When Flynn McCauley meets Maddie Gardner, sparks fly. She hates men. He’s not into relationships. She lost her job. He fixed her sink—but that’s not all he wants to fix. When a ride home turns into a lot more, Maddie and Flynn decide to keep things strictly casual. Strictly sexual. They won’t date. And they end up not dating…a lot. But soon Flynn wants more from the wary redhead. If he can just keep her distracted long enough to burrow under her skin, Flynn might convince Maddie they have a shot at real happiness. That’s if Maddie can overcome her past to take a chance on the future.
Standing in front of her door the next day with a bouquet of daisies and praying his brother wouldn’t see him, Flynn waited with a sense of nervous anticipation he hadn’t felt in a long, long time. Before he could knock, the door opened.
Abby and a tall, beautiful blonde stood staring at him in surprise. They were dressed in workout gear, showing off a nice expanse of sculpted legs. A nice way to break in a Sunday after a boring hour of church service.
“Hey, Flynn.” Abby smiled. “Nice to see you.” She glanced at the flowers in his hand and her smile widened.
“Don’t tell me. You’re the handyman.” The blond tilted her head, looking him up and down. Cool, assertive, and attractive. But she didn’t do it for him. Nor did the short brunette by her side.
“Plumber, actually.” He held out his hand, not surprised when she gripped it with a firm shake. “Flynn McCauley.”
“Vanessa Campbell. Nice to meet you. We’d stay, but we’re already behind schedule.”
Abby made a face. “Yeah, late for a date with death.”
Flynn smiled. Abby looked pathetic, Vanessa impatient. A lot like him and Cam when his brother started nagging him to exercise. Luckily, the autocrat had been too busy with work lately to obsess about training. “I feel for you, Abby.”
“I’ll probably drop dead of a heart attack. Flynn, if I’m not back in an hour, call 9-1-1.” She groaned when Vanessa grabbed her by the hand and dragged her into the front yard.
“A little warm-up, then we’ll stop and stretch.” Vanessa rattled off a bunch of tidbits about lactic acid and muscle memory while Abby griped and complained.
“Good luck,” he called after the pair, then turned to see Maddie walking down the stairs.
The woman wore nothing more than a pair of well-worn shorts and a tee-shirt that molded to her curves not constrained by a bra. Thank you, God. She really did have a killer rack. He could just imagine holding those breasts in his hands, feeling their softness as he thumbed over her nipples. Her hair was mussed, and she barely caught a yawn. When she saw Flynn, she stopped in her tracks.
“Morning. Or should I say, afternoon?” When she continued to say nothing, he asked, “May I come in?”
“Sure.” She turned around, raced back up the stairs, and yelled, “Be right back.”
“O-kay.” Flynn walked inside and shut the door behind him. He’d spent the first few years of his life in this house. Something about the open airiness of it had always screamed fairies and pixies to him. Not that he’d ever tell his brothers he imagined fairies had lived in the garden, but hell, he’d been all of four. Then Cam had started walking, and they’d moved a few blocks over into a bigger spread. But he’d never forgotten his fondness for this place.
He shook his head when he saw his impression from Friday remained the same. Everything seemed so tidy. How could people live like this? No clutter, no mess. It was like Mike’s, but without the funk of dirty socks and little kid smell.
“I had to change.” She sounded out of breath when she found him in the foyer again.
“Sorry to put you out.” He smiled, wishing she hadn’t changed a thing. But with or without a bra, Maddie looked incredible. She’d brushed her hair, and he wanted to touch it, to see if it felt as soft as it looked. Her shirt still clung to her curves, but left more to the imagination since she’d put on underclothes.
“What’s up?” She shoved her hands in her back pockets.
He forced himself to keep his gaze level with her eyes. He offered her the flowers. “These are for you. Not only for that apology yesterday, but for freaking out my nephew. I don’t think a girl has ever seen Colin in his Spidey shorts before.”
She flushed and laughed. “He hit a really high pitch as he raced from the room. I hope he’s not too embarrassed.”
“Nope. We McCauleys can handle a lot. Look at me. I’m not too scarred after you caught me in my briefs.”
The pink on her cheeks deepened. “They weren’t exactly briefs.”
Pleased she’d noticed, he continued, “And hey, I surprised you this morning. I guess we’re even.”
She clutched the flowers. “I guess we are.”
Silence settled between them, one fraught with a tension Flynn could only describe as sexual. He would have been content to stare at her all day. She had a darker complexion than he would have expected on a redhead. Not pale, her olive skin turned a delightful pink when she was embarrassed. Her face could have graced any of the magazines stacked neatly on her coffee table, yet her nose had a smattering of freckles at the bridge that stopped her short of perfection.
And her eyes… He was drowning in them, caught in the amber color that looked gold one minute, deep brown the next. He wondered what she saw when she looked at him. Did she feel the attraction? Was his interest flattering, or was he one more creep like all the rest who no doubt fell at her feet when confronted with such beauty?
“I should put these in water,” she said in a husky voice that made him want to take her in his arms and carry her upstairs.
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and followed her into the kitchen, unable to look away from her curves. Man, that ass just begged to be held. “Ah, so the reason I stopped by. My mom and dad are having a picnic next Saturday and wanted to invite you guys. Think you all could swing by around two?” He hadn’t confirmed the date or time yet, but he knew his mother wouldn’t say no, and whatever she wanted, Dad agreed to.
“Oh. A picnic?”
“I’d say I have to check my calendar, but not anymore. I’m free for the immediate future.” She paused. “Man, that doesn’t sound good, does it?”
“You being free?”
“Me whining about my job again. I’m done with that. I’d love to go to a barbecue. I haven’t been to one in years. That’s really nice of your parents.”
“I can’t answer for Vanessa or Abby, but if they’re not working, I know they’d love to be there.”
“Great.” Good, great. She reduced him to one-word answers. He couldn’t think about more than her mouth, watching her form each word with those plump, red lips. She’d been so soft yesterday, and that brief kiss had given him some wet dreams last night. Hell, he hadn’t come in his sheets since he’d been a teenager. But this morning he’d had to dump his sheets in the washer before joining his family for church. Church—talk about a buzzkill. Yet here he stood, across from the object of his fantasies.
“You okay, Flynn?” She frowned. “You look a little funny.”
“Mike told me to leave you alone,” he blurted.
“Cautioned me not to screw over his neighbors, because he didn’t want to deal with a bunch of annoyed women.”
“What do you mean?” She took a step back and bumped against the counter.
He closed the distance between them and caged her between his arms. It gratified him to hear her breathing as raspy and uneven as his. “I know you hate men. That you had a crappy day on Friday. And that you have some things to iron out. I just wanted to thank you for yesterday. Nothing more than that. Okay?”
She licked her lips, and he forced himself to keep an inch or two between them. Fucking her on the counter would have to wait, because her roommates would be back soon.
“Thank me for apologizing? But you don’t have to—”
“Yes, Maddie. I do.” She didn’t understand. He did have to, or he’d lose his ever-loving mind. His lips met hers, and he forgot his own name.
Copyright © 2014 Marie Harte
All rights reserved, Sourcebooks, Inc.