A long canine bay alerted her she might have unexpected guests. Great. She wasn’t dressed for company. A sudden tug sent her stumbling out into the yard where two men stood beside a luxury sedan. The elderly dog barked so hard that his front legs came off the ground. Melody tightened the lead to prevent Charmer from escaping.
She looked up in time to see Roy’s lawyer approaching her with a wide smile and an outstretched hand. “Afternoon Melody, I probably should have called.”
Mustering up a smile to hide her surprise, she barely noticed the other man say. “It’s her.”
The half-whispered words shifted her attention to the other man still standing by the car. The tall broad shouldered man half leaned against the car as his eyes roamed over her. Levi McDaniel. She bit her bottom lip. No, it couldn’t be. Time is what she needed, to prepare, to know how to act, to devise the right thing to say. Charmer took the opportunity to rest after his unexpected show of energy.
A slight breeze rustled tree leaves while the late afternoon sun warmed her back. Apparently, nature didn’t get the memo to stop everything. Her body did, however, as she struggled to draw a breath, wondering if she’d somehow forgotten how. In and out, that’s it, just breathe. Her mental instructions helped some.
His eyes reached her face. The grey eyes were, unfortunately, still as attractive as she remembered. Reminded her of satin spread she used to wrap around her to stay warm in her modest apartment. Not to be trusted, she told herself, especially when her pulse jumped. Just a man, that’s all he is. She’d almost convinced herself when her bad angel whispered into her ear about his rugged allure.
He was an attractive man and a young one too. When was the last time she had met a man under sixty-five? If she didn’t count her former roommate’s fiancé and jerky friend, it had been months. It could be the reason behind her over reaction to a man who was her nemesis. He’s the enemy. Overlook the nice packaging, the strong jaw, the ripped arms, and the attitude. He’s trouble with a capital T. Don’t even let him get near the front door.
Charmer’s ears went up as if hearing something and dashed in the direction of Levi. The leash slipped out of Melody’s hands as she watched her canine lope across the yard. Would he welcome the man with a lopsided doggy grin or roll over on his back for a belly rub? With her luck, Charmer would deliver the house key. Then again, maybe the lawyer already had.
Her eyes drifted over to the lawyer, hoping that Mr. Douglas would enlightened her about the nature of the visit, although she had her suspicions.
Levi’s voice had her head whipping back to the man. “Hey, what’s that stupid dog doing?”
Her dog balanced on three legs while he hiked the fourth, thoroughly drenching Levi’s leg. Worried, he might hurt her dog, she rushed forward, kneeling beside the dog and wrapping her arms protectively around his body. “Please don’t hurt him. He’s old and already has enough trouble walking with his arthritis.”
Her eyes searched Levi’s face wondering if he might take out his anger on her instead. A rueful look crossed his face. Raising one eyebrow, he asked, “What do you think I am, a monster?”
Don’t answer. She even sucked in her lips to prevent a spontaneous reply.
Levi put both hands against the car and slowly moved to a kneeling position. He placed his hand on Charmer’s head and stroked it. “I know what it’s like old fellow, not being able to move around as well as you’d like.”
Part of her resolve to hate him melted a little when he began to talk to her dog. The lawyer stepped to where the three of them were huddled and squatted. His gaze went to Melody, then to Levi. “Well, now, seeing how well the two of you are getting along. I think it’s time to talk about setting up housekeeping together.”
Levi’s hand that had been stroking Charmer casually brushed hers, causing her to lose her balance and fall on her rear. At least she wasn’t standing, but it didn’t stop her face from coloring. Was it the words or his touch that knocked her off her feet?
The lawyer, Mr. Douglas, held out his hand to help her up. Levi, on the other side of Charmer, didn’t even hide his smile. If he were any type of gentleman, he’d at least offer to help her up. Instead of taking the proffered hand, she scrambled up on her own. She had spent most of her life doing things on her own, it certainly wasn’t the time to start depending on others.
A minivan pulled into the nearby neighbor’s driveway, spilling out what looked like an entire miniature sized soccer team and one tired father. The man held up a hand and Melody waved back. Charmer managed a robust bark, causing the man to stop and turn. “You got a dog? When did that happen?”
Levi snorted, and stared up at her from his crouched position beside the canine in question. The last thing she wanted to confess was she rushed out to get Charmer to solidify her hold on the house. Trying to find an answer that wouldn’t incriminate her too much, her voice cracked on her reply, “Recently.”
Levi snorted again. Amazing, how the man could convey disbelief and maybe even humor at being found out in one sound.
He offered her the end of the leash. “I’m getting up. I thought you might want to hold onto this wild one, especially being so unfamiliar with him and all.”
Her fingers brushed his as she grabbed for the leash. The slight touch sent a tiny jolt of electricity through her fingers and up her arm. It means nothing. It’s more likely his sarcasm slimed me.
Keeping her eyes on Charmer, she waited for the hound to make a sudden move. There had to be a reason his family got rid of him, besides being uncaring jerks. He’d already demonstrated his lack of social graces. What else might he’d do?
Her attention was on her dog, so she missed Levi getting to his feet, but she didn’t miss the cane that suddenly appeared in his hand. Well, that explained a lot, including why he was stateside.