The Sweetest Thing Read online

Page 26

  Author: Jill Shalvis

  “What is it with you and the caveman thing?” she asked. And why, oh why, do I like it so much?

  “So did Logan’s kiss get to you, Tara?” He took her bottom lip between his teeth and tugged before freeing her. “Did it make your knees weak?”

  No, but they were weak now.

  Ford turned his attention to her upper lip, nipping that too. “Did his kiss make you tremble?” He kissed her full on then, a slow, hot kiss that branded her as his before finally pulling back only enough to let her breathe. “Did it, Tara? Did he get to you?”

  By this time, she was so hot that she figured she was lucky she hadn’t spontaneously combusted. Against her, Ford was humming with the same tension as she. His eyes raked down her body, sending sparks racing along every nerve ending she possessed. Then he leaned in, his mouth once again hovering over hers.

  Her lips fell open as she waited breathlessly for the kiss, but instead he stepped back, and she nearly slid to the floor.

  With a knowing look, he lifted her up and supported her weight with no effort at all. “Tara. ”

  She closed her eyes, then opened them again. “No. Logan didn’t get to me. You do. You always did. ”

  His smile came slow and sinfully lethal, and she pushed at him, thinking it should be illegal to have a smile like that. “Which you already knew, damn you. It doesn’t mean anything, Ford. Not without intent. ”

  “I have plenty of intent. ”

  No kidding. “Intent from me,” she said. “And the only intent I have is to get to know Mia and make a wild success out of the inn this weekend. And then the next and so on, until we’re making enough money that Maddie is stable here on her own. ”

  Something came into his eyes at that. She wasn’t sure what. “And then?” he said.

  “And then I’ll go. ”

  Temper, she decided. That’s what was in his eyes. A good amount of it, and frustration, too.

  “You’ll go where, back to Texas?” he asked. “Far away from all the strings on your heart because that’s the easiest way?”


  And true.

  “Maybe,” she admitted, and damn him for putting it so succinctly into words. “Which makes us one hell of a pair, doesn’t it? The runner—that would be me—and the guy who…”

  “Who what?” he asked, eyes narrowed.

  “It’s easy come, easy go for you, isn’t it? Things either fall into your lap and work out, or they don’t. And if they don’t, you’re never overly bothered much. ” Again she shoved clear of him.

  And this time he let her go.

  The next morning, Ford woke up in a rare, foul mood. Tara was right about him. He was easy come, easy go, and he didn’t like what that said about him.

  And then there was Tara. She was difficult and a pain in his ass, and he had no idea why he wanted her.

  Except he did.

  He wanted her because she saw the real him. She didn’t take his shit. And she made him feel. Christ, did she make him feel. And what he felt at the moment was impatient and frustrated as hell.

  Usually a sign for him to move on.

  Hell if that urge didn’t piss him off too, because it proved her point. Christ, he really hated that.

  He didn’t want to move on.

  Another shock. He thought maybe he was falling for her all over again, maybe even harder than the first time. As for her, he had no idea what she was feeling. For all he knew, she was feeling everything he was—but for Logan. He hated that, too. Frustrated with her, with himself, with every fucking thing, he did his usual morning run and then walked to the post office to collect his mail. Logan happened to be at the counter and Ford shook his head. Fan-fucking-tastic, because they hadn’t seen nearly enough of each other lately.

  By the looks of things, the race car driver was attempting to reserve a mailbox for the summer and getting nowhere. “I was told it would be no problem,” Logan was saying.

  This was no mystery once Ford caught sight of the clerk. Paige Robinson had crushed on Ford all through middle school. And again in tenth grade. They’d gone to Homecoming together, after which Paige had pulled her father’s pilfered vodka from her purse to share. Ford had hoped to get lucky that night, but unfortunately, Paige had tossed back too much and thrown up on his shoes instead.

  Maybe she felt she owed him now, or maybe she was still harboring a secret crush, Ford didn’t know; but for whatever reason, she was shaking her head at Logan, saying she was very sorry but there simply wasn’t an empty post office box to be rented in Lucky Harbor.

  Logan walked out of the post office looking annoyed but resigned, and Ford watched him go, torn. Don’t do it, man.

  Don’t. Fuck. He gathered his mail and followed Logan outside. “There’s a Mailboxes-R-Us on Fourth Street,” Ford said. “You can probably get a box there. ”

  Instead of thanking him, Logan gave him a suspicious look. “I don’t suppose you know anything about why Jan at the diner told me they’d run out of coffee when I tried to get caffeine this morning. Or how it is that I was woken up at five, six, seven, and eight o’clock by someone playing doorbell ditch at the cottage? Or better yet, where my rental car went?”

  “Why would I know anything about any of that?”

  Logan laughed low in his throat. “Maybe because while the locals are impressed with my NASCAR status, they’d do just about anything for you. Hell, Facebook is proving that. ”

  “Facebook? Is the poll still up then?”

  Logan pulled out his Blackberry and brought up the page. People’s tweets were posted, and on top of that was the latest blog entry:

  There’s romance in the wind! Or at least on the docks, where Tara Daniels was seen kissing a certain sexy hometown sailor. Voting is still open but it appears Tara’s running a poll of her own. And don’t forget to weigh in on a side poll—should Ford ask Tara to marry him? Also, see tweets on how he should pop the question…

  Ford stared at the screen. “What the fuck?”

  Logan blew out a breath. “All I know is that she’s not kissing me on the docks. ” He punched 9-1-1 on his cell. “Yes, dispatch? I need to report my rental car as stolen. ”

  Ford waited with him, somehow feeling responsible. Plus, he had a feeling Sawyer would show up.

  And sure enough, his best friend arrived in less than five minutes.

  Sawyer got out of his squad car in his uniform and dark mirrored sunglasses, looking his usual badass self. At the sight of Logan and Ford standing together, he arched a brow. He was far too good to show much, but a slow smile crossed his face. “Either of you see Facebook today?”

  “Yeah, yeah,” Ford muttered. “Have a good laugh. ”

  “Already did. I haven’t voted on the new poll yet. I’m weighing some heavy questions. Like do guys still get down on one knee? And how much should the ring cost?”

  Ford flipped him the bird.

  “Verbal assault of an officer,” Sawyer said. “I’d arrest you but I don’t feel like doing the paperwork. ”

  “There’s a stolen rental car,” Ford said. “How about you be a cop and get to that?”

  “It’s not stolen. It just showed up. ” Sawyer turned to Logan. “You parked in a no-parking zone and it got towed. ” He eyed Logan over the tops of his dark lenses. “The law applies even to celebrities here. ”

  Logan sighed. “I’m going to need a ride. ”

  Sawyer looked at Ford.

  Oh, Christ. “No. ”

  “I have to get back to work,” Sawyer said.

  “It’s your job to take care of citizens in need,” Ford pointed out.

  “Unless I have a call. And I have a call. ”

  “What, to get donuts?”

  Sawyer pointed at him, miming shooting his gun. Then he got back into his squad car and drove off.

  Logan looked at Ford.