The milestone my characters face is deciding to move from just friends to more...
|Before she left for the City, Arlynn had been convinced she could do it all on her own, Or at least, she was trying to convince herself of that. She had a plan. One that made perfect sense on paper - each item listed and easily checked off. But Ryan was not on that list. She told herself he would never be put on such a list. She had no time for relationships and did not want the complications of dealing with another man. Her last one had taught her too many painful things to want to ever go through that again.
So, she had buckled down, closed herself off and tried to focus on re-formating her career.
But the attraction she felt for Ryan was undeniable. Thoughts of him weakened her reserve as well as sent her senses into overdrive. She could almost hear his deep voice in husky whispers when she could see him in her minds eye. The two of them sitting out on the deck chairs, sipping coffee and watching the sun set. Telling herself they were just friends, almost made her laugh. That moment was illuminated with such electric sparkle that it had burned itself into her psyche.
Closing her eyes, she could envision his warm smile, his wicked dimples, his deep, blue eyes that seemed to hold her spellbound whenever their gazes locked and held for even a brief moment. Her breathing quickened at the thought. Desire rose leaving her feeling both weak and strong at the same time. If she let herself remember the look of his broad shoulders and muscular body, covered only in low slung board shorts, her breath would catch and she'd be forced to draw in slow, deep breaths to calm her racing heart.
We're just friends, neighbours, that's all, she told herself firmly. The rest was nonsense.
But being away in the City changed things. She found herself missing him. After an evening spent chatting with him over the phone, she had found herself pulled in. His voice had soothed her, calmed her as she had discussed her vehicle choices and asked his opinion. He had listened to her and laid out the pros and cons of each truck letting her know the decision was ultimately hers. That had been gratifying. He hadn't forced his opinion or told her what to do. He'd raised his concerns and told her what he honestly thought. It had been a new experience for her. She felt supported, not suffocated.
Past experience had been the more suffocating kind.
He had also joked around with her and filled her in on some of the gossip she had heard from her friend Emily. Another woman, Penny, was interested in him and she'd been hanging around, but he has used his dog and the kitten of Arlynn's he was looking after, to hold her off. Apparently, the woman was allergic to cats. The fact that he was not interested in the woman and was comfortable talking about it, made her feel she could trust him.
That was huge. Lance's infidelity had cut her deeply.
She had been disappointed to end the call when her cousins had come up to get her for movie time. She had promised them. He had understood and chuckled when he heard their antics. That chuckle still tickled her senses as she lay in bed missing him.
She was eager to tell him how her meetings had gone in the City. How her mentor had scheduled a meeting with her agent and how absolutely fabulous that had gone. It looked like her love of illustrating children's books was going to expand to include her own stories. The thought of becoming a published children's book author and illustrator had her dancing. This was her dream and she wanted to share that with him.
Ryan had missed her. He found himself wandering through her cabin with her kitten perched on his shoulder looking at her things. He told himself he wasn't snooping exactly, but doing this, lessened his worry that she wouldn't come back. Thoughts about her going to the City or being closer to her family rubbed at him like a pebble in his shoe. But looking around her place gave the feeling she'd be back. The feeling was especially strong when he moved into her bedroom.
In here be touched the clothes she had left on her bed, the ones not chosen to fill the suitcase, gave him hope. A favourite pair of jeans, one's he'd seen her wearing countless times, lay wrapped around the bed post. He fingered the soft denim. He could picture them on her, cradling her curves like a second skin. Just the thought had his breathing catch and his heartbeat quicken. Desire thrummed through him, leaving his own jeans tight.
The bed itself, was made, but hastily pulled up. That made him smile.
Last night he had gotten the chance to talk to her on the phone. Her voice moved over him like a caress. He’d felt a little like a pervert as he tried to focus on what she was saying and not the how of it. Still he had been aroused just the same. Giving her advise and being asked for his opinion made him feel special. She truly wanted to know what he thought.
He’d enjoyed her laugh and appreciated that she had found his use of her kitten as a shield to ward off Penny quite funny. He’d not wanted to be rude to the woman, she was the mayor’s daughter, but still. Penny was becoming a nuisance. He knew she wanted Arlynn gone and since Arlynn had left town she’d been more persistent.
When Arlynn called this morning to say she would be heading home soon, he had been pleased to hear from her again. She’d sounded so excited. He could hear the bubbled jubilation when she told him she had some great success. He’d worried the success would keep her there, but when she said she was coming home, he relaxed. Arden Falls was home. That had to count for something.
When he greeted Emily later that morning, he was further thrilled to know that Emily had not heard from Arlynn yet.
“So, she called you first,” Emily had mused giving him a sweet, but mischievous smile, “I should be offended, but I’m not.”
He’d been cool. Not meeting her gaze, as delight surged through him making him palms sweat. He tried to wipe them nonchalantly on his pants, but catching the grin Emily sent him, made the heat rise under his collar.
Arlynn texted Ryan when she stopped for lunch at Weber’s Charcoal Burgers along the highway. She couldn’t wait to see him. Being apart made her realize she was being silly. Ryan was not Lance. He was so much more. She treasured the friendship she had with him, but she also wanted more. Holding herself back was feeling old. The time apart made her see that taking the risk was worth it. She would live, she would risk.
After lunch she continued on. With each mile closer, she could feel the anticipation building. She tried to distract herself with singing, but the lyrics of the songs filled her with a longing that pulled her like a moth to a flame. She had to remind herself to slow down. She didn’t need a speeding ticket.
She had just past the sign marking the Arden Falls cutoff, when she heard a siren and immediately slowed. Glancing at her speedometer, she noticed she was doing the limit. Looking up into the rear-view mirror she wondered, hoped even, that it was Ryan in that SUV cruiser. She pulled over into a rest stop area.
The Police SUV pulled in beside hers. When she recognized Ryan, she could not help smiling. She was temped to jump out and…. Do something, but she restrained herself and stayed put. She watched as Ryan got himself out of the vehicle. He looked very serious. Much like he did the first day she had met him. Was that really only a little over a month and a half ago?
He followed protocol and put his hat on his head before walking over to her driver’s side door. “Can I ask you to step out of the vehicle, ma’am?” he said calmly giving nothing away.
She bit her lip, not sure what to expect and complied. He held the door for her and closed it when she got out. He then led her over to his SUV, turned them and pushed her gently up against his vehicle.
“What’s all this…” she began.
Her words were cut short as he said, “I could get in a lot of trouble for this…” then before she could utter another word, he lowered his head and covered her lips with a searing kiss. His hands came up to cup her face and hold her transfixed. The kiss was one that stole her breath and fired her blood. For a split second she was caught off guard, then bewitched as she pressed further into him and kissed him back just as passionately.
After a moment or what seemed like eternity, he moved back. Both of them breathing heavily. He rested his forehead against hers and smiled affectionately at her. She smiled back. “God, I missed you,” he whispered
“I missed you too.” She confessed in whispered tones. Their breath mingling.
“I wasn’t sure you’d be coming back.”
“What? Why would you think that?” She arched back to search his face, then said, “Ryan, this is my home. You know that feeling you get when you are thrilled about going home?’ Ryan nodded his eyes steady on hers. “I didn’t get that feeling going to my aunt and uncle’s place… sure, was I was excited to see them and buy my truck… but no bubbly feeling. Same with the City. In fact, I was anxious and nervous much of the time. I had lots of success and I had an awesome time with my friends, Jim and David, but I was actually happy to get out of there. I was actually still tense until I got to Weber’s… I had to walk it off and draw for a bit before I was able to get food… then when it was time to come here… to come home… I could hardly wait to get going. That bubbly feeling was there. It was hard not to speed…” she grinned at him and he smiled back down into her upturned face.
“This is really home for you?”
She nodded and said, “It is. My best friends are here, my new life. I love it here!”
“That’s good to know.”
“I do not scare off easily, Ryan. I’m prepared to tackle winter. I have lived farther north than here.”
“So, you can be assured that a little snow… or a ton of snow, is not going to send me running…. Especially if I have some… body to keep me here.” Arlynn swallowed nervously at that admission. She watched Ryan’s face to see if he understood her meaning. The extra gleam in his eye told her, he did.
“That could be arranged.” He said huskily and she laughed delighted by the prospect.
“So, you want to tell Penny, or should I?” Arlynn asked and Ryan chuckled.
“Let’s just let her figure it out. It’ll be more entertaining that way,” he said and they both laughed.
Word Count = 1920.