Setting Off SparksA Jupiter Point Novel by Jennifer Bernard Publication Date: June 13, 2017 Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
“So, do you come here often?” He winced as soon as he asked the clichéd question. “Don’t answer that. What I mean is, I think I saw a picture of you on that corkboard.”
He waved in the direction of the lookout tower kitchenette where she’d cooked her meals last summer.
She nodded, making a mental note to confiscate that photo as soon as possible. She hadn’t known it was there.
“So, I figure you’ve been here before. Not that I’m stalking you or anything. I didn’t know you’d be here. I mean, I kind of hoped you would be.” He clawed one hand through his dark hair, leaving it romantically tousled. With a pained—but charming—smile, he finished with, “I’m making a mess out of this, aren’t I?”
She wrinkled her forehead, still not really getting it. “A mess of what, exactly?”
“Let me try again. I hiked out here a couple months ago with some friends. I saw that photo, which I now know is you, and I thought, ‘I hope I meet that woman someday.’ And here you are. Sounds like destiny to me.”
“Destiny?” She finished her cheese and wiped her fingers on a napkin. “Sorry, I’m not much of a believer. I put destiny in the same category as cheesy pick-up lines.”
“Are you a magician?”
“Every time I look at you, everyone else disappears.” He looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to smile.
She narrowed her eyes at him instead. “That’s the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard. It’s actually an insult to cheese.”
He laughed. “Did you read Dr. Seuss as a kid?”
“Because green eggs and damn.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, raking her with an exaggerated, appreciative survey.
Finally, she laughed. It was an involuntary, incredulous laugh, but still. “Okay, you got me. That is the worst pick-up line I’ve ever heard.”
“Oh, I’ve got more. I have an extensive collection.”
Honestly, she was surprised he needed pick-up lines. A guy like him, with his looks and charm, could probably pick up a woman with half a wink of one eye. “Strange thing to collect.”
“Yes, well, I grew up in LA.” He gave her that flashing, groove-in-the-cheek smile again. “Misspent youth on Sunset Boulevard. How about you? Where are you from? I’m Finn Abrams, by the way.”
“Well, Finn, I don’t think we’ve reached the sharing-life-stories phase, sorry.”
“I think I heard a ‘yet’ in there. We’re not at that phase yet. But I know a good way to get there. So how about we back up and start again. Will you have dinner with me, mystery tower woman?”
She shook her head, bewildered by how quickly the conversation had morphed so it felt like she actually knew this stranger. Like she wanted to know him. Wanted to know how he’d gotten the scars, why pain still lurked behind his eyes. How he could still be so charming, despite such a recent—to her expert eye—trauma.
But she had to stay cautious. And she didn’t go for the charming type anyway.
“We’re in a tower in the middle of the wilderness. What exactly did you have in mind?”
“Leave it to me. We’ll gorge on cheese and crackers and drink champagne under the stars.”
Everything about him was so warm, so inviting, so enticing.
So not happening. “It’s January.”
He cocked his head at her. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
She gaped at him.
“Because I can walk by again.” Mischief glittered in his dark eyes.