His wide, warm palm grazed her lower back as they wove their way through the tables to the exit. They crossed over the water garden in silence, slowing as they reached a fork in the path.
“Which way?” Deacon asked. “I’ll walk you back.”
“That’s sweet, but you really don’t have to. It’s a five-star resort, not downtown Los Angeles.”
Deacon kept walking. “True. But you know, I took you to dinner and all.”
She arched a brow at him. “It’s also an all-inclusive resort. Maybe I took you.”
“Maybe you did.”
He flashed her that slightly lopsided grin that hit her right in the chest. She conceded to the walk, and together, they followed the brick path. The resort was dark, but
lights along the sidewalk lit the path and shined up the skinny gray trunks of
the swaying palms. It was quiet, and when they didn’t pass even one other
person, she was glad he was walking her back.
She slowed as they came to the breezeway leading to her building and pointed up the steps to the second floor. “I’m up there, so…”
Deacon started up the steps. “I’ll walk you to the door. I’m funny like that.”
She probably should have said no, insisted that she could make it to her door on her own. Because of course she could. But she didn’t insist, just followed enormously glad she’d removed the HONEYMOON banner from her door.
They reached her room, and she turned to face him. Just the two of them now, up here, alone at her door. She felt a slight buzzing in her head that had nothing to do with alcohol.
“Well, Clare of the here and now.”
She rolled her eyes at the reminder of her earlier word-vomit ramble. “It was nice to meet you.”
She stuck out her hand, hoping it wasn’t sweaty.
“It was nice to meet you, too.”
It didn’t feel like a simple handshake as he wrapped his fingers around hers. “I had fun tonight. You turned what might have been a horrible night into something surprisingly nice.”
“Thank you for catching me and saving my top and for dinner and talking and…” And maybe she could stop talking.
A frog gave a low croak, and another answered, but she figured the pounding of her heart was louder.
The buzzing in her head grew louder, and she felt dizzy from looking into his eyes and staring at his lips because she wanted him to kiss her. She wanted to feel those smooth, firm lips on hers, to taste him and feel his arms around her.I’m losing my mind.
“You’re beautiful,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to say that all night.” He lifted his hand and lightly brushed his thumb over her cheek.
Then he leaned in, and she moved. Just…moved. In and up, her fingers twisting in the front of his shirt. She was just falling into the taste of him, just getting that warm,
tingling flood of a first kiss when her brain fully registered that he’d been
leaning in to kiss her cheek.
“I’m sorry.” She swallowed hard, felt a stinging heat flooding into her cheeks, and wished desperately to disappear. Deacon was staring at her in complete confusion. That made two of them. “I’m… really sorry.”
She spun to her door. A stiff wind sang through the open-air hallway, slapping her hair across her eyes. How she got her key in the lock, she had no idea. Mumbling one more apology over her shoulder, she opened the door and closed it behind her. She stood, heart pounding in mortification, her lips buzzing.
The champagne glasses and fruit and cheese tray had been cleared. The bed had been turned back, and the damn swans were back, nestled in the center of the bed and kissing right on their terrycloth lips.
Claudia Connor is the author of the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling series, The McKinney Brothers. Her debut novel, WORTH THE FALL, hit the New York Times Bestsellers list in 2014 and received numerous Best Contemporary Romance of 2014 accolades.
Claudia attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in early childhood education. After teaching kindergarten and first grade for ten years, she retired to be a full-time mom to her three daughters. Always a lover of books, and always one to have stories playing in her mind, she decided to try her hand at writing. It took seven years to finish her first novel and a new love was born.
Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and a singer-songwriter Siberian Husky. She continues to write warm, heartfelt, and emotional romances with a bit of steam, a lot of family and always a happily ever after.