Home > Heart Strings(9)

Heart Strings(9)
Author: Melanie Moreland

I pushed off the door and called the office. Audrey, the HR woman, sounded shocked when I explained I wouldn’t be in, and she put me on hold for a moment. I wasn’t surprised when my father came on the line.

“Charlotte? What’s going on?”

“I’m not well, so I’m not coming in today. As I told Audrey, I left all the files needed for the meeting this afternoon on my desk.”

“What do you mean not well?”

I had no idea what to say. I hadn’t planned on having to defend myself to my father.

“I, ah…” I dropped my voice. “It’s a woman’s issue, Dad. I have cramps and—”

“I get the picture,” he interrupted, as I knew he would. “Not great timing, Charlotte.”

I rolled my eyes. “A little out of my control,” I pointed out, feeling the guilt of fibbing to him.

“Do what you have to and try to make it in this afternoon.”

I made a noncommittal response and hung up. I threw off my business suit and dressed in jeans and a warm cherry-red sweater. I rushed back down the hall. Logan was sitting on the sofa, thumbing through one of my dog-eared books. He glanced up and grinned. “You look beautiful.”

He stood and came close. “You need one more thing, though.”

“Oh?”

Reaching up, he delved his hands into my hair and pulled away the clips, letting it fall down my back in long waves. He ran his fingers through the thick locks. “Now, you’re perfect.”

Once again, the air began to thicken around us. His fingers tightened in my hair, curling into fists. Slowly, giving me a chance to refuse, he lowered his head. I slid my hands around his shoulders, and with a groan, he crashed his lips to mine. His grip was firm but gentle as he held me close. His mouth moved, his tongue sliding sensuously along with mine. I whimpered as he deepened the kiss, warmth spreading through my body, running down my spine. I curled my toes as he dropped one hand to my hip, pulling me tight to his chest as he kissed me, my senses reeling from his passion.

He broke away, leaning his forehead to mine. Our chests pressed together, his hard, toned body fitting to my softer curves so well.

“God, I’ve wanted to do that for so long,” he murmured. “I want to do it again. And then again.”

I shivered at his low tone. The underlying promise it held. I bent back, meeting his gaze. It was dark and hooded, filled with desire.

“Anytime,” I breathed out.

I was rewarded with another hard, fast kiss. “God, you are amazing.”

He stepped back, leaving me feeling cold without his warmth. “If I do, we won’t be leaving this condo, and I have the day planned.” He grabbed his coat. “Are you ready?”

I took my parka from the coat hook and tucked my wallet and phone into the large pocket. I grabbed my favorite mittens and paused.

“Wait.”

I turned to the closet and pulled down a basket, digging through it. I found what I was looking for and held out a pair of large gray mittens.

“For you.”

Logan took them, frowning.

“I made them,” I explained. “Look, they can be worn like mittens, or fingerless.” I demonstrated how the small flap opened and they became fingerless gloves. “They were my first attempt, so they aren’t perfect, but they’ll keep your hands warm.”

He eyed the basket. “Should I ask about your mitten fetish?”

I giggled. “I like to knit. I make them and drop them off at homeless shelters. I also knit baby booties and blankets for the hospital.” I waggled my fingers. “And I love mittens, but I lose them frequently, so I make them for me too.”

He slid them on, pulling back the flap so his fingers were exposed and bending his knuckles. “I like them.” He met my eyes, his gaze warm. “Thank you.”

I was thrilled he accepted them in the spirit they were given. No hidden agenda, no worry about his financial capability of affording some mittens, just me giving them to him since I noticed his hands were bare and we were going to be outside.

“You’re welcome.”

He held out his hand again. “Shall we?”

I tucked mine into his, grinning. They matched. I saw he noticed too, and his eyes crinkled with amusement.

“Yes.”

 

 

We walked a short distance, neither of us talking at first, but enjoying the quiet. It felt strangely right to be walking beside him, holding his hand. Logan steered us in the opposite direction of the main road and into a neighborhood I wasn’t familiar with. The streets were a little wider and quiet. Tall trees lined the road, and I gazed up in wonder at the snow-covered branches and how pretty they looked glistening in the sun.

“Is winter your favorite season?” he asked.

“Yes. It always has been. Josh and I…” I trailed off and swallowed. “Josh and I loved to play in the snow. He always helped me make the best snowmen.”

“Josh?”

I had to blink at the sudden moisture in my eyes. “My brother.”

“Do you still make snowmen together?”

“No,” I said through tight lips.

“Does he work with you at your father’s company?”

I swallowed. “He’s dead.”

Logan stopped walking, pivoted, and stared down at me. “Lottie, I’m sorry.”

“He died when I was much younger.”

“And you still miss him.” It wasn’t a question, simply a statement as if he understood.

“Every day.”

Suddenly, his arms enveloped me, pulling me close. Despite my parka and his jacket, I felt his heat, the warmth of his embrace seeping into me, relaxing me. I accepted his comfort, clinging to his waist, holding him close.

“I’m sure he misses you too, baby,” he mumbled into my hair.

His words unlocked something inside me. I was never allowed to talk about Josh. Every time I tried, my parents shut down. Right after his death, that was all I wanted to talk about, to share with someone how much I missed him. How badly I felt I failed him. But I couldn’t. It was forbidden.

“He was a great big brother,” I whispered.

He held me harder, then eased back. “You’ll have to tell me all about him.”

“Really?”

“You can talk to me about anything, Lottie. Obviously, you loved him—you still do—so of course I want to know about him.”

“I’d like that. But not today. I want today to be about us.”

He traced a finger down my cheek. “Okay. Whenever you want.”

He clasped my hand in his. “Now, I’m ready for breakfast.”

“Sounds good.”

Logan led me to another small restaurant, where he was obviously well-known. He was greeted warmly, and he led me to a booth in the corner. I sat down, unzipping my coat and inhaling the scent of coffee and sugar hanging in the air.

“Do they know you in every diner in the city?” I teased.

He chuckled. “Only about four. I sub at the school a few blocks over. I usually stop for breakfast on the days I work there. I love their waffles. Great coffee too.”

My mouth began to water. Waffles. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had waffles. My mom used to make them when we were kids—they were Josh’s favorite. After he died, she never made them again.

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