From the Front Desk
Toby MacPherson is guilty…and innocent, and Wendee Miller is on the run.
Both street wise and life weary, neither are looking for any complications. Yet, life does seems to happen when you least expect it and when these two meet the attraction is palpable. Both employed by the Hotel Del Coronado, their meeting time and again seems unavoidable. Where Toby is drawn to her vivacious personality, Wendee can’t help but be intrigued by the shy giant.
But what will happen when each discovers the other’s secret? Will their new found love be enough to bridge the shock and many hurdles to come? Or will they learn there is strength in trusting another?
Toby leaned farther around the edge but without spotting the object of his surveillance. No sign of the girl.
“You’re not looking for me, are you?”
He jumped, and his forehead banged against the pillar. The voice from behind his shoulder startled him. Toby slipped away from the wall, and faltered two steps before regaining his balance. Losing his footing, he would have landed on the floor had he not grabbed the corner of the column. He regained his stance, embarrassment at being caught flamed before he was able to stand tall. Pulling at the hem, he adjusted his shirt back into place.
In her gold and sand-colored vest uniform with the beige skirt and matching low heels, she was even more striking than in her runners and baggy sweat clothes. She lifted a hand to hide her well-formed mouth, covering her snickers. Her eyes sparkled, the edges crinkled with mirth.
Heat and desire mixed a bold concoction to fire through his veins. At least a head taller, Toby looked down upon her, but the memory of her lips on his consumed him. Stomach clenched, he was lost as to his next move. Toby hadn’t thought this through. He had been focused only on spotting her from a distance, gauging what she was like, then perhaps working up to actually talking. Now, faced with the need for more, wondering what it would be like to be with someone so bold—someone confident enough to know her own mind and be willing to chase it regardless of the fallout, he drifted in a sea of uncertainty. Struck dumb, Toby clenched his hands. How he craved such freedom. For so long he had lived a regimented, restricted life. Her kind of openness seemed as attainable as walking on the moon.
He unclenched his fingers from the column and scooped her free hand into his and pulled her through the corridors, past the back entrances to the many boutiques, to a secluded spot where they wouldn’t be disturbed. This old building, as familiar to him as his houseboat, had been a second home since his arrival almost a decade ago. He didn’t glance over his shoulder to check her reaction for he felt it in the way her fingers twined with his. The way he didn’t need to pull her along, so much as lead the way. Her breath caught on a giggle while they raced down a narrow hallway, and her thumb drew light circles on the sensitive side of his wrist.
Reaching a small alcove, he pulled her into the cool shadows and turned her so her back braced against the wall. Her chest rose and fell in rapid breaths that matched his own. The pink flush on her cheeks was reminiscence of how she looked when she had been running, and his need grew. Keeping his fingers laced with hers, he braced his other palm against the wall by her ear.
She gazed up at him, her amber eyes flames waiting to be stoked.
He bent his head so his forehead touched hers, almost nose to nose. “I don’t do this,” he said with a voice he didn’t recognize. He used a thumb and traced the line of her full lower lip.
Her tongue peeked between her lips before her front teeth followed to pull the bottom lip into her mouth. The sensuality of the movement made the molten desire she had ignited flame, and he breathed deeply to quell his rising need. Her eyes, so wide and full of mischief, gazed at him with a mixture of innocence and seduction.
“Do what?” A small dimple appeared to the right of her lips as she quirked a grin.