I think I’ll do this.
This one started it for me.
My first published book.
Lauren glanced up at the sound of a door slamming. Her heart danced wildly for just a moment as she watched the lean hipped, lanky man head her way. At the same time, a weight she carried on her shoulders seemed to grow just a little bit heavier.
He would never love her.
The first time she saw him had been from a hundred feet away and her heart had simply flipped over within her chest. Lauren had been struck by love at first sight, though she had barely been able to make out his face. His face hadn’t mattered, because her heart recognized him.
A week later she actually met him, face to face, when Dale strolled up her walk and knocked on her door, flashing that grin at her before holding out his hand and introducing himself. He flirted casually off and on for several months, raising her hopes, only to have those hopes die a slow withering death when it finally dawned on her that Dale flirted with any and every female he met.
The thing was, Dale Stoner loved women, and women seemed to love him right back. He danced around the line that led to seriousness, but any time one woman got too close, he two-stepped back, quick and pretty as you please.
But, lucky her, good ol’ Lauren was his buddy. His best friend.
She didn’t want to be his best friend. Well, not just his best friend. She wanted him. Ached. Hungered. Wanted to eat him down in three big greedy bites.
“Stop it,” she ordered under her breath. “This isn’t helping you any.”
Five years after losing her heart to him, just watching him amble in her direction, her heart still did the same little dance.
More than six feet of mouthwatering, throat drying, smooth talking male made up Dale Stoner. He had the long, lean, muscled build of a runner, broad shoulders, narrow of waist and hip, and the loose-hipped gait of a cowboy. Dimples creased his face each time he flashed his endearingly sweet grin, burnished gold hair fell over his forehead, tempting women to brush it out of that impossibly handsome face.
Sex appeal in spades, there was no doubt he had that. Lauren could feel her body go on alert whenever he was within ten feet of her. Heart racing, mouth dry, nipples erect, her groin tight and wet. Dale was a walking wet dream, one she saw almost every damn day.
But the most mesmerizing feature about Dale was his eyes, the kind of eyes that could put you in a trance. Thickly lashed, heavy lidded eyes, with pale sky blue irises ringed by deep indigo. They could flash hot with need, burn with anger, or freeze with disdain. Every emotion was reflected in those eyes. When he turned them on Lauren, they held nothing but the deepest affection.
Though Lauren had lost count of the different women he had dated, she was well aware that a number of those women spent a night or two wrapped in his arms atop the huge custom-built king-size bed that sprawled underneath a skylight. They’d leave with a slightly dazed smile on their face the next morning, and in a few days, a new face would appear.
He was arrogant, cocky, funny, and at the oddest times, as sweet as any man could possibly be. When Lauren sprained her ankle earlier in the spring, Dale got up early every single Saturday for nearly a month to take care of her precious garden and cut the grass.
When she had the flu over the winter, he hand delivered some of his prize winning chicken soup, a recipe passed on to him from his mother. He had a fear of anything contagious, which stemmed from a serious distrust of doctors. But he braved the flu, just to take care of her.
Lauren sighed, watching him close the distance between them. She had fallen in love with him the moment she first laid eyes on him, maybe even before that. She had known, deep inside, after that one look. That’s him. He’s the one I’ve been waiting for.
But Dale hadn’t been waiting, or even looking, for her.
“G’mornin,” Dale drawled, opening the waist-high picket fence that separated their two yards. His eyes were more heavy lidded than normal, his hair still wet from his shower, and a grin of satisfaction curved his mouth.
Lauren Spencer barely glanced up from her precious roses as she asked, “Did you have a good time last night?”
“Ohhh, yeah,” Dale murmured. “She’s…amazing.” The little actress he had spent the night with had picked up some unusual talents. That woman could do things with her mouth…
She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Oh, please.” Rising, Lauren dusted her grimy hands off on a towel she had tucked into her back pocket. “I have a feeling you aren’t talking about how well she acts with her theater group.”
Dale grinned wickedly. “Not exactly. I was referring—”
Cutting him off with a narrowed stare, Lauren said, “Spare me the details.”
“And let me guess, you spent the night at home, alone. Again.”
“No. I had a roaring orgy with five different men.”
“Impossible. You don’t know five different men.”
“Sure I do. I just don’t know any whom I would welcome in my life, or my home. Much less into my bed.”
Sighing, Dale followed her through the mudroom into the kitchen. “If you aren’t careful, you are going to grow old alone, Lauren. What are you looking for? Why are you so picky?”
Because the man I love doesn’t love me. Because the man I love is in love with another woman, a woman he can’t have.
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