I know none of you will be surprised by my excitement for this week’s Spotlight book. Winfree secured her place on my auto-buy list ages ago, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am she’s writing again. Two books in one year? ::dies::
Southwest Georgia’s summer heat lingered into late September. Leaves turned straight to brown and dropped to sidewalks that radiated the sun’s warmth even in early evening. Sweat trickled down Savannah’s spine and formed damp pools under each breast in her sports bra. She slanted a wry look at her sister, walking beside her. “Tell me again how this is better than yoga?”
“Maybe not better than yoga.” Amy brushed her damp bangs away from her forehead. Perspiration glistened on her upper lip, and she lifted her water bottle for a long swallow. “But you’re not supposed to talk during yoga. We can have a conversation while we do this.”
“How about next time we wait until the heat index isn’t so high?”
Amy laughed and bumped Savannah’s shoulder with her own. “You know you’ve missed walking with me.”
Savannah admitted no such thing. When they’d both lived in Valdosta, these evening walks had been a sisterly ritual, a time for chatting and laughing, sharing and weeping. She had missed this, but letting Amy know she was right could be a recipe for disaster.
“So, is this transfer as bad as you feared?” Amy glanced both ways at the intersection of Broad and Harney Streets, and they hustled to cross against the light.
Enjoying the momentary cooling shade of a magnolia tree, Savannah pondered the question. When Southwest Georgia Medical had bought out a set of small hospitals in the counties close to Lowndes, she’d dreaded being transferred away from the ER she’d served for three years. She’d thought being closer to her sister would be the only positive, but she had to admit Coney had its own charm.
“Not really, but I don’t want to stay here forever. The staff at the hospital is great, even though they really need to hire on some more nurses. Small towns are not my thing, but at least there’s a coffee shop and a decent grocery store. The parks are pretty.” She let a half-smile, half-smirk curve her mouth. “So’s my neighbor.”
“Really?” Amy’s bright pageant-princess smile lit her entire face. “That’s awesome.”
“I said he was pretty, not welcoming. He’s kind of grouchy, but that may be because he’s recuperating. You could tell he was in pain when I got to introduce myself last night, and he had a cane with him this morning. He has a nice smile, though.”
“Oooh, you could help him recuperate.” The pageant-princess smile took on a decidedly naughty note. “You know, give him the benefit of your vast knowledge of human anatomy.”
Amy’s enthusiasm could only be described as infectious, and Savannah laughed despite herself. She wouldn’t mind exploring Emmett’s anatomy at all. His rugged features—a square jaw, high cheekbones, and thin lips—kept him from being too pretty, and those blue eyes of his were gorgeous, contrasting with thick, tobacco-brown hair. He had lovely hands, too, long-fingered and capable-looking. And nice forearms, leanly muscled and dusted with brown hair. Lord, the possibilities. Plus, he seemed smart. Grad school and involved in reading? She loved nothing more than an intelligent, good-looking man.
He was younger than she was, probably midtwenties to her thirty-four, but what the hell? She wasn’t looking for a lifetime commitment.
Shaking her head, she grimaced. “You’re not helping. I miss sex, and he makes me think of it.”
Amy sketched an airy gesture with her water bottle. “So ask him out.”
“I did, very subtly, and he was not-so-subtly not interested.” Savannah sighed, indulged the disappointment a moment, then shrugged. “It’s okay. I’m sure there are other eligible men in this forsaken place.”
“A coffee shop and a decent grocery store, remember?” Amy’s brown eyes gleamed with a familiar teasing light. “Somewhere here there is one eligible man who’d be thrilled to date an independent professional woman who admits to liking sex.”
Savannah rolled her eyes.
“I could have Rob find you one.” The eagerness of having a new plan to execute suffused Amy’s voice. “There has to be somebody he works with that—”
“Uh, no.” As much as she loved her brother-in-law and actually respected his opinion, he owed her some major payback for the hell she’d given him over a certain ER visit a couple years back. She was not providing him that opportunity. “I’ll just look where most women do. You know, bars, grocery stores, and church.”
Well, maybe not church, since her idea of a relationship no longer involved happily ever after. She didn’t need to get tangled up with a guy who wanted vows and forever-and-always. Friendly companionship and a little hot sex—that was all she needed. Besides, to look for a man at church, one had to actually go to church, which she hadn’t done in well over two years. She didn’t intend to get tangled up with that either.
Their conversation shifted to other topics—work, their parents, Amy and Rob’s nearly yearlong adoption process—as they wrapped up the last block of their walk. Amy wrangled a promise for Savannah to come cook with her one night later in the week, and they parted with a hug despite being sticky and too warm. The Adirondack chair next to Emmett’s door sat empty, his curtains drawn, even though a now-familiar Ford truck sat in the spot assigned to his apartment.
Inside her still-new home, the blessed flow of air conditioning greeted Savannah. She glanced at the kitchen and headed straight for the shower. Cooking was not on her menu tonight. She stripped off her athletic wear while the water warmed. Pondering takeout versus trying a new restaurant, she stepped beneath the spray. The little retro diner a couple of blocks away looked cute and interesting. She’d try that, maybe pick up a movie from the rental kiosk outside the drugstore on her way home. No romantic comedies, no romantic tragedies…nothing romantic, period.
Shower over, she left her face bare except for moisturizer, a smudge of eyeliner, and a quick coat of mascara. She half-dried her hair and pulled it into the messy twist she preferred when in the ER. Dressed in cuffed boyfriend jeans and a black T-shirt, she considered sparkly flat sandals versus the sexy black pumps she’d bought on her last girls’ day with her mom and sister. She reached for the heels because, dammit, she’d been dying to wear them and it wasn’t like they were appropriate footwear for the ER. She snagged her pearl studs from her small jewelry box and let a fingertip trail for only a moment over the sparkling diamond solitaire nestled in the blue velvet. On a deep breath, she closed the lid before she slung her leather bag on her shoulder and headed out.
She swung the front door open to find herself face-to-face with Emmett. Her heart thudded hard with surprise, and her breath whooshed out. His blue eyes widened, and she laughed, a hand to her chest. “Oh, dear God, you startled me.”