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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:47

“They must have had an interesting relationship,” Savannah said, happy to listen to him talk, to watch him in the shadows and moonlight. Her knight at rest. At ease.

Watching him eased her, too, and the loneliness lifted, the sadness evaporated.

“I think it was an interesting one-night stand.” He grinned. “They weren’t together when I was growing up. But to his credit, he took care of me when Mom died. He got me to school and taught me the piano—” He played something bright, a few notes of jazz and she wondered what other secrets their handyman kept.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“No,” he said, the jazz coming to a slow stop. “But I grew up with a kid. Jack. He’s as much a brother as I could ask for.”

There was a whole lot of heartache going on behind those words and she nearly asked him where Jack was, or why thinking about Jack made him sad, but he cleared his throat and asked, “Where is your mother?”

The coziness surrounding them was split and she suddenly felt the evening cool in the room, the very late hour.

She wasn’t going to answer—things had already gotten too far too fast with him. She could blame the music, but she wasn’t going to answer that question.

She’d let the silence unfold until he got uncomfortable and stood and left. It’s what she did whenever anyone asked about her mother—not that many people did anymore.

“I should go,” he said and she heard him in the shadows, standing to leave and suddenly, she didn’t want that. She didn’t want to be alone. Not anymore. Not right now.

So, the words just fell out of her for the first time in years.

“My mom left us. Here. When my two brothers and I were just kids.”

“A terrible story, I know. I lived it. I haven’t seen her or heard from her in twenty years.”

“No cards, no letters, no phone calls. Nothing.”

Matt watched her, his eyes bright, focused. “You know she’s alive?”

“As far as I know.” The old bitterness welled up in her, coloring everything in bleak shades of gray and black. She put her hand to her chest, feeling the pounding of her heart.

“You have no idea where she is?” he asked and she shook her head.

As if he could read her, as if he knew her, he began the first part of “Für Elise,” the music a balm, the notes winding around them, rebuilding their cocoon against the world. Thicker. Denser.

The music went on until it was just them, just this moment. She didn’t want it to end.

She shifted, her robe sliding open across her legs, which gleamed white in the dim room. His fingers fumbled, hit a discordant note and the music jangled to an end.

Quickly, afire with something hot and wicked, she closed her robe, tucked her legs under her. She could feel him watching her, like sun on her skin, and she was thrilled and slightly unnerved by his attraction.

“Where’s your father?” she asked, filling the silence with the first thing she thought of.

He said nothing, so she leaned around the edge of the chair to better see him, only to find him staring at her. Staring at her so hard it was as if he were trying to absorb her.

His eyes glittered in the darkness, touched with something wild. Something feral that called out to the buried wildness in her.

She couldn’t breathe. Didn’t want to if it would shatter this moment.

The longer he watched her, the hotter the fire building in the room became until she couldn’t look away. She couldn’t look away when he stood and walked to her chair as though he owned the room. The world. Never in her life had she seen someone so masculine he practically prowled. It made her feel small and feminine.

He crossed the room, stepping through bars of shadow and moonlight, and she couldn’t move. Couldn’t say anything. Transfixed by the hard hot look in his eyes, her mind shut off.

He stopped in front of the chair, his pant leg brushing the edge of her robe. She should say something, ask him what he was doing. Be outraged or something. But she knew what he was doing and she wanted it.

A kiss. His lips against hers. His breath on her skin.