He blinked, as if he hadn’t noticed where they were. “Home?” He looked around him, then back at her, and the way he said it sounded as though it was a personal jab at her. “Don’t know if this will ever feel like home again.” He glanced down at her hand on his shoulder and grimaced, as if he couldn’t stand her touch. As if they hadn’t just danced together not that long ago. She snatched her hand away, her face burning.
“I never thought you’d turn into one of those arrogant guys.”
“You ignored almost everyone tonight, like small town folks aren’t good enough. You can’t wait to chop down a beautiful tree from our childhood. You spoke down to me and now you’re doing everything you can to keep your distance. I get it, you’re here for business, nothing else.”
A soft light shone from the front window, welcoming her home. But there was no one there. When he didn’t say anything, she huffed. “Well, I’m going in. This is my side.” She pointed past his shoulder to his house. “Yours is over there.”
“Wait.” His jaw tightened. “We have a problem.”
The way he said it made her heart pound and she wasn’t sure why. “Yeah, we do. We don’t have to be friends, but you’re making it very hard for us to be neighbors.”
He let out a soft sigh as he searched her face with his intense gaze. She shivered and rubbed her arms. “Nick…”
“I’m attracted to you.”
“What?” She almost laughed but nothing about tonight had been funny. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. After the way you treated me tonight?”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m not sure how to deal with this, but I am attracted to you.”
She didn’t know how to react. “Nick…” His slow words, the intense expression on his face, made her dizzy. How much wine had she had?
He lowered his voice and stepped closer. His face was full of shadows. “I didn’t expect it. I sure don’t like it. We’re not going to do anything about it, but—”
What? “Of course we’re not going to do anything about it. I don’t even like you. Didn’t we just talk about all the reasons? My family. Your family. God, the next door neighbor thing. And Ava. I have a young daughter. Why did you even bring it up?”
Was she deflecting? Was she trying to convince herself too?
No. There was no attraction. There couldn’t be. He didn’t say anything, so she kept going. She shoved her shaking hands into the pockets of her shorts. “I’m just a familiar face after all you’ve been through lately.”
“Doubt that has anything to do with this.”
For some reason she had to keep arguing with him. Maybe because she felt the attraction too. And she was damn sure she wasn’t happy about it “Then it’s the thrill of the forbidden.”
“You feel that too?”
“We used to be related. At least, by marriage. That’s forbidden territory.” As she said it, Melanie wanted to grab onto that soft shirt and plant a kiss on his mouth. Did she believe the forbidden actually turned her on? It didn’t matter. He was right. They couldn’t go there. “We’re not really attracted to each other,” she repeated.
“Look, I don’t know what to do with this feeling, but it’s there. Not going to lie about it.”
“Nick, today’s the first time we’ve talked to each other in more than twenty years. It’s crazy to be talking about attraction. It can’t happen that quickly.”
“Not talking about love. I agree there’s no such thing as love at first sight, but attraction? That can happen in an instant.”
“It’s still not real.” It couldn’t be real. She couldn’t be getting aroused by his tall, broad body standing inches away, his intense gaze sweeping over her, his full mouth just begging for her to taste. Her tongue ran over her suddenly-dry lips.
He tucked a stubborn strand of hair back behind her ear and his touch sent shivers along her skin. “It’s real all right. Not very smart. But very real.” He took a step back. “So stay away from me, and I’ll stay away from you.”
Stay away from each other? That was the best they could do?
His jaw tightened. “It’ll go away. Goodnight, Mel.”
I hope you enjoyed this tiny look at Nick and Melanie in NOT BETTING ON FOREVER. What do you think? Do you believe in love at first sight? How about instant attraction? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll choose one to receive a free digital copy of NOT BETTING ON FOREVER!