Eyes locked on her, he gave a slow shake of his head.
He wasn’t moving.
He hadn’t shaved that morning, she noticed. Maybe not for a handful of mornings, and the scruff gave his square jaw a toughness that suggested the wild teenager had long ago become a man. She saw now that his T-shirt also had a Colorado Wildland Firefighter patch on the sleeve. The last time she’d seen Aidan, he’d been hoping to get into the fire academy.
Seemed someone had gotten his dream.
“Move or I’ll run over your foot,” she said, and to prove she meant business, she shoved the key in and cranked the engine.
“You’ll run over my foot?” he repeated, eyebrow raised, one side of his mouth quirking in a half grin that was filled with wicked trouble. No wonder half the population of Cedar Ridge had always been in love with him. The other half were either men or dead.
“Grew some claws in San Diego, I see,” he said, voice low and amused.
And that amusement got under her skin in a big way. She told herself she didn’t care what he thought, but that was a big lie. She drew a deep breath and went back to her “fake it ’til you make it” attitude. She would simply fake being unaffected by him. Easy enough, right? She released the emergency brake.
“And still impatient as hell.” Aidan stood up real slow, on his own damn time schedule.
Just as he did everything.
Once upon a time that had hurt her, deeply, and all because of that damn smile that she’d never been able to resist. But she’d grown up. Gotten smart. Surely she could resist him now as easily as she could resist the cookies he’d hand-delivered to her.
Except she wanted those cookies more than she wanted her next breath. And the worst of it? She had absolutely no illusions about her ability to resist him at all.
Which meant she’d have to avoid him like the plague.
Unfortunately that was a feat she’d never managed. Not the time she’d been a freshman and had come across him kissing an older girl in the alley behind the apartment building where they’d both lived—and not the peck sort of kiss either. Nope, they’d been really going at it, the girl moaning like she’d been eating the very best bag of chips she’d ever tasted.
Nor the time a couple of years later when he and his older brother, Gray—both shirtless and in low-slung jeans—had been working on a muscle car in that same alley all summer long, either fighting or drinking pilfered beers and laughing, their lanky bodies hot and sweaty.
And certainly not the summer after she’d graduated, when she’d finagled a dance with him at the annual festival on the lake, a slow dance—and even after the music stopped, they’d swayed to the beat, unable to break eye contact. She’d been shocked at the heat they’d generated and had wondered if he’d felt the same.
And then he’d kissed her, and it sure seemed like he’d felt plenty, because the kiss … Oh, the kiss. Magical, sensual, erotic … She’d pressed into him, willing to take whatever he could give.
But he’d held back, which at the time she had thought was so sweet. She’d thought he hadn’t wanted to pressure her, that they could take things slow.
Until the next day. Lily’s sister, Ashley, had come into Lily’s room all dreamy, confessing that she had the biggest crush on her assistant ski coach.
Who happened to be one sexy Aidan Kincaid.
Ashley had been sure he liked her back.
That had stung, but it was nothing compared to what followed.
I managed to survive it all, she reminded herself now. Staring into Aidan’s melted chocolate eyes, she repeated in her head, The past belongs in the past, the past belongs in the past … Still holding Aidan’s gaze, she revved the engine—her car engine, not her internal engine, because that part of her wasn’t going to rev for him ever again.
Nope, never. She simply couldn’t live with herself if she fell for him again.
With that same small smile still playing on his mouth, Aidan lifted his hands in a stance of mock surrender and took a step back.
Which meant she couldn’t very well run him over now. Instead she let her tires chirp as she accelerated out of the parking lot like the hounds of hell were on her heels.
Because in a way, they were.
Aidan stood watching Lily spin out of the parking lot in a little Honda, as usual leaving chaos in her wake.
And in his gut.
And maybe also in his heart, something he’d admit never. There’d been a time when he would’ve smiled at just the sight of her, and as she was the daughter of the former manager at a neighboring resort, Aidan had seen her a lot.
She’d been quiet but not shy, smart but a lousy student. Her mountain skills rivaled his. She’d earned them working hard for her dad, very hard.
She’d never complained.
He’d loved that about her.
She’d been a bundle of contradictions, and he’d loved that too. He’d also loved how much she’d given to her family, not to mention how tough she was, both mentally and physically.
Her sister, Ashley, had been only a year younger, and they’d pushed each other hard, competing over everything. Ashley had been the outgoing, vocal one, but Lily’s charms had been more internal, an inner warmth behind her adventurous spirit that Aidan had been inexplicably drawn to.
He hadn’t seen a glimpse of that adventurous spirit or warmth just now.
Nope, the only emotion coming from those light green eyes of hers had been temper and lots of it—aimed at him. He had no idea what she had to be so pissy about. Ten years ago he’d been the one she’d left in her dust, his heart ripped to shreds.
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