Come For Me, Darling
A steamy small town romance about first love, old houses, and going home.
I take people’s dreams and turn them into reality. As the most famous home renovator on television, I take broken piles of bricks and beams and turn them into forever homes.
That’s why it sucks so hard to see my dream and know that I can’t make it mine.
But now London Anderson, the girl I fell in love with and who has haunted me since high school, has just inherited her grandmother’s falling-down house. And no one’s better with broken dreams than me.
I swear it’s fate finally throwing us back together and I’m not going to waste this chance. I’m putting it all out there. I’ll get down and dirty, use all the tools I have, whatever it takes to convince her that our first love can be our forever love.
*Come For Me, Darling is book one in the Calusa Key series. Go Away, Darling will be out July 2018 and Kiss Me, Darling will be out in August 2018
I waited for London at the ice cream shop. When I asked her to let me know a good time to meet to go over plans she said she’d need a reason to escape for a little while. I suggested ice cream. She picked the time.
Three minutes later the bell above the door jingled and my heart stopped. London wasn’t wearing black. Instead she was dressed to kill in a dark red cocktail dress, matching heels, and a mask of lovely makeup.
I shot up out of my seat like a teenager. “London. You look amazing.” I did not slash the air. I know this because I shoved my hands into my pockets before I could.
She froze then glanced down. “Oh right. Grams’ request. She loved dressing up. The fancier the better. She didn’t want us in black so she requested a party and everyone to wear their best.”
And her best was causing every drop of blood in my body to converge. I could barely speak let alone move. I was rendered incapacitated by her beauty, which in this case was also her sex appeal. Feminine curves, long dark hair, red lips begging to be kissed.
I suddenly felt very possessive of her lips. Those were my lips. They would kiss me and no one else.
“Can I get you some ice cream?”
She gave me a funny look. “Sure. A scoop of mint chocolate chip please.” Then she collapsed into the chair and slipped off her heels. “I’ve been standing for three hours. I need to sit.”
Of course she had. Funerals were exhausting social experiences. So I hurried into action, ordering our ice cream and some bottled water from Miss Rosie while London rested.
Should I ask how it was going or avoid the topic all together? Keep her distracted? She seemed emotionally at her wits end, staring off into space and chewing on the inside of her cheek. I decided to go with distraction.
I picked up a piece of paper off the counter and started creating. When I was done I brought everything over. “Mint chocolate chip for you, strawberry for me, and some water.” I took my seat and first bite of ice cream before diving in. “Pick a color.” I held up the fortuneteller origami game I’d just folded together at the counter. It had four visible sides and a color written on each one: red, blue, green, pink. It was the silly game we’d all played in elementary school. Pick a color, pick a number, get a fortune. Usually something silly or embarrassing.
“Yep. Pick a color.”
Her eyes twinkled. “Okay . . . blue.”
I put the game over my index fingers and thumbs and spelled blue, switching the fingers with each letter, watching London out of the corner of my eye, the way she licked the spoon and played along with my game.
I looked down. “Hmmm . . . my choices are seven, three, nine, or one. What to pick?” There were only two fortunes written underneath because that was all I had time to come up with, but it was fun to play it up.
“Well, you could pick one because you know,” she held up her index finger, “I’m number one. Or you could pick three because it’s just a nice number.”
“What about seven? Or nine?” I took another bite.
“Well you can’t pick seven or nine,” she said simply, diving right back into her bowl.
“And why not?”
“Because seven’s a cannibal and nine is dead.” She blinked at me.
I didn’t get it. “What?”
“Seven, eight, nine. Seven ate nine.” She scooped another bite of ice cream and ate it for emphasis.
The very old play on words hit me and I laughed. “Seven’s a bastard. Poor nine. I had no idea.”
She giggled. “You’ve got to watch out for cannibal numbers.”
“True, true. Okay. I pick one.” I unfolded the flap and held it out. “Read your fortune.”
“Are you serious?”
“Of course I’m serious.” She had no idea how serious I was. I’d spent all night and all day thinking about her. Us. The kids we were together, the incredible bond we formed over books and the simple peace of spending judgment-free time together.
I also spent a considerable amount of time analyzing my immediate physical reaction to her. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I felt warm fuzzy feelings around an old crush. I also wouldn’t have been shocked to feel attracted to the woman she became.
But that wasn’t what happened.
There was nothing warm and fuzzy about it. My attraction to London was immediate, visceral, and primal. The power of those feelings along with my biological reaction had me up all night considering what that meant.
Call it the romantic in me but I was positive all this information meant one thing. Our childhood crush was now a full-blown love affair waiting to happen. How else could I explain being so painfully attracted to a woman I once considered my very best friend?
She hesitated but finally took the paper, then burst out laughing. “Oh I will?”
“Will what?” I asked innocently. I wanted to keep up this game. I liked it when she laughed and I liked it even more when she played along with my ideas.
She cleared her throat. “My fortune says I will marry the first boy I kiss.” Then she put the paper down and cocked her eyebrow at me. “That would be you.”
“I told you I’d marry you one day.”
“Is this a proposal?”
I took the paper and spun it around so I could read it again. “Not yet. Maybe soon.” Then I tucked the paper into my pocket to keep. Maybe next time I’d read her the other fortune.