Resisting Her Rival

By: Sonya Weiss



“Abby.”

She whirled around, holding a hand up to her heart. Never mind that he’d scared her, he’d shown up. As promised.

He reached toward her, and Abby shook her head, holding a hand out in warning. “Don’t kiss me again, Nick.” No matter how good it was. No matter how much I’d like that and more.

“I was reaching for the garbage bag.” He grinned. “But if that’s on your mind, it’s a good sign. Plus, you did kiss me back. Very enthusiastically. So much so that I thought you were leading me into a compromising situation. Had the cook not come along, my reputation might have been ruined, not that I would have minded.”

“Oh, please. Your reputation was ruined long before me.” His arm brushed against her, and Abby kept herself still, pushing away the leap of desire that sprang up whenever she was near him. Glad he couldn’t read her thoughts, she fell into step beside him as they walked toward the Dumpster. “Joke all you want, but I know a mistake when I see one. Besides, kissing you back is only a sign that I have normal urges, the same as any other woman, but I’m smart enough not to make the same mistake twice.”

“You sound like you’re trying to convince yourself.” He tossed the bag high into the Dumpster, and Abby admired the way his muscles contracted as he pitched it. If only he wasn’t so damned good looking and so damned good at making love, it’d be a lot easier to be in his presence and stay unaffected.

“No, I’m positive it was a mistake. It was just an urge, nothing more.”

“Uh-huh. Tell you what, Abby, any time you need me to help you out with those normal urges, you call and I’ll come running.”

The hot summer evening rose a few degrees. “Right now, I’m so tired that the only urge I have is to get to bed.”

“So we’re on the same page.”

“I meant to sleep. Alone. And you know it.” Irritated, with him as well as herself, she stopped at the driver’s side door of her station wagon. “Let’s get this out of the way. Where do you want to go eat?”

“If you’re too tired to go out, we don’t have to.”

Surprised at his thoughtfulness, Abby said, “I am, actually. I’m dead on my feet. I haven’t been getting much sleep lately.” In fact, the most restful night Abby could remember having in a long time had been the night she’d spent in Nick’s arms. She’d felt safe, protected, instinctively knowing that anyone who tried to harm her would have to get past him first. But she wasn’t about to give him that ammunition.

“How about we head to your house and I’ll cook something for you?”

Intrigued, she raised her eyebrows, assessing him, trying to ignore his wicked sexiness, but since she had eyes and hormones, that was impossible. “You cook?”

“I was raised by a single mom. She taught all of us boys how to cook. I can even shuffle stuff around to make it look like I cleaned a room.”

“Okay,” Abby said, nodding her head in reluctant agreement. “Then do you want to follow me to the house?”

He motioned to his truck. “Why don’t we ride together? You already said you were tired, and I hate the thought that you might nod off behind the wheel. I can give you a lift to the diner in the morning before I head in to my office.”

She was tired and didn’t feel like putting up with her temperamental car. “That’s fine, but I can use Granddaddy’s car or get one of my sisters to give me a lift in the morning.”

Abby grabbed for the driver’s side door handle on his truck at the same time he did. Realizing what she’d done, she moved her hand out from under his and said, “Sorry. I’m used to being in charge and that includes doing all the driving.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I’m man enough not to feel threatened by a strong woman.”

Warmth flowed through her at his words. “Sometimes I don’t feel very strong.”

“You are, though, and when you’re not, I’d be happy to help hold you up.”

“That smacks of a double meaning.”

His smile caused that little zing to happen again in places that had no business zinging. “I didn’t mean for it to.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You don’t trust me?” He put a hand across his chest.

“Oh, Nick. Of course I don’t.” Abby gave him a smile and got into the truck. As soon as she was in, Nick settled beside her, his body instantly dwarfing the space of the interior. So sexy. So close. So not a good idea.

Abby studied his profile for a second and then asked the question that had burned in her mind for months. “Why me, Nick?”

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