Ian unlocked the car and helped me inside. Then he got in, and I realized that something between us had shifted. He’d let me see inside his heart, even though it was only a quick glimpse, and I felt connected to him in a way I hadn’t felt with anyone in a very long time. My breath started coming faster—that testosterone thing he’d done to me already—and I parted my lips to breathe through my mouth.
His eyes dropped to my lips, then back up again to meet my gaze.
He leaned toward me.
I leaned toward him, across the car’s console. Our breath mingled. He wrapped gentle fingers around my shoulder and pulled me closer. I could taste the warm heat of his mouth even before we kissed.
And then, we kissed.
Oh, my God, we kissed. The sweetest of kisses—soft, shallow, but soon becoming deeper and more meaningful. My eyes closed without my even being aware of it, and when I opened them again, I saw that his eyes were closed, too. Dark crescents of thick black lashes swept his cheek. I ran a hand up along his arm, sliding over his shirt. The contrast of hard muscle under the soft fabric did something to my insides.
His eyes opened slowly, trapping me in a pool of sparkling amber. He cranked the engine. “Let’s get you home.”
Butterflies of anticipation somersaulted in my stomach. Neither of us spoke as he drove the few blocks to my house. The riverside restaurant was so close we could’ve walked there and back if we’d chosen.
The Methodist church was having some event, so the curbside space in front of my house was taken. He parked down the block, and on the walk to my house, he paused to pluck a wild climbing rose from the trellis that arched over old Mrs. Mercer’s sidewalk. He stripped the leaves and thorns from the short stem and tucked the fragrant bloom into my hair.
Then, we were standing on the sidewalk in front of my house.
The white planks of the old Victorian farmhouse glowed under the streetlight. The facets of the antique beveled glass front door sparkled in welcome. Chester roused from his spot on the porch rail and meowed, arching his back and rubbing his face against the upright post. Dimly, I heard the dog door bump as Lizzie entered the house from the side yard, ready to meet us at the front door.
Ian turned me toward him and linked his hands behind my back, holding me loosely in the circle of his arms.
I licked my suddenly-dry lips. “Would you like to come in?”
“Only if you want me to.”
I could have kissed him good night on the sidewalk and gone safely inside. But instead of “Good night,” the words that jumped out of my mouth were, “Come in.”