He stepped toward the corner where he’d hidden his wallet and the files. All his truth, right there, steps away from where they’d kissed.
He wondered what it had cost her to come in here. How much of that formidable pride she’d had to swallow. To risk rejection. To press her perfect body against his and lay herself bare.
He picked up his wallet and the files, heavy in his hands as if the information were weighted. Cannon balls he’d been using against the O’Neills.
What would she think if he vanished? He couldn’t even stand to contemplate the baffled hurt in those blue eyes. It would be the ultimate rejection.
He sighed and stared at the moonlight through the glass roof.
He was a coward, a miserable liar, but he couldn’t do that to her. He simply couldn’t.
That left him with two options—more lies or the truth.
He took a deep breath and knew he couldn’t tell any more lies.
He hated the person he was turning into, the man he was becoming.
He could fix this. Make it right.
Just the thought had him putting the files back under the pot.
Tomorrow, he told himself, he’d tell her the truth.
THE NEXT MORNING, Savannah wasn’t fooling around. She perched on the counter and made herself a breakfast of hot coffee and cold sugar pie.
She’d barely slept last night, her body running hot and her mind concocting fabulous fantasies about Matt. Finally, she gave up the fight and decided to have some breakfast before the whole house woke up.
The early-morning sun was already hot, brightness shining in the window and C.J., uninhibited, rolled onto her back on the counter next to Savannah. Feeling benevolent, Savannah gave the old girl a good tummy rub.
She couldn’t stop smiling.
Could not stop replaying that kiss in her mind. Her lips still felt his. Her body was still warm as if from his touch.
It was hard actually, not to giggle. Not to wrap her arms around herself and laugh. She had a crush. An honest-to-God, real-life crush, and it was so much fun.
Exhilarating, to be honest, imagining what she would do when she saw him next. What he would say.
When they might kiss again.
Soon, she hoped. Very, very soon.
Good God, that man is something, she thought, scarfing down a big spoonful of pie right from the pan. Strong, generous, funny. Maybe she should give him a raise.
She laughed at the notion. Savannah O’Neill, Sugar Mama.
Tilting her head toward the sun, she hummed her favorite Van Morrison tune and wondered if fate or karma had brought Matt to her.
She was not in love—it took a lot more than music and a kiss to bring down the walls she’d put up—but, with a man like Matt, she knew she could be.
She laughed at the crazy thought, but it was undeniable. He was a good man, a valuable man of worth and honor.
Not at all like Eric.
It had been such a gamble sitting in that room with him last night, and that gamble had paid off in spades.
She felt light this morning. Full of hope.
See? she thought, chasing a rogue raisin around the pie dish. Indulging that O’Neill side of her, those…wilder instincts, didn’t mean the end of the world. It didn’t mean disaster. It could just be fun. She thought of her brother Tyler, who had wholly embraced all things O’Neill.
He had always been fun. The life of the party.
And for too long she’d thought fun was bad, because when it was over—and it was always over—it left her alone. Her brother had left. Eric had left. Though he hadn’t quite left her alone.
Enough, she thought, sick of being her own killjoy.
She’d kissed a man in the moonlight. Nothing bad was going to happen. No sky was going to fall down around her.
Maybe, she thought with a small smile, she could sneak into the sleeping porch and—
Jumping at Juliette’s voice, she whirled, pushing blond hair out of her way to find her best friend standing in the kitchen doorway.
“Tyler gave me a key a million years ago,” she said, striding into the kitchen looking way too police chiefy for such an early-morning visit.
“It’s not even 8:00 a.m.,” Savannah said. “What are you doing here.”
“Trying to prevent you from doing something stupid, but I think I’m too late.”