Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Flirts – Excerpt Day

     By Tuesday afternoon, I was safely tucked between rows, stocking bath soaps and lotions while scents of lemon and rosemary swirled around my head. Out of the corner of my eye, a man’s form leaned against a shelf on the other side of the store. I was relieved to find the man was actually James. His smile was crooked, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He just stood there, arms crossed, staring at me. My relief turned to frustration and I did the only thing I could. I stuck my tongue out. I’m nothing if not sophisticated. I stood up, turning my back to him, and began folding the embroidered hand towels.
“Hi.” James popped up on my other side.      I dropped a towel and scowled at him. “Hi, yourself.”      He wasn’t usually out on the floor and my little sanctuary was no longer my own. I focused on the towel. It was very important and needed my full attention.      “Teagan?” he asked softly.
I glanced up and his nearness caused my skin to tingle and my breath to catch in my throat. Swallowing hard, I forced my lungs to behave normally and reminded myself I was not a goddamned groupie. Why had I never noticed how thick his eye lashes were? Or that a little dimple in his left cheek showed only when his lips were pursed?      “I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted last week. I kind of came out of left field, huh? And I guess I was just surprised you shot me down.”      I flitted a glance from his eyes, to his full mouth, to his shaggy hair, and back again. I clutched the towel to my chest, a protective barrier between me and something good.      “I wasn’t shooting you down.” Horrified by what I had done to the innocent towel, I smoothed it out on my stomach while James stood in front of me. He was so close his breath blew a wisp of hair away from my face. I was overwhelmed by the unexpected current flowing through me. Was it possible to be more aware of James than I already was? I blinked, thoroughly dazed. “It’s just…I’m not very comfortable going to a bar alone.”      Traitorous tears filled my eyes at the same time I was intrigued by his subtle cologne. The scent was familiar, spicy, something I may have sampled at Macy’s the last time I shopped for a present for Anthony. But the scent was something my ex would’ve never worn and now I was thankful.      “That’s understandable and I’m glad you told me. I guess I should have thought of that beforehand,” he said tenderly.      “Why did you ask me?” I blinked fast to keep the tears from falling. They would only be one more embarrassment to overcome. And my days of shedding tears for a man were behind me.      He shrugged and a tress of his hair fell over his eye. “You just seemed so…”      Oh, Lord. Don’t you dare say alone!

Winter Twilight
by Shannon O’Brien
(Snowbound Hearts – January 2012 Anthology)