Deep breath, Charlotte, I told myself. Deep breath.
He was out a second later, standing in the doorway of my bedroom, thick and square. His damp shirt clung to every muscle. And he had…he had a lot of muscles. Thick round knobs of them. Lean, hard planes of them. He was made of muscles.
He’d been running, or working out or something. He wore running shoes and athletic shorts that were frayed in the same well-used way his shirt was. White earbuds had been tucked into the waistband of his shorts, and dangled down by his…well. Shorts.
His black hair was buzzcut short, down practically to his scalp. And his face, now that the flush was gone and the sweat had slowed down, looked like it had recently taken a beating. His eye was dark and his lip had a cut. His nose looked like it had been broken a few times.
He carried himself like a guy who lived in his whole body. Like every molecule was under his control. I lived in exactly 12% of my body. I wasn’t even sure what my hair was doing.
“You done?” he asked.
All the blood in my body roared to my face. My stomach curled into a ball like a wounded hedgehog trying to protect itself from further harm.
“Thank you,” I said, staring intently at the edge of a tile in my kitchen. It was chipped, the white enamel long gone. “That was nice of you to help.”
“No big deal.” He stepped into the living room and I went back against the wall, giving him a wide, wide berth. Wanting to keep as much distance between us as I could.
He stopped. “What are you doing?”
“You think I’m going to hurt you?”
“I’m not sure what you’re going to do.”
He made a grunting noise and stood there like he was waiting for me to look at him, but I did not. I burned under his gaze and fussed with my sheet, wishing Izzy was set up so I could just work, instead of… this.
Instead of being human with humans.
And then he was gone. Leaving behind the smell of man. And sweat. And it was not a bad smell. It was just different, and it did not belong in my space.
About The Author
M. O’Keefe can remember the exact moment her love of romance began—in seventh grade, when Mrs. Nelson handed her a worn paperback copy of The Thorn Birds. Writing as Molly O’Keefe, she has won two RITA Awards and three RT Reviewers’ Choice awards. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two children.