Home > Come Away with Me (With Me in Seattle #1)(4)

Come Away with Me (With Me in Seattle #1)(4)
Author: Kristen Proby

“Hello, Natalie! I see you have a delivery for me!” She smiles and comes around the counter, pulling me into a big hug.

“I do. I hope you can use them.”

“Oh yes, I’m just about out of the others you brought in last week. You’ve become quite the popular young artist.”

Mrs. Henderson starts looking through my work, oohing and aahing and I feel the pride in my chest as she tells me that she’ll take all I’ve brought her today.

We chat at the counter while she writes me a check for last week’s sales and I turn to leave, but stumble into a very firm chest.

“Oh, excuse me…” I take a step back and look up. Oh shit.

“Hello, Natalie.” Luke’s staring down at me, a smile tickling his lips. He looks a bit surprised, happy, and just…

Oh my.

“Hello, Luke.” My voice sounds breathy again and I mentally wince.

Mrs. Henderson heads to the back of her store to check on a customer, leaving Luke and I alone. I stare down at my sandals, reminding myself I need a pedicure.

What am I supposed to say?

“So, you’re an artist.” Luke glances over at my framed photos still stacked on the counter.

“Yes,” I follow his gaze. “I sell my work in the local shops.”

He grins and I feel that pull again in my gut.

“What are you doing in here? This doesn’t seem like your kind of store.”

“I’m looking for a gift for my sister for her birthday.” He starts shuffling through my frames. “These would be perfect. She just bought a new condo.

Which ones would you suggest?” He glances back at me and I have no choice but to join him at the counter and lean close to him as we look through the twenty plus photos together.

“Does

she

prefer

flowers

or

scenery?” I ask.

“Er,” he swallows. Am I having some kind of effect on him? I lean a little closer to him, pretending to inspect the photos on the counter and hear him catch his breath. “Probably flowers.”

“I’d go with these.” I smile to myself, enjoying his nearness now that I don’t feel threatened by him, and select four photos of flowers, all different kinds and colors, and arrange them in a square for him to see.

“Perfect.” His smile lights up his face and I can’t help but smile back. “You’re very talented.”

His compliment takes me back for a second and I feel my cheeks flush.

“Thank you.”

Luke pays Mrs. Henderson, and then follows me as I start to head out of the store and to my car.

“Where are you headed?” he asks as he catches up to me.

“Well, that was my last delivery, so I’ll be heading home.”

“Or,” he says nonchalantly, “I could take you out for coffee.”

My stomach tightens excitedly. He’s still interested! Am I? He could be an ax murderer. Or worse.

“Happy hour?” he continues.

I smile and look away from him, still striding toward my car.

“Dinner? Can I buy you an ice cream cone?” He runs his free hand through his messy hair and I mentally hug myself.

Somewhere public should be safe, so before I can put too much more thought into it, I hear myself saying, “Let’s go get a drink. There’s a bar one block over that has a good happy hour.”

“Lead the way!” Damn, I would do just about anything for that grin.

“Don’t you want to take your sister’s photos to your car?”

“I walked.” He shrugs.

“Here, stow them in my car.” I open the trunk of my Lexus SUV and pull the door up for him.

“Nice car.” He says, surprised. His eyebrows are raised as he gazes at me.

“Thanks,” I flip the lever for the door to close and lock the car again as we continue down the sidewalk.

Luke pulls his aviator sunglasses from the neck of his soft white t-shirt and puts them on, looking around him as though he’s making sure no one is watching him and I frown. Is he embarrassed to be seen with me? If so, why did he ask me out?

I’m still puzzling over this as he holds the door to my favorite Irish Pub open for me and we walk into the cool bar.

“Hi! Welcome to the Celtic Swell.”

A young server smiles at both of us, paying special attention to Luke, and I mentally roll my eyes. “It’s a beautiful day out there,” she continues, “Would y’all like to sit inside or outside?”

I glance up at Luke and without pausing or asking me what I’d prefer he says “Inside.”

“Sure thing, follow me, handsome.”

She winks at Luke, ignoring me completely, and leads us to a booth near the back of the bar.

We are seated, and Miss Flirty points out the happy hour menu displayed proudly on the table, smiles broadly at Luke again, and then leaves us alone.

“Are you embarrassed to be out with me?” I am determined to get to the bottom of this.

Luke gasps, takes off his sunglasses revealing his wide blue eyes, and looks horrified. The knots in my stomach slowly release.

“No! No, Natalie, not at all. In fact, I’m thrilled to spend time with you.” He looks so sincere. “Why do you ask?”

“Well…” I gratefully sip the water the waitress has set down before me. “You just seem…”

“What?”

“Quiet all of a sudden.” It’s the best I can come up with. Damn, why does he make me so nervous?

   
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