Falling for the Guy Next Door(2)

By: Claire Robyns

The same muted strains started up.

She spun about, scowling at the wall. Was it possible? She cut the connection. The music stopped. She repeated the process to make sure, then tossed her phone on the bed and dashed down the stairs.

Her temper was hot enough to heat hell up twice over by the time she’d hopped the low hedge and bounded onto the porch. She ignored the chimes and banged a fist on the door instead.

A moment later, the door opened.

There he stood, his hair a dark, dark brown and slightly mussed. Eyes the same brown, trained on her and softened in amusement. He hadn’t bothered with a shirt. Her gaze skittered over rippled muscle and concave abdomen to where his sweatpants skimmed his hipbone. He hadn’t bothered with shoes either.

“What—” She jerked her gaze all the way back up six foot of gorgeous male. Two day’s growth shaded his jaw. “What are you doing?”

“Sleeping.” He cracked a grin. “At least I was, until someone decided to play musical chairs with my phone.”

He raised a brow at that someone.

Damn caller id. “It’s the middle of the day,” she pointed out.

“I flew in from Kenya this morning and drove straight here from Heathrow.”

That was at least an eight-hour drive. “Why the hurry?”

“Maybe I had an itch for Cornish cream and scones.” He folded his arms and leant a hip against the doorpost. “Why the twenty questions? Did you miss me?”

The fight fled her blood, leaving her suddenly weary. “What are you doing here, Jack?”

His grin faded as he looked into her eyes, long and deep. The kind of look that made one want to lose yourself in. The kind of look that tempted one to forgive and forget. “Let’s just say I came to check up on things.”

Heat crept up her throat. She stepped back, swallowing past a lump of remembrance. “How long do you intend to stay?”

“For as long as it takes,” Jack said.

“As long as what takes?”

“Things.” He shrugged and the grin returned. “But you’re the one playing tag with my phone. Building up the courage to ask me out?”

“In your—”

“Dreams?” he suggested softly.

Megan bristled. “I thought you’d gone and sold your half of the house without even asking if I’d be interested in first option.” She turned and stomped down the porch steps before she slapped that arrogant grin from his face.

“What kind of bastard do you take me for?” he called after her.

“The very worst kind,” she assured him with a glance over her shoulder.

He was still chuckling when she slammed her front door shut behind her. Honestly, she shouldn’t have to put up with this. Thank God she was leaving for London in the morning. Actually… She ran up the stairs to her bedroom and started pulling open drawers. If she caught the night train, she’d have the whole day for shopping before the conference kicked off with the formal ball tomorrow night. Surely he’d be gone before she got back? Jack never stayed put longer than three days, at least not in Corkscrew Bay.

What she wouldn’t give to have never set eyes on the man.

Summer, two years ago

Her middle finger hovered over the backspace key… The duke was tall, dark and incredibly handsome…

Could she make him any more clichéd?

Her gaze drifted outside the window. No inspiration there. Unless one counted Mr. Marlin, which she didn’t. The old man was patrolling his side of the neatly trimmed hedge, up and down, up and down. God only knew what that was about. He was an odd sort, the type who woke up under a black cloud and grew grumpier by the hour.

At least he was quiet. Considering how thin the walls between them were, that made him an excellent neighbour in her book. That’s another cliché.

“Aargh.” She rolled her eyes, was about to bring her gaze back inside, when sunlight glinted off silver halfway up the steep road.

She didn’t know anyone who drove a silver car and, in the year she’d been here, Mr. Marlin had never received a single caller. Corkscrew Bay was bursting with the summer trade, but generally the Private Road sign at the bottom kept them off Bluff Drive.

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