Remi Calder saw Eadan Fleming for the first time on the day he moved into her apartment building.
While he helped the movers carry in some of his boxes, she hid behind the foyer’s largest plant, completely in awe. The muscles stored in that man’s six-foot frame were purely mouth-watering, a vision not soon forgotten. In fact, she was in such a state that had she been wearing a pacemaker it would have seized up.
Though she’d just passed her twenty-eighth birthday, the gratifying sight left her gaping like a love-starved groupie.
The fellow wore his well-washed jeans and plaid shirt as if it were a posh outfit from the elite tailors down the street. Yummy! His hair was fashioned in that short style that many business men wore today, a thick auburn mass curling in the heat.
Just then, he bent over to pick up a crate and her mouth dried up, her heart beat in triple time and the black turtleneck sweater which she thought slimmed her down suddenly choked her. With her tongue glued to the top of her mouth, she didn’t see the other fellow who was approaching from behind.
“He’s something else, eh, lass?”
First she jumped. Then she yelped. And just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, her camouflaging foliage tipped over and flopped on the floor with a loud thud, leaving her totally exposed. Oh, lawdie!
The noise alerted the man she’d been spying on and he turned her way to see what had caused the commotion. Embarrassed beyond words, Remi knew he was still watching as she tried to upright the damn tree. Not once, oh no; it took her three tries as the blasted bush seemed to have a mind of its own. Finally the man who’d caused the uproar came to her rescue and put it back in place.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” The knowing gleam in his eyes made her blush. This bloke reminded her of her brother, a down-to-earth tease who loved to catch her in uncomfortable situations. Since she seemed to be cursed with clumsiness, he ragged on her a lot.
“Oh, don’t apologise. I was just, ah…checking if the umm…soil was dry. You know, if the plant needed water. I do that from time to time. Otherwise they die.” Running out of inane blather, Remi shrugged, reddened and hunched her shoulders.
By this time, the hunky eyeful had finished loading the elevator and turned politely. “Were you wanting to use this lift?”
Remi glanced at her annoying friend and raised her chin. Then she stepped out from behind the plant, knocking against it once again. Turning in time, she saw it being caught and pretended it had nothing to do with her.
Sauntering toward the elevator, Remi hoped like hell that the run in her left legging hadn’t travelled around to the front of her leg. She approached and saw him waiting for her from inside the open doors.
“Hi,” she stuttered slightly. “Are –are you moving in today?” The first two fingers of the hand behind her back slowly crossed over each other.
“Yes, I bought a flat on the ninth floor – 906. It’s a great building and close to the city center. I was lucky it came up for sale. What floor did you want?” His finger still hovered over the panel of numbers.
Remi’s eyes were glued to his muscled chest, imagination going wild. “Sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m on the eight – eighth. Thank you.”
He grinned at her bumbling and then looked into her eyes, and she saw a sincere, friendly smile. One that had her instinctively smiling back. She watched his eyes widen and his glance sharpen. Lowering her lashes, she hid her shyness.
To break the tension, she said, “It’s a good place to live. I’ve been here for four years. In fact, I’m right underneath you.” She glanced up at him and saw his right eyebrow arch and his head cock to the side. The chuckle snorted from behind reminded her that the tease still lurked.
Darn—her mouth was getting in the way of her brain again. Would she never learn? “I mean that I’m in 806, directly beneath 906, one floor down.” To cover up the fact that she’d been staring at him like an eager, tail-wagging puppy, she fixed her purse strap and moved forward.
“That’s nice.” He had a distinctive half-grin hovering over his mouth that reminded her instantly of the famous, cocky Elvis smile that had fascinated female hearts all over the world.
“Graeme, are you coming with this load?”
Her antagonist ambled toward the lift and shook his head. “I think it’s a bit over-crowded already, bro. Best you just send it back down for me.” He winked at Remi, and her heart sank to the floor. The beast knew she’d been spying and thought it gave him some power over her. Well, she’d let him know she wasn’t someone to trifle with. Pushing her heavy curls back over her shoulder, she sent him a haughty grimace. Sure enough, just when she wanted to create an uncaring attitude, her watch caught in the strands of her hair. The last thing she saw as the elevator doors closed was the silly fool’s grin.
Because of all the cartons and boxes jammed in, she’d had to squeeze into the idol’s personal space. Now, she had her arm trapped, snared by her hair. Even though Mr. Handsome had moved aside to let her proceed into the corner, she hadn’t gotten that far. Brushing against him was unavoidable. But stumbling? The man wouldn’t know that being in close proximity with any male could cause her feet to forget how to walk, or her mind to become too befuddled to remember.
“So you like this building?” he asked, making polite conversation.
“Yes. Very much.” She pretended to be smoothing her hair, rather than yanking away at it.
His gaze followed her hand and his grin widened. “Then I’ve made a good choice.”
Nodding, she answered. “Most of the people here are very nice.” She stared up at the flashing numbers on the control panel, praying they would pass by quickly. She’d never felt so uncomfortable in all her life. From the first day she’d moved into the building, this elevator had been the bane of her existence. Who would be so foolish as to install a lift with mirrored walls? Maybe a masochist! Every time she rode in the silly thing, she was forced to see her overlarge self—the one she disliked to such an extent that she’d habitually close her eyes—and cuss the building’s designer.
“Here, would you like me to help you get free?” He pointed at her problem and lifted his hands in a gesture of waiting.
Forcing her stare away from the ceiling, she sighed and gave up the attempt at pretending. “Would you mind? I seem to have hooked my hair on my watch.”
“Not at all.” Since they were in close proximity, he didn’t have to move, just lift his hands and untwist the curl from around the watch’s fancy silver bracelet.
Remi did everything she could not to faint. First she bit her lip, then clenched her free hand to stop it from reaching. Trying not to stare at his muscular throat and the coating of sweat that glistened, she closed her eyes. But his warm breath, enhanced by the hint of coffee, bewitched her senses. Everything stopped—the elevator, his hands and then her heartbeat.
“There. You’re loose.” He stepped back and grabbed a small suitcase just in time to jam it into the door to keep it open. “By the way, my name is Eadan Fleming. I’ve just moved to London from Edinburgh.” With his head angled to the side, he waited while she desperately tried to overcome her muddled senses.
“Welcome. I’m Remi Calder. I hope you’re happy here.”
“I’m sure I will be.” He stepped aside to give her room to exit and then waited.
Would she look very foolish backing out? Stupid, silly tights. She did so anyway, wanting to escape the awkwardness as quickly as she could. Besides, using this method of fleeing, her backside, being overly large and not her best feature, wouldn’t be something he’d have to witness waddling away from him.
At the exact moment she decided to bolt, the golf clubs leaning against the elevator wall decided to fall over. Without his quickness in reaching for her, she would have fallen too. As his arms encircled her full figure, she couldn’t help but breathe in his cologne. It smelled of the wind on top of a snowy mountain peak, fresh and clean. The scent shot straight to her already heightened senses and left her reeling.
“Are you alright?” He sounded as if he really cared.
No! I want to disappear – now. “I’m so clumsy, I’m sorry. I hope your clubs are okay, and that I didn’t break them.”
Now why would she say something so silly? Why in the world did her brain always go on a retreat at the moment when she needed it most?
“Can I help you to your place? You’re shaking.”
“I’m fine. Really. Welcome to the building. And if you need any sugar, you know where to find me.” Oh, no! Remi groaned her dismay. By now she didn’t care what part of her anatomy he saw; she just had to make good her escape.
She bolted for her place, and while searching for her keys, she dropped her handbag. Finally she had the door opened and turned to wave him on his way. Off-balance and in too much if a hurry, she accidently stumbled over the purse. He watched her until she was on her knees inside her entrance and she knew that all he saw were her arms reaching into the hallway to snatch her fallen articles.
Remi, you fool. If you need any sugar? For heaven’s sake, what were you thinking? No wonder the daft man was grinning like a teenager after his first beer.