“Is he the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think of at night? Is he the person you can’t wait to share good news with? Does your busy workday suddenly drag on for hours when you know you’ll get to see him that night?”
“Yes. Yes, yes and yes,” Natalie said almost groaning. “What am I going to do?”
That wasn’t exactly the reaction Colin was hoping for when a woman declared her love for him. Yes, she loved him, but she was miserable about it. Considering this was skeptical Natalie, he supposed that shouldn’t surprise him. She’d go down kicking and screaming.
“Just go with it,” Gretchen encouraged. “Love is awesome.”
That was enough for him. Colin was about to cut it too close if he loitered here any longer. He scooted silently across the plush living room carpeting toward the kitchen to get something to nibble on and wait for Natalie’s return. While he tried to look calm on the outside, he was anything but.
Could it be true? Was Natalie really in love with him? It had only been a few short weeks, but they’d technically known each other for years. Stranger things had happened. If he was honest with himself, he was having feelings for her as well. He could’ve answered yes to all of Gretchen’s questions. Was that love? He was as clueless as Natalie there. He’d loved his parents, his son, but his attempts to fall in love with a woman had failed.
He felt more deeply for Natalie than he had for any other woman, even Pam. He was mature enough to admit that whole marriage had been about Shane, not about love.
Love. Was that what this was?
It could be. It felt different, somehow. Despite everything going on in his life, he was preoccupied with the brunette who had challenged him at every turn. She was like quicksand, drawing him in deeper the more he struggled against her. Colin had gone into this fling keeping his heart in check, or at least he’d tried to. Natalie wasn’t the kind of woman he could settle down with and he knew that. But after spending time with her, he knew this couldn’t be just a fling, either. He wanted more, and if Natalie was honest with herself, he was certain she wanted more, too. It was just a matter of convincing her not to run the moment her emotions got too serious or complicated. She might believe in love now, but he got the feeling that getting Natalie to believe in the beauty and power of a good marriage would be the challenge of a lifetime.
Colin popped a chocolate mint petit four into his mouth, looking up in time to see Natalie and Gretchen stroll back into the room. Natalie looked a little pale from their revealing discussion, her ashen color enhanced by her black dress.
No, Natalie might be in love with him, but she was anything but happy about it.
“You’ve been awfully quiet tonight,” Colin said as they pulled into her driveway. “You’ve hardly said a thing since we left Amelia and Tyler’s place.”
Natalie shrugged it off, although she felt anything but cavalier about the thoughts racing through her head. “I’m just a little distracted tonight,” she said. To soothe his concerns, she leaned in and kissed him. “I’m sorry. Would you like to come in?”
“I would,” he said with a smile.
They got out of the car and went into her townhouse. Natalie didn’t normally feel self-conscious about her place, but after being at Colin’s and Amelia’s, her little two-story home felt a bit shabby. Or maybe she was just an emotional live wire after everything that happened at the party.
“Nice place,” Colin said as he pulled the door shut behind him.
“Thanks. It’s nothing fancy, but it suits me.” She led him through the ground floor, absentmindedly prattling on about different features. Mentally, she was freaking out, and had been since Gretchen cornered her at the party. Yes, she’d been quiet. She’d been analyzing every moment of the past two weeks. Was it possible that she was the one to break their casual arrangement and fall in love with Colin? Surely it hadn’t been long enough for something like that to happen. They’d only been out a few times together.
Then again, Gretchen and Julian fell in love in a week. Bree and Ian fell in love again over a long weekend trapped in a cabin. Amelia had given Tyler thirty days to fall in love and they hadn’t needed that long.
So it was possible. But was it smart?
Her brain told her no. Love equals heartache. But she couldn’t stop herself from sinking further into the warm sensation of love. Colin made it so easy by being everything she never knew she always wanted. She wished he hadn’t been so charming and thoughtful so it would be easier to fight.