Just This Once (Last Frontier Lodge #3)(9)

By: J.H. Croix

“How about we plan on breakfast downtown tomorrow?”

Ellie had already turned back to her quilt and nodded absently. Aidan didn’t know what the rest of today would hold, but he was keeping his options open. Becca had said it was okay to stop by, and he fully intended to make sure she didn’t simply ignore their kiss. One small problem was he was a planner, and he didn’t have a plan. Becca turned him upside down inside and made it hard to think straight. His rigorous military training was usually what he relied on, but it wasn’t much good when it came to matters of the heart and body. When it came to Becca, she stirred deep waters. Years of denying his feelings had sent them flooding out when he kissed her last night.

Chapter 4

Becca stared out the window, idly tracing the edge of the windowsill. Her parents had left to run some errands and later to attend a fundraiser. Her father had retired from the military years ago and busied himself with various local projects. Her mother still worked occasionally as a nurse. Both of them were active in the local community and often attended fundraisers for various community non-profits. They’d invited Becca to go with them, but she hadn’t been up for it. Though she could barely admit it to herself, she was also restlessly waiting for Aidan to call. It was late afternoon, and she was starting to wonder if he would.

Of course he will. If Aidan said he would call, he will. He’s a man of his word. Immediately on the heels of that thought, Becca tried to stop thinking about him. She didn’t trust men, so it didn’t make sense to trust Aidan. It doesn’t change the fact he is who he is. Aidan comes through. He always comes through. She sighed and lifted her gaze. Bellingham Bay was visible in the distance with the famed San Juan Islands peeking out beyond the bay. She took a breath and tried to quell her anxiety.

One kiss from Aidan, and she was a hot mess. She wrapped her arms around her waist and turned away from the window, pacing slowly between the living room and kitchen. She tried to recall the last time she’d kissed anyone. It promptly occurred to her that Kyle held those sad honors. The same day she’d found him in the bathroom otherwise occupied, he’d kissed her goodbye in the morning before she left for work. Well, she supposed it was good she’d finally kissed someone else. When she’d sworn off men, it hadn’t occurred to her that to shut all chances out would mean Kyle would forever be the last man she’d been intimate with. This was a new train of thought, a most definitely odd one, but nevertheless.

No matter how flustered Aidan made her, she’d rather he be the last man she kissed than Kyle. Her belly fluttered and her pulse quickened just thinking about those few moments in his car. He’d set her on fire and made her forget herself. She jumped when there was a knock at the door. She hurried to the door. Swinging it open, her breath caught when she saw Aidan. In the soft afternoon light, he stood there in his tall, dark, sexy-as-hell glory. He wore jeans and a black t-shirt with a leather jacket. Her eyes traveled up his body, pure muscle every inch of the way. Though his days as a Navy SEAL had been over for a few years, he maintained his impeccable physical condition. His almost-black hair curled at the edges of his jacket collar. His blue eyes stood out against the contrast of his dark hair. His mouth hitched up on one side.

“I called, but you didn’t answer. Decided I’d just stop by.”

“Oh, I…” As she started to speak, she realized she had no idea where she’d left her phone. Between last night and sleeping in, she was all out of whack. Her usual days were nothing more than work, work and more work. She appeared to lose the ability to keep track of simple things when her schedule was thrown off track. She met Aidan’s gaze with a rueful smile. “I don’t know where I left my phone. Come on in while I try to find it.”

She stepped back. Aidan followed her inside and quietly closed the door. Having him near instantly sent desire sliding through her veins. Her belly clenched, butterflies amassing within. She took a breath and hurried down the hall to the guest room, calling over her shoulder for him to have a seat as she did. She found her phone where she must have left it early this morning when she tumbled into bed. It sat beside her purse in a jumble on the dresser. Aidan’s number scrolled on the screen as a missed call. She started to rush back down the hall, but paused at the door and turned back into the bathroom.

She eyed her reflection in the mirror. She quickly ran a brush through her hair and dug through her small bag to see if she’d remembered to bring her contacts. She’d tossed the single contact left last night after one had fallen out in the shower and washed down the drain. Of course, she hadn’t bothered to bring extra contacts, so she cleaned her glasses and put them on with a sigh. She hated that she wanted to look as good as she could, but she did. A quick swipe of lip gloss and she headed down the hallway.

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