Chapter 5 - Joan
My tongue was tied. I couldn’t think of a solitary comeback to his inuendo. I had stopped to admire the imaginative window display at one of the cutest shell shops I’d ever seen. Its former life had obviously been a Victorian, one-story home. The coral color scheme fit into the local vibe perfectly. The owner had removed what had surely been wood frame windows and replaced them with solid glass for optimal viewing of the goods on display. I loved the name of the shop, “She Sells Sea Shells.” The only thing marring my morning was the tenacious landlord at my side. I’d hinted that I preferred solitude, and like so many men, he hadn’t understood. I wanted to think that was the case, because if he’d understood, surely, he would walk away and leave me to my own thoughts. I wished the shop was open, but the sign told me it would be almost three hours before I could go inside.
His response to my comment about being capable had stirred something inside. That husky voice so close to my ear had goosebumps popping up all over my body. I thought about the heroine in the book I’d been reading and the response her body had to the hunk that pursued her in the story. I shivered and sipped my coffee to cover my response to the man beside me.
“Are you enjoying Sea-renity?”
“Mmm.” I nodded slightly. I loved the name of the house, wondered if he’d named it himself, or if it came to him with the moniker.
“I saw you using the hammock. Is it comfortable?”
I turned sharply to face him.
“I came here for privacy. Your ad promised me that. If you insist on ogling me from your deck, I insist that you refund my money.” I crossed my arms and turned back to the window, but watched his face in the reflection. He was unreadable. I’d hoped to run him off, but his only movement was a slight lift of one eyebrow and a sip of his coffee. His dog, Rover, sat patiently with adoring eyes for the man at the other end of his leash.
“I haven’t and won’t be ogling you,” he said with emphasis on the offensive word. “I merely noticed movement of the hammock and, therefore, saw you in it, reading. You must love to read. What’s your favorite genre?”
The man was infuriating. My cold shoulder usually ran men off immediately, but this guy was stuck like a bug on fly paper. I didn’t answer. He took another sip from his cup, which had to be getting empty, because mine was, and it was a larger size. He’s using it as a prop, I thought. I’d rather die than tell him I loved racy romance. He needed absolutely no encouragement.
“I’m not the bad guy here,” he finally said as he rocked back on his heels.
“Are you sure about that?” I asked. I could see my reflection as I raised an eyebrow, something I’d been told could be annoying. Damn the man was gorgeous and unaffected by my usual tactics.
“Why do you insist on pestering me?” I exploded as I twirled to face him, all patience gone. Unfortunately, some of the coffee spilled on my white shirt.
“You’d better get that off and soak it soon. Don’t want a stain,” he said. The glint in his eyes told me he’d be glad to watch as I stripped the shirt over my head.
“I’ll do that,” I said in a huff. I stepped around him and walked quickly toward the rental house, the one I would never have picked had I known who owned it. The sound of paws running told me I’d better pick up the pace if I wanted to leave my nosy landlord behind.
Price and the dog w...