Hate to Lose You

By: Penny Wylder

“I apologize,” I say, which has happened fewer times in my life than I can count on one hand, but for once, it seems warranted. “I was distracted. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“You can say that again,” she grumbles, and that’s when I notice her broad Southern drawl. I’ve never been one to get hot over accents, but fucking hell, even as pissed off as she clearly is right now, hers sounds spectacular. Or maybe her anger just makes the accent stand out more. She adjusts her purse on her shoulder and narrows those dangerous baby blues at me. But she doesn’t make a move to pick up her groceries. And while I know I ought to offer, I don’t want to end this conversation—or confrontation—just yet.

“I know you’re in a hurry, but we all are,” she adds.

I can’t help it. I laugh.

Those eyes narrow further. Is it weird that she seems hotter when she’s pissed off? Especially when she cocks one hip to rest her hand on it, and tilts her head, just far enough for her long blonde curls to swish to the side and afford me a glimpse of the sexy arch of her neck. God, I’d love to kiss and suck my way down that neck, all the way down to her chest, which is straining under her tight blouse. It’s not too revealing, but it’s tight enough to let me imagine the fantastic pair of tits hiding under there.

“You don’t look like you’re in too much of a hurry to me,” she adds, tone still withering, and my gaze jumps back to meet hers. “You seem to have plenty of time to check out my assets.” Her eyebrow arches.

My smile widens. “Miss, if I’m ever in so much of a hurry that I fail to notice a woman like you passing by, then you can assume I’m either in immediate mortal danger or I’ve gone blind.”

Her cheeks redden at that, but she doesn’t take her eyes off mine. Most women would duck their heads as they blushed, but not her. She stares me down instead. Fucking hell, it’s hot.

Any more of this and I’m going to have to excuse myself before I have to awkwardly walk away from the blood rushing directly south.

“Maybe blatant flattery works for you up north when you’re hitting on women, but down here, we Southern girls prefer our men gallant. You know, the kind who don’t run us over in the grocery store parking lot.”

“So if I hadn’t run you over, you’d be flirting back at me right now, is that what you’re saying?” I smirk.

She scowls in response, but I can tell I’m getting to her by the way her cheeks turn an even brighter shade of red. “You consider this flirting?”

I step closer to her. “That wasn’t a no.”

She tilts her head back to keep her eyes on mine, even though I stand at least a good half a foot taller than her, maybe more. “I’m not the kind of girl who dwells on what ifs,” she replies archly. “I don’t know what I’d do if you hadn’t started off on the wrong foot, because you did.”

“I see.” Someone else jostles past us, and on instinct, I reach out to catch her shoulder, my fingers gripping just tight enough to make sure she doesn’t stumble. And, okay, maybe I pull her a little closer to me, and use the bumping crowd on either side as an excuse to step closer to her again, too. She smells amazing. Something bright and light and floral, but so Southern. Geraniums, maybe. Or jasmine? I can’t place the scent. All I know is that I don’t want to stop smelling it. Forever, if possible. “So,” I continue, leaving my hand resting on her shoulder, and barely an inch of air between us anymore. “If you don’t deal in what ifs, then how can I figure out what you’d do if I tried to make up for that whole impolite collision thing?”

She tilts her head to the side, and for a second, just a second, her gaze drops from mine to my lips. Her eyes jump straight back up, but I grin now, because I know I didn’t misread this. She’s every bit as turned on as I am right now. “Well,” she says slowly, laying into that fucking irresistible drawl of hers. “I guess you’d just have to try whatever it is you had planned to make up for your brutish behavior, and see how I react.”

“I see,” I say again, nodding. At the same time, I gently, slowly, move my hand from her shoulder. Trace closer to her neck, until I cup my hand around the nape of her neck and draw her that last inch closer to me. She inhales sharply as our bodies touch, hers soft and curving against mine, as she arches forward into me. I lower my voice, and she rises up on her tiptoes to hear me. “And what if my apology involved me being a lot more brutish?” I whisper.

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