to do them.”
He made a soft sound. “Like?”
“Drink the worm in the tequila bottle,” she said.
“Why?” he asked, sounding confused.
She’d spent the previous ten years getting the right degrees, the right internships, jobs and contacts. She didn’t have a moment to take a step back and live. Every single one of those moments had been spent getting her here.
Maybe in a year or two she’d get a chance to travel but she couldn’t wait another moment to—let loose for a little while. She felt brittle and old already. All she needed were pearls, a cardigan sweater and a knitting circle of friends.
But, Ian hadn’t asked for all that. “What did you do on your 21st birthday?”
His head tilted back and a glint shone in his gaze. “Don’t remember most of it.”
“Exactly,” she said with barely contained excitement. “Plan to do the same kind of celebrating for my thirtieth.”
“It’s not so bad,” he muttered.
She frowned. “Excuse me?”
“Turning thirty isn’t so bad.”
He didn’t look that much older than her, but she inspected him for any real tells of age. Laugh lines grooved along the skin around his mouth. Lush black strands curled around the collar of his suit jacket. Not a gray hair to speak of. He couldn’t be that much older, but she couldn’t tell at a glance. He had a poise that made him seem mature, earthy.
She pursed her lips. “Still, I’m planning to ring it in with a bang.”
His gaze met hers for another tense moment. The hairs at the nape of her neck rose and her breathing deepened. His hand tightened on the clipboard, but he made a noncommittal noise and focused on the list again.
Jocelyn blinked. No, she hadn’t imagined that moment, but she ignored the tension pregnant with possibility. Nothing should or would break through the invisible and unspoken boundary they’d drawn up weeks ago. A boundary that wavered with just a heated glance.
Finally, he handed her the clipboard. “All there?” she asked.
“Nothing out of place. Let’s work our way from the back to the front.” Ian picked up the crowbar from a table covered with other tools without losing stride.
He stopped at the first lot taken off the truck, put down the crowbar and began to loosen his tie and jacket. He flipped up the sleeves of his shirt and rolled them up his forearms. Yup, bronzed skin. Miles worth of golden skin tanned, not from any Scottish sun but from his travels around the world. Sinew. Sexy. Yup, she had to grip the clipboard and hope that would be enough to rein in the urge to jump him.
“What’s first on your list?” he asked.
Find a lover. Preferably someone with a Scottish accent. “I’ve never had a drunken Karaoke night,” she said without a hitch in her voice.
“The key is getting as wrecked as possible. Otherwise, it’s not half as fun.” With expertise and precision, he pried off the nailed-down lid. “Read it off.”
She told him what should be in there; he nodded and put the top back on. “And then?” She looked down at the clipboard and he tutted. “Your list,” he said.
Have my lover do everything I couldn’t think to ask for. “Skydiving.”
“Exhilarating,” he said.
They followed the same process of him opening the lid and having her read off the clipboard. He had some opinion to give on everything else on her personal list. So much so, Jocelyn wondered how he’d react if she blurted out, “have sex with you,” but then her palms dampened more. That would be insane, impulsive, passionate—everything she’d never been.
Chuck it all. Blurt it out. She considered the words, bit her lip for a second and then asked, “What haven’t you done?”
And then he smiled again—the one that made her panties wet and had her one step away from throwing herself at him.
“A gentleman never tells.”
Oh. Oh. She had to know. And it wasn’t her imagination that could see he wanted to tell her what a gentleman should never repeat.
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