Anika Henry has lost all hope and love of life until one night, a quirk of fate brings her into the lives of Dan Morrison and his daughter, Sherry. Falling in love again has given Anika a reason to look forward to each day—until the day she finds the car. After a horrible confrontation, Ana has no choice but to turn him in. Alone once more, Ana believes that she has lost her last chance at love. Can she and Dan beat the odds against them and find their way back to one another?
The game ended an hour later with Sherry the clear winner, partly because neither Dan nor Ana could concentrate. They’d spent much of the time staring at each other. She wanted him, lusted for him.
Not as a friend. Not even as a boyfriend. Something about the man had ingrained itself into her so deeply it had become part of her. Like it or not, ready or not, she loved this man.
She couldn’t deny the shadow within her spirit screaming for her to take it slow. But neither could she deny the part of her that wanted to move with lightning speed to make him a permanent part of her. The hazy heat in his eyes told her he was going through identical emotions.
He would not be a replacement for JP. Would not be, could not be. But like it or not, JP was part of the past. To have any kind of future, she needed someone like Dan.
No, not someone like him. Him. Dan. I. Need. Dan.
And, he needed her. Not a word spoken but she knew. It wasn’t his daughter’s influence, though she and Sherry also needed each other. She recalled the day she’d fallen for JP. And now, tonight, the same kind of sensations coursed through her. Not identical but close, more mature this time, and devoid of the giddy sensationalism of youth. But exciting!
He cleared his throat. “Ana? You look a hundred miles away right now. You okay?”
Clearing the haze from her mind’s eye, she mumbled, “I’m fine, Dan. Just fine.”
“Good.” He turned to Sherry. “Well, kiddo, time for bed.”
“I know, Daddy. But this was fun. Can we play again?”
“I’m sure we can, honey, if Ana wasn’t bored out of her mind.” He winked at her. “What do you think, Ana?”
“I’d love it. Sherry, would you like me to go up with you?”
The girl nodded vigorously. “Yes. Then you can tell Molly good night. I’d better let her out first, though. Don’t you think?”
“Come on, Molly,” Sherry said. “Let’s go potty.”
She led the dog to the door and waited on the porch for her. Minutes later, they came back in and raced up the stairs with Dan and Ana trailing.
After kid and canine were well tucked in for the night, the adults went back down the stairs, hand in hand.
At the bottom of the stairs, he turned her toward him. He started to say something when she went on tiptoe and kissed him lightly on the lips.
He kissed her back. For long spine-tingling moments, she revelled in the thrill of his kiss, the taste of his lips on hers, the pressure of his aroused body against hers. She’d been right. This was right.
When they broke for breath, he asked, “Does it disturb you to know how much I want you, Ana?”
“No. I was afraid you’d think I’m some kind of loose woman for wanting to kiss the lips right off your face.”
“I think my mind was doing the same thing. But that felt good, didn’t it?”
“Um-hum. I bet it gets even better. Want to find out?”
“So, there’s really something to that lusty rumour about tall, blonde, sensuous Scandinavian women.”
“You have no idea.” At least, there is with this tall, blonde sensuous woman.
He kissed her, fantastic sensuous kisses, over and over again. Years of pent up frustration melted away as she clung to him, allowing him full access to her lips, her body, her very soul.
Her core heated to an impossible state and she wondered what it must have been like for a man to be denied a woman for over two years. More than two if her experience with dying spouses was any measure. A celibacy that now seemed certain to come to an end. Soon. And hers with it.
Suddenly, a pale blonde image floated through her mind, a woman watching from a hazy distance. Instinctively, she cut the intensity of her kiss. He pulled back. “You okay, Ana?”
He looked into her eyes. “You’re not, are you? What is it?”
“I’m sorry, Dan. I love kissing you, I love needing you. I think you know how much I want this.”
“That goes for me, too. So, what’s the problem?”
She struggled with the answer. “Peg’s watching us.”
“I know it’s crazy, but Dan, I saw her. Not here in the room with us, not like that. But in my mind’s eye, I saw her watching from wherever she is now.”
“You mean, like from heaven?” His voice reminded her of a little boy’s.
“I think so. It seemed so peaceful, so soft... Is it wrong for us to be doing this?”
He pulled her close so she could rest her head on his shoulder. “I don’t think it’s wrong. Could you tell—was she smiling?”
“Yes she was. That’s why I’m so confused.”
“Then it’s okay. She understands.”
“I hope so. Have you ever had this happen before?”
“You mean, like with another woman? No. I haven’t been this close to any woman since Peg. Until you came along, I had no desire for romance.”
“But you do now?”
“I do now. Right now. This is right, Ana. You and I belong together.”
“You know it? Just like that?”
“I know it, and I think you do, too. It’s good that you can be sensitive to whether we should pursue this. I love you for that, among other things.”
She stared into his gorgeous eyes for an eternity that lasted at least five seconds. Then she grabbed his head and brought their lips together with a ferocity that startled him. Startled, but did not put him off.