That was different.
Chele unpacked the bag of groceries, replaying her encounter with Nick. She noticed him in the store and wondered if he’d ever bought a roast before. Tempted to offer assistance, she noticed he stood staring at it for long while, but she decided against it not wanting to offend him. Then he was behind her in line and she got a look at his gorgeous green eyes. The rest of him wasn’t too horrible either. Tall, built, brown hair, clean shaven with a strong jaw and soft curved lips. Yes, she noticed and continued to feel the effects.
Of course, then her idiot move of leaving her keys on the counter just made the whole thing humiliating! Duh! You manage to make a smooth exit that will leave him wanting and forget your keys on the goddamn counter! Jen would be so ashamed!
Chele continued to scold herself while putting away the groceries. Once finished she decided to get some fresh air. Grabbing her Nook and a blanket, her plan was to curl up on the wicker couch out on the porch and lose herself in a smutty romance novel. If she wasn’t going to get any, at least she could read about someone who was.
The air was warm but the breeze was cool. Indian Summer she thought it was called. Whatever it was it was beautiful. Losing herself in the book she didn’t even hear the Jeep pull into the driveway.
“Evening.” She heard his familiar voice and looked up. The first thing she noticed was his uniform. Head to toe in dark green and brown. A badge shined in the light of the setting sun. His green eyes hit her again and she moved.
“Hey, Nick I guess it is a small world.”
“Yeah, I guess so. I wanted to let you know I talked to Jen.” Chele was confused and then it fit. He was the man who walked in on her last night in the tub. Her cheeks burned and she spun bolting toward the door. She prayed he didn’t follow her but knew that was not likely to happen. She would never be that lucky. “Chele—“
That stopped her stride and she turned, her chest raging anger. He had reached the front porch and was just inches away. “How dare you!”
“How dare I what?”
She was as confused by the outburst as he was and she struggled to recover.“What are you doing here?”
His eyes were strong and patient. He didn’t even seem bothered by her attack. “I told you I would come back.”
“I wanted to apologize again for last night. I thought maybe you had forgiven me when I saw you in town, but then I realized you probably didn’t even know who I was.”
“I didn’t…I mean, I am glad you called Jen. I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. Wouldn’t want you to think you had a squatting problem.”
“Turns out you are legit or this would have been a very different conversation.”
The statement irked her and she couldn’t suppress her frustration. “Well, now that you’ve confirmed the truth you can be on your way to go help Smokey the Bear or whatever it is you do.”
He stepped back, ascending the stairs when she caught him mumbling under his breath. “Yeah well, that figures.”
“Excuse me?” Chele stepped to the edge of the porch challenging him to repeat the statement.
“I said, that figures. Meaning it makes sense that Jen would send one of her mental cases up here alone for the weekend. It is typical of her.”
The clear as day insult took her breath and she barely managed to respond. “Did you just call me mental?”
“Do I need to repeat myself?”
“I am not crazy!”
“They’ll just think you’re crazy. You can’t prove I did anything. I’m not watching you, Chele it is a figment of your imagination.”
Everything around her went gray and she reached for something solid to lean against. A voice, far away, like a memory calling to her and she clung to it. “Just breathe, darlin’, you’re okay. Just breathe…” Her mind drifted on the wind while her body seemed immobile. The feeling was odd, surreal as if the world had passed into a thick fog. “Chele, can you hear me darlin’? I take it back, you are not crazy…whatever you need just open your eyes.”
The worlds seemed to merge and feeling returned to her limbs. Warm arms held her and she shifted into them before opening her eyes. The world was still a blur but his eyes made her focus. “Hi…just breathe. You’re okay.”
Chele told her brain to nod but wasn’t sure if it actually obeyed. Her eyes slipped closed. “Stay with me Chele, keep your eyes open okay?” She opened her eyes again as requested, seeing his smile a rush of warmth filled her limbs. “Do you think you can sit up?” She wasn’t sure but he wasn’t giving her much of a choice. His arm braced her back lifting her into a sitting position. Chele took a deep breath and her senses returned.
“I am so embarrassed, I can’t believe I…”
“It’s no big deal, people forget about the thin air. It’s fine, really.”
“I feel like such an idiot. I was screaming at you and I—“
“I wasn’t exactly being a gentleman either.”
“I am so sorry. I am not usually so out of control. I apologize if anything I said offended you.”
He took her hand, lifting her to her feet before looking at her with a smile. “Okay how about this. How about we just start over? Hi, I’m Nick Wall, Forest Ranger and you are?”
“Chele Masters, nice to meet you Nick.” Chele reached out, shaking his hand. She smiled at his smile, still entranced by his eyes. “Would you like some lemonade, or better yet how about some coffee?”
“That sounds great, but maybe you should let me get it. You should probably take a rest for a few minutes.”
“Uh, okay.” He gave her a devastating smile and disappeared into the house.
Fainted…I actually fainted…how positively pathetic…
He returned quicker than she imagined with two glasses of iced tea.
“I guess you know your way around.”
“Uh, something like that.” He handed her the glass of tea.
“Thanks,” Chele shifted to retrieve the glass, and her eReader clattered onto the floor. He retrieved it from the porch before she had a chance, handing it to her. “Thanks, again. I have dropped this thing so many times I am surprised it is still in one piece.”
“What is that thing?”
“This? Oh, it is an eReader.” She explained, pulling the blanket a little closer when he took a seat next to her.
“You like to read?”
“Yeah, I love to read. I go through about five or six books a month. I love my Reader, it makes it so much easier to travel.”
“What kind of books do you like to read?”
“Oh, I love just about everything, but I am a sap at heart.”
“Ah, the gooey romance.”
A giggle erupted from her chest at the reference. “I’ve never heard anyone describe them as gooey but it works.”
“You have to admit purple prose is pretty gooey. If you are going to do it, just go for the good stuff.” The comment got her attention and she met his eyes in curiosity.
“What do you know about purple prose?”
“You don’t want to know.”
Taking a long sip of her tea. “Yes I do, or I wouldn’t have asked.”
“Well, it actually has to do with your buddy, Jen.”
“You know Jen?”
“That is one way to put it—“
“Oh my God you are Justin’s Dad! I didn’t even put it together. You are Jen’s ex.”
Nick shifted onto his feet, his eyes darting in the opposite direction. “Yeah, well maybe I should go—“
“Why? No, It is fine. I mean I’m fine with it, if you are—“ Concerned that she’d offended him again struck her. “Jen has never said anything bad about you if that is what you are concerned about. In fact, if I am being honest, I always wondered why she would leave such a great guy.”
“I’m not that great.”
“Not according to Jen.” She hoped the comment reassured him, it was the truth. Chele had heard lots of stories about the infamous Nick Wall. Jen didn’t regret her separation from Nick, but you could tell she missed him. “So if Jen has any part of this story I already know it is going to be hilarious.”
Come Find Me!
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