came to me fully formed (no pun intended). The first scene (where she crashes
into the hero) wrote itself. However, she initially crashed into a sexy PE teacher.
Unfortunately, she captivated him so much (he laughed at all her jokes) that the
story soon fell flat. They were having such a great time I felt that I was writing
a dating manual rather than a story.
So instead of tossing the story aside (I liked Cassie too much, though at times
I could have strangled her) I considered some of the other guys on the field and
noticed one reserved figure that caught my interest. I asked him a few questions.
He gave a brusque reply, but I liked his voice, I liked his manner and he had
an interesting history so I thought ‘Let’s give him a try’.
Exit sexy PE teacher; enter Drake Henson. Unfortunately, that PE teacher stuck
in my mind. As time passed I learned he wasn’t a PE teacher after all but
a rich guy who didn’t do much of anything. However, he was determined to
stay in the story and was very annoyed that he didn’t end up with Cassie.
I told him if he was nice, he could be Cassie’s friend.
But he was crafty and managed to be Cassie’s friend anyway without being
very nice about it. So he became Drake’s nemesis. Yes, you guessed it, that
former PE teacher was Kevin.
Graham knew the moment of impact would be painful. She was certain it was impossible
to have more than six feet of well-muscled male fall on top of you without suffering
a few lasting bruises. She landed with an undignified oof! On the grassy turf
of the park with any belief that grass was softer than concrete forgotten. The
impact knocked off her glasses, turning her world into an impressionist painting
of hazy trees and buildings. She briefly wondered if all the nineteenth-century
masters were just myopic.
“Are you all right?” the man asked. His voice was unusually kind,
which it had no right to be since she was the cause of the collision. His concern
made her feel even more foolish.
Cassie glanced up and two meltingly rich golden eyes came into focus, gazing
at her like a medieval charm that had the ability to put someone under a spell.
She was not sure if it was the expression or the color that brought heat to her
face, but something made her cheeks grow very warm.
She opened her mouth to say that she was fine and assure the poor man that
there was no reason to worry, but words caught in her throat when she glanced
down and realized that he was half naked. He was shirtless, proudly displaying
his Brazilian nut skin in the summer heat.
He hovered above her like a large cat, his solid arms on either side, trapping
her as if she were some unfortunate prey. She knew that she was in no danger,
but the image of his powerful arms and torso made her wary.
“Is she okay?” an impatient male voice asked.
Another spoke up. “Where did she come from?”
Cassie transferred her gaze to stare at the blurry faces of a small semi-circle
of mostly half-naked males. She briefly shut her eyes and groaned. Could the day
become any more humiliating?
“I’ll handle this,” the man above her said. He tossed the
football to one of the men. “Start without me.”
The man stared at the ball and began to protest. “But—“
“I said start without me,” he repeated, his voice firm.
The group of men mumbled among themselves and left. Cassie kept still. Perhaps
if he thought she was hurt he would not be angry.
She heard him softly swear as he moved off her with the agility of the athlete
he obviously was. Cassie breathed a sigh of relief now that she was free of him
and his speculative gaze. Suddenly, his hands were all over her, expertly searching
for broken bones or torn flesh. She gasped when his sensitive fingers slide down
her side like a series of butterflies. She sat up, grabbed his hands, and bit
back a giggle. “Stop that! I’m very ticklish.”
He smiled, flashing brilliant white teeth. “That’s good to know.”
He had a pleasantly deep voice like marmalade on toast. She also recognized a
soft musical lilt that suggested an island birth. It reminded her of her extended
family back home in Jamaica.
“Can I have my hands back?” he asked in a teasing tone.
She saw that she had her hands wrapped around his wrists. He had large worker’s
hands. She wouldn’t have expected them to be so gentle. She quickly released
them, embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“Are you sure you’re not hurt?”
“Nothing that a bowl of asparagus vichyssoise can’t cure,”
she said without thinking. She instantly regretted such a gauche statement, knowing
that she should have said, No, my body does not feel as if it had been crushed
by a car, and left it at that. She opened her mouth to retract that, but he didn’t
He stretched out next to her, resting on an elbow, and said, “Garnished
with chive oil and asparagus tips.”
She paused, surprised that he would be knowledgeable of one of her favorite
dishes. “Naturally.” She decided to test him some more. She narrowed
her eyes, wishing she could distinguish his features and thus read the expression
there. However, at the moment all she could decipher was a beautiful voice and
flashing smile. “Then there would be a shrimp, avocado, and mango salad.”
He shook his head. “No, you’ve already had avocado.” He
reached up, gently pulled a strand of grass from her hair, and twirled it between
his fingers. “How about chicken with olives and preserved lemon with an
Old World Pinot Noir?”
heart began to pound from both his touch and his words. Could it be? A man who
loved food as much as she did? She bit her lip, wondering if she should continue
but unable to stop herself. “And for dessert? It must be something chocolate.”
He thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers. “Chocolate and banana
She grabbed her chest and stared up at the sky. “A man after my own heart.
I have died and gone to heaven.”
The man watched her return her butterscotch gaze to his face, the expression
lovely and wistful. He doubted she knew how adorable she looked with her red blouse
and khakis stained with dirt and her dark brown hair springing from its braid.
She had a pleasant round face the color of cocoa, and a mouth that looked as if
it would taste like sweetened raspberries. He licked his lips at the thought.
That was something he would definitely like to find out.