Excerpt from ROMANCING THE NANNY

Chapter One

It was lust, Amy Logan decided pressing the dough into the pie crust with extra fervor, pure and simple lust.

After all, it would be unnatural to live with such a handsome man for three years and not have the occasional urge to see him naked.

Having no sex in years probably didn’t help either, Amy thought, her lips twisting upward in a wry smile.  Or the fact that this morning she’d slipped upstairs to get Emma her backpack and caught him just out of the shower.

Oh, he’d been perfectly presentable with a Turkish towel wrapped firmly around his waist.  And she’d certainly seen him with his shirt off before.  Every summer he went to the pool at the Country Club with her and Emma at least a couple of times. But there was something different about knowing that he’d been naked only moments before.

Something about seeing the droplets of water clinging to his broad chest.

Something about smelling that delicious mixture of soap, shampoo and clean masculine flesh.

Amy inhaled deeply.  Even now if she closed her eyes, she could still—

“Got any coffee left?”

Amy’s eyes popped open and she stilled, grateful she faced the wall.  Otherwise the object of her desires might think she was having a sensual experience with a pie crust.

Schooling her features into what she hoped was a nonchalant expression, Amy turned.

Dan Major stood in the center of the large modern kitchen wearing her favorite suit.  The cut emphasized his broad shoulders and lean hips and the navy color brought out the brilliant blue of his eyes.  Still damp from the shower, his short dark hair fell into a careless wave on his forehead.

He was an inch or two over six feet and easily the most handsome man she’d ever known.  It only made sense that she’d want to see him naked.  What didn’t make sense was why that desire had taken so long to surface.

She and the hunky widower had lived side by side for almost three years.  Amy had always considered Dan a good friend.  But over the past six months she’d found herself thinking of him in a different way, seeing him not just as her employer and friend but as a desirable man.

“Amy?”

His lips curved upward and she realized with a start that she’d been staring. Without a word, she reached over and lifted the pot from the warmer.  “Can I pour you a cup?”

“I can get my own,” he protested even as he pulled out a chair and took a seat at the table.

Amy smiled.  Dan was the quintessential modern man with one major exception.  Despite being only thirty-four and having been raised in a progressive two-income family, Dan rarely helped out around the house.

Unfortunately she had only herself to blame.  She’d refused his offers of help so many times, he’d quit asking.  The truth was she loved to pamper him and Emma.  Keeping his house spotless and clothes laundered filled her with immense satisfaction.  She prided herself on the fact that he could always count on a well balanced, home cooked meal at the end of the day.

A successful architect at one of Chicago’s largest and most prestigious firms, Dan alternated between working in the office or from home.

His schedule was so varied Amy never knew if he’d be home, at the office, or out meeting with clients.  It didn’t really affect her.  Emma was in first grade this year and gone all day.  The only difference was if Dan was home she’d make his lunch and maybe offer a snack in the afternoon.

After all, that’s what he was paying her for; that and taking care of his young daughter, Emma.  And not only did he pay her, he paid her very well.  With the extra money she saved by living-in, she’d been able to get enough cash together to start a small catering business.

Last year when she’d shown Dan her business plan, he’d been surprised, then concerned.  He’d asked her point blank if she was planning to leave.

But when she’d reassured him that this was just something extra she wanted to do for herself, he’d been supportive. 

Shortly after that, he’d had the antiquated kitchen in the large older home remodeled.  And best of all, he’d solicited her input and hadn’t batted an eye at her request for commercial-grade appliances.

For now she limited her efforts to catering small parties on the weekends and providing specialty desserts to a couple of restaurants.  But she held high hopes of the future.  One day she’d make enough so she could have her own home—

“I’d be happy to get my own coffee?”

Dan’s bemused voice broke through her reverie pulling Amy back to the present.  She glanced down at the coffee pot she still held loosely in her hand. Ignoring Dan’s teasing comment Amy quickly poured him a cup and set the steaming brew in front of him.  No need to ask if he wanted cream or sugar.  She had his likes and dislikes memorized.

“Cinnamon roll?” she asked, appealing to his sweet tooth.  “I made them this morning.  Or I could whip up some bacon and eggs?  It would only take a second—“
“I’m afraid this will have to do.”  Dan glanced at the clock on the wall, took a hasty sip of coffee and pushed back his chair.  “I have a meeting at the office at nine and I should’ve been gone by now.”

At the first scrape of the chair legs against the hardwood floor, Amy sprang into action.  Grabbing the travel mug from the cupboard, she filled it with the rich Columbian blend that was his favorite.

By the time she was done he was already in the doorway.  He turned.  “I should be home early, around five-thirty.”

Amy let her gaze sweep over him, like it did over Emma every morning, making sure everything was in place.  She frowned.  

“Wait.”  She popped the lid on the travel mug and quickly crossed the room.  But instead of handing him the coffee, she placed it on the counter and stepped close. 

“Your tie needs some help.”

Grabbing the silk fabric, she loosened the off-center knot and with well-practiced ease quickly retied it.  But instead of taking a step back, she let her fingers linger. 
Dan was in a hurry.  He’d made that perfectly clear.  Her head told her to step back, hand him the travel mug and send him on his way.  Her feet wouldn’t move.
The air surrounding them grew thick.  It was as if an invisible web encased them.  Time, which had been ticking onward with rhythmic precision, came to an abrupt halt.

The subtle scent of his cologne teased her nostrils.  Heat emanating from his body washed over her.

She wanted to pull him close and press her lips to his, relieve this tension that had built up inside her.  Instead she dropped her hands, placed them on her rounded hips and gave him a once over.  “Now you look presentable.”

Amy had learned long ago the perils of being foolish.  And thinking that Dan—handsome, successful Dan who could have any woman he wanted in the entire city of Chicago—was attracted to her would be the height of folly.  He liked her, admired her, appreciated her.  But any electricity she felt was definitely onesided.

“Thanks.”  The dimple in his left cheek flashed.  He reached down and picked up the mug she’d placed on the counter.  “And I appreciate the coffee.”

Somehow Amy managed an easy smile.  “Any time.”

She stood at the door and watched him get in the car.  As he drove off, she lifted her hand and waved good-bye, then took a few steps and collapsed in a nearby chair.  What in the world had she been thinking?

Dan wasn’t interested in her.  And even if there was a tiny spark of something between them, there was no way she could compete with Tess Major’s memory and come out ahead.

Other women had tried and they’d all failed.  And that’s what Amy needed to remember before she did something she’d live to regret.

***

The smell of warm peach pie filled the large kitchen and Amy smiled as she wiped down the counters.  Some women needed fancy clothes or trips to exotic ports, but all it took for her to be happy was a neat, orderly kitchen…

“Something smells good in here.”

Amy whirled. Dan stood in the doorway to the dining room, a lazy smile on his lips.

“You’re home early.”  The minute the words left her mouth Amy wished she could pull them back.  She’d made it sound as if he was unwelcome when nothing could be further from the truth.

It was just that she always liked to have everything ready and in its place when he came home.  But it was only four thirty and she hadn’t expected him for at least an hour.  The table wasn’t set and Emma was still down the block playing at a friend’s house.

“Now that’s a warm welcome.” Dan smiled and that familiar dimple in his left cheek flashed.  “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you didn’t want me.”

His gaze settled on her and she forced herself not to look away.  But it was hard.  The intense look in his blue eyes sent a shiver up her spine.  “Tell me something, Amy.  Do you ever think of me when I’m not here?” 

That same electricity charged the air and Amy moistened her dry lips.  She shifted from one foot to the other, not knowing how to answer.  This morning he’d looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time.

This was another first.  In all the years she’d worked for Dan he’d never spoken to her like this before.  There had always been a professional boundary that had never been crossed.

“Of course I think of you,” she finally managed to stammer.

He smiled and paused as if he expected her to elaborate.

But what else could she say?  She certainly wasn’t about to bare her soul and confess her desire for some skin-to-skin action.  Not to mention that her heart had lodged itself in her throat, making speech impossible.

Thankfully Dan didn’t press her for more.  Instead he crossed the room, flung his suit jacket over a chair and loosened his tie.

Amy could feel her cheeks warm.  She turned back to the counter and scrubbed a nonexistent spot with her sponge. 

He stopped directly behind her, so close she could smell the spicy scent of his cologne and feel the heat from his body.

She turned and he was right there.  Just like this morning it struck her how big he was, how tall.  How overwhelmingly male in every way.

Her heart picked up speed.

His gaze lazily appraised her and his eyes darkened.  “You’re so beautiful.”  The compliment rolled from his lips like warm honey.   It wasn’t true, of course.  The sprinkle of freckles across her nose and the extra twenty pounds she constantly fought made her wholesome, rather than beautiful.  But suddenly, under his admiring gaze, for the first time in her twenty-eight years, Amy felt beautiful. 

“Thank you.” 

His lips quirked.  “You’re very welcome.”

Could she be any worse at this flirting stuff?  It didn’t seem possible.

She started to ask if his meeting had gotten cancelled when he took another step forward and his body brushed hers.  In that instant Amy forgot how to breathe, much less talk.

With the gentlest of touches, Dan slid his fingers into the warm silky mass at the nape of her neck letting his thumbs graze the soft skin beneath her jaw.
Waves of chills and heat raced through Amy until she was nearly dizzy.  He was going to kiss her; she could see it in his eyes.  She tossed the sponge to the counter without shifting her gaze from him.

His lips lowered and she let her eyelids drift shut, anticipation coursing through her… 

The front door slammed shut.

Amy jumped as if she’d been shot.  Panic raced through her.  Emma couldn’t find the two of them together.  She raised a hand to push Dan away and found only air.  

Her gaze darted around the room and after a long second it finally sank in…she was alone.  There’d been no Dan and no almost-kiss.  Heat rose up her neck.  She’d had vivid dreams before, but never with Dan as the star player.

 “Amy, I’m home.”  Emma’s childish voice rang out from the foyer.

“In the kitchen,” Amy called back.  She rubbed her mouth with the back of her hand.

Though it had been only a dream, her lips still tingled.

“Is it ’bout time for dinner?”  The petite six-year-old bounded into the kitchen, a streak of dirt on her cheek and a grass stain on one knee. “I’m hungry.”

Amy couldn’t help but smile.  Dan often joked that the little girl’s stomach was a bottomless pit. Emma could eat and five minutes later be hungry. “Once your father gets home, we’ll have dinner.  He shouldn’t be too late.”

Amy opened her arms and the girl ran to her.  When Amy had been Emma’s age, hugs had been in short supply.  She’d vowed when she had children, she’d make sure they knew they were loved.

Amy couldn’t imagine anything better than having a family of her own; a husband to love, a child to cherish.

Her arms tightened around Emma.  One day she’d be a mother.  But for now, this would do.   

Emma laid her head against Amy’s chest.  “I love you.”

Tears sprang to Amy’s eyes at the child’s sincerity.  “I love you, too, pumpkin.”

Yes, for now this would most definitely do.

 

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