Eden LaCroix embodied sin. Wicked, sinful pleasures of the flesh that’d lead a monk straight into temptation.
Billy Buchanan never claimed to be a monk, but how on earth had he ever walked away from her?
Walked? Nice try, man. You ran away from her.
He traced her outline on the glass partition separating them—slumberous hazel eyes, full lips, auburn curls—and was surprised his fingers didn’t come away scorched.
Eden’s spine straightened. Before she turned and caught him gawking, Billy stepped from view.
Way to act like a stalker, Buchanan. Real professional.
Minutes later, her secretary found him calmly leaning against the wall in the reception area. However, calm was the last thing he felt when faced with the pleasures of Eden.
“Ms. LaCroix will see you now.”
Billy’s knees were knocking as loud as his heart when he finally opened her office door.
“Financially unfeasible my ass,” Eden muttered. Not every decision had to be about money.
She didn’t glance up from the spreadsheet when the door clicked open. Dammit. She wasn’t ready to listen to another “expert” regurgitate the same gloomy diagnosis: the building housing the community center couldn’t be salvaged. “Hang on. I’ll be right with you.”
“No hurry. We’ve got all the time in the world.”
A chill skittered up her spine. She’d heard those exact words before. In that low timbre, with that playful tone. Nah. Couldn’t be. Her ears were playing tricks on her.
Curiosity won out. Eden shoved the papers aside and looked across the desk. But the man’s zipper—not his face—was at her eye-level. Before she could discern whether he dressed left or right, her gaze traveled up the charcoal-colored suit pants, past a narrow waist and broad chest covered with a crisp white dress shirt. Wide shoulders. Strong neck. Square jaw. Big grin.
A familiar big grin.
Eden’s stomach knotted. “Say it ain’t so,” she half-whispered. “Billy Buchanan?”
“In the flesh.” Billy spread his arms wide before his killer smile melted away. “Eden? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“A ghost from prom past, minus the baby blue tux.” She shook her head to get the blood flowing, never taking her eyes off him.
“It’s been a few years,” Billy said. “You look amazing. Last time I saw you—”
“—my prom dress was down around my ankles at Motel 6. I’m surprised you remember since the last time I saw you, your scrawny ass was high-tailing it out the door.”
Billy allowed a sheepish shrug, which fell short of the endearing mark Eden suspected he’d been aiming for.
“Although this trip down memory lane is fascinating…” she smiled—all teeth, “…I don’t have time to reminisce. I have an appointment.”
Without waiting for an invitation, Billy plopped into the chair, watching her with an intensity that hadn’t dimmed despite the passing of a decade. “Feather Light Consulting, right?”
That stopped her cold. “How did you know?”
“Because I am your appointment.”
Eden’s pulse spiked, but she managed a droll stare. “Still the consummate bullshit artist, I see.” The wheels on her office chair squeaked as she rocked back. “I’m supposed to believe you work for Feather Light Consulting?”
“Yep. Since yesterday afternoon.” He clicked open a battered black briefcase, propping it on his lap. “Robert Light had a heart attack Saturday night.” When she gasped, he said, “Bob is recovering, but it’ll take time, time Feather Light doesn’t have in order to meet their current client obligations. Jim White Feather brought me here from Illinois.”
Her gaze narrowed. “Why you?”
“Robert gave me a great recommendation with the engineering firm I work for in Chicago. I owe him.” Billy reached into his briefcase, withdrawing a manila envelope. “Luckily I’d just wrapped up a job in Calgary. With freelance status, I’m assisting on this project with Feather Light.”
“Guess it is a lucky thing for Robert.”
“And for you.” Billy smiled, flashing a deep dimple. “Isn’t it great, us working together again? Just like old times?”
“Marvelous.” The last time they’d punched a communal time clock at a local floral shop, any free moment between deliveries and customers her clothing had been askew and Billy’s eager body had plastered hers to the flower cooler as they’d played the FTD version of post office.
Billy merely lifted his brows at her sarcasm.
“Although I’d like to renew specific relationships—” his eyes moved from her eyes to her lips, “—I’m not interested in making friends, Eden. I’m here to do a job.”
Eden chalked up the fluttering in her stomach to acid reflux, not anticipation, and certainly not from his predatory once-over.
While he rummaged in his briefcase, Eden studied the changes ten years brought to Billy Buchanan. He was still undeniably sexy, and boy-next-door handsome. His hair had darkened from blond to tawny gold. His once lanky 6’3” frame filled out impressively. She imagined a toned athlete’s body under his custom tailored clothing. Yet the quick smile with deep-set dimples and his hypnotizing blue eyes remained unchanged. Blue eyes completely focused on her.
“Jesus, Eden. You take my breath away.”
The heat of his gaze evaporated every bit of moisture in her mouth. Not many things threw her, but one compliment from him and she reverted to a seventeen-year-old girl; her heart raced, her face burned, her blood pumped hot.
“Sorry. I know that was out of line. Not a good way to start this.”
“So how do we start this, Billy? Do I ask you how you’ve been? Do I ask to see your credentials?” Or do I ask why you ran out on me?
Billy’s eyes didn’t waver as the locks on the briefcase clicked. “Sure. We could also discuss the weather, or whether my old boss Nathan and his wife Tate, have contributed to the population explosion in Spearfish.” He angled forward, settling his elbows on the briefcase, studying her carefully. “Or, we could skip all that crap and I could tell you why I left you and your virginity intact ten years ago.”