Evan Griffith has done a lot in his life: a stint in the Marine Corps, life as an overworked CPA, investing in his family-owned moving company. But none of that holds a candle to helping people move. On an unforgettable job, he’s involved in a female-on-female brawl, taken by a teenage conman, and falls in love at first sight with a woman holding a knife. Yeah, his life has gone down the rabbit hole for sure.
Kenzie Sykes is doing her best to raise her brother, keep him out of jail, and deal with a broken heart that still hasn’t healed. So of course the sexiest man she’s ever seen has to catch her on an off day.
She doesn’t have time for romance. He’s not asking. Until he is, and she finds herself saying yes. Both of them have loved and lost before, but if there’s one thing Evan knows, it’s that Semper Fidelis is more than a motto, and that real men love hard, and honest men love true.
Kenzie blew through the door, the woman always in perpetual motion. Even at the coffee shop she’d seemed too energetic to be truly still.
“Oh good. You’re here.” She blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. “Nice car.”
“Thanks.” He couldn’t stop himself from staring at her, wondering if she’d get mad if he tucked that strand behind her ear. “Daniel’s in the garage getting the tools.”
She blinked back at him and flushed. Had he been staring too hard? Giving her an odd look? “Oh. Okay. Come on. I’ll show you the water heater.”
They walked downstairs into an airy basement.
“Wow. This place is great.” It wasn’t at all dark. Daylight streamed through several high-set windows, and the walls were painted a warm, buttery yellow, accented with white built-ins and colorful pillows and throws. Facing each other in a loose triangle, three standing desks with large monitors occupied a far corner yet didn’t detract from the roominess of the space.
“It’s home, and it’s work.” She sighed. “I love working from home, don’t get me wrong. But I always feel guilty when I’m not at my desk.”
“I feel the same now that I’m working from a home office.” One he really needed to get organized. Though he had much less than half the workload he’d had at Peterson & Campbell, he had enough to keep an office full of paper stacks and in- and out-boxes.
She led him past a full bathroom down a dark hall toward a large closet. Inside, the water heater labored. He pulled on the chain of an overhead light inside, and she flicked on the hall light, which still didn’t illuminate much.
“Here.” She handed him a flashlight. “Daniel should be coming with those tools.”
She stood close, and Evan did his best to ignore her proximity. But it was as if his every cell was attuned to Kenzie, and he didn’t know how to handle it, having never been so attracted to anyone before. Even Rita had been a slow, steady build toward love. He’d thought her pretty, but his body hadn’t tried to turn itself inside out when near her.
There was something to be said for physical chemistry, he guessed, wondering if Kenzie felt it too.
He turned and tripped over her, of all things. “Oof.”
She stopped him from braining himself on the doorjamb, the two of them standing way too close for his peace of mind. His body started to respond, the feel of warm woman, the scent of lavender and female overriding all else.
“Oh.” Her hands spread on his chest, and she had to be feeling his racing heart. “S-sorry, I didn’t meant to get so close.”
“It’s not a problem.” Unless my heart jumps out of my chest. “Can I ask you something?” His voice sounded impossibly deep, even to him.
“Sure,” she breathed, and the scent of chocolate and mint wafted over him. His favorite combination.
“Is it just me, or are you feeling this too?” He cupped her cheek, knowing he shouldn’t but unable to stop himself. Damn. She was as soft as he’d imagined.
She drew in a breath. “This weird kind of attraction?”
He rubbed his thumb over her jawline, staring at her full lips that appeared to darken under the moving shadow of the swaying overhead light. “Yeah.”
“It is different, isn’t it?”
“Why are you whispering?” he asked as he leaned closer, intent on tasting her.
“Why are you?”
His lips ghosted the edge of her mouth. Her fingers clenched on his shirt, digging into his chest, and his body went rock-hard in an instant, a fact she couldn’t possibly miss.
“Kenzie?” Daniel’s voice grew louder as the sound of his feet on the stairs rebounded.
“Ack!” Kenzie shoved Evan back so hard he bumped his head on the door frame.
“Sorry,” she mumbled and darted away, leaving him frustrated, aching, and annoyed with himself for starting something he couldn’t possibly finish.
Not now, and not with her brother around.