This scene takes place right after Dr. Garnet Simpson’s old flame, Guy Kalama and his pregnant twin, Livvy, take refuge at Garnet’s house in the midst of a massive snowstorm in Haven Harbor!
Guy Kalama hefted his duffle bag as he came back into the kitchen. “Where do you want me? Couch?”
He caught the look in her eye, and the deep blush, and wondered what she’d been thinking. He grinned. She blushed harder.
“No, I have a guest room upstairs. I gave your sister the one with its own bath down here so she didn’t have to navigate the stairs. There’s a bath in the hallway,” she said. The blush deepened as she added, “I’m sure you’d like to get a hot shower.”
“Yeah,” he said, watching her. “It’ll feel great to stand under the hot water for a bit, thaw everything out.”
His heart lifted as she bit her lip, still blushing. She wasn’t immune to him, any more than he was immune to her. He knew he’d screwed everything up between them before. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope in the middle of a freakin’ snowstorm.
“I’ll show you where everything is.” She moved past him toward the stairs. “Can I carry anything for you?”
“Sure,” he said, stepping into the mudroom with her. He crowded her, just a little. Had he not seen that blush, he would have kept his distance. Since he had seen it, he wanted to push it a little, gauge her response. “How about you take this,” he said, handing her a small bag.
She pointed to the other bags. “Books? Shoes?”
He shrugged. “I think so. Frankly, it could be anything. We packed her up as quickly as we could and got her out. A couple of my guys were driving the van with most of her clothes, kitchen stuff, and furniture”
Her warm smile lit the room. She hadn’t retreated into the cold formality he knew she could pull over her elegant, chiseled, old New England features in the blink of an eye.
“Gosh, that brings back memories. Is it as bad as when you helped me move in here?”
He laughed. “Worse. Much, much worse. You were organized. The only thing Livvy has organized is her business. Her personal life?” he growled, thinking of Livvy’s situation. “Not so much.”
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, her hand on his arm. He froze at the light touch. A shudder ran through him as the ache of missing her eased. “I won’t pry, but I do need to know if she’s been…abused, or physically—”
“No, nothing like that. Nothing physical.”
He watched her features relax. Beautiful. He couldn’t help himself. He brushed a thumb over her cheek, then tucked an errant strand of that magnificent red hair behind her ear. She almost—almost—leaned into the caress. She seemed to catch herself at the last minute.
Now she did step away. “I’m glad of that. When and if she shares the story with me, I’ll know better if there’s anything I need to do, medically.”
He nodded, not trusting his voice. He picked up his other duffle. He hadn’t expected to stay a second night away from home, so he didn’t have much. He and two of his employees had basically swooped in and helped Livvy evacuate, planning to head right to Guy’s place beyond Haven Harbor, near Pennyfield.
“I’m going to have to call Jake Strongbow back, and my guys,” he said, as they climbed the stairs. She paused outside a bedroom. “I already told the guys we wouldn’t make it tonight.”
She looked out the window at the end of the hall. “Maybe not for a day or two,” she said, nodding toward the view. “It’s gotten worse.”
Outside, the landscape was invisible. He could see the glow marking the security light between the house and the barn, but it was like an indistinct moon behind white, snow-filled clouds. “Wow.”
“Serious storm,” she said, pushing open the spare bedroom door. “Our weather witch said it would be a three-day storm.”
“Has she ever been wrong?” he asked, knowing Estelle Hestworth was among the best weather witches ever recorded.
“Not in my lifetime. Sometimes she’ll be a few inches off in snow or rain totals, but on the general tenor of the weather? Never.”
“Are you going to have to wake Livvy up in the night?” he asked. “She sleeps like the dead.”
“Pregnancy changes that sometimes.”
“Not with Livvy,” he disagreed. “She said it’s made her worse. She’s worried she won’t wake up when the babies cry.”
The laugh that rang out in the shadowy hallway made him even more aware of Garnet’s presence. He’d missed that laugh. He’d missed her, far more than he’d known.
“A lot of new parents worry about that,” she said. “They always wake up.” She led him into the large guest room, switching on a light by the bedside. The iron bed frame was painted white, the bed covered in a heavy red coverlet with an extra quilt folded neatly over the end of the bed. “If you need more blankets, there are two or three in the trunk at the foot of the bed,” she explained, gesturing to the gorgeously carved wooden blanket chest.
“You still turn down the heat at night?”
The blush was back. “Yes, but I’ll leave it up tonight. I don’t want Livvy to get cold. If the power goes and the generator kicks on, though, it will get colder. The systems don’t run as warm or as well on gen-power,” she said, apology in her voice. She completely ignored the reminder that he knew how she liked to sleep. “It’s an old system.”
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured, moving closer to her. She looked into his eyes, and her smile faltered.
“Guy,” she started, and his heart clenched. She was going to tell him to back off, they were old news, their time long passed.
Her lips parted, but she didn’t speak. Guy hesitated, just one heartbeat, before he lowered his head and kissed her.
He kept it light, easy—a kiss he could pass off as a casual thank you between friends.
Garnet was the one who took it deeper, hotter, and made it a lot more. When she moved in, her hands dropping lightly onto his chest, he could swear her touch seared his skin. Her lips moved beneath his as he ran his hand under her long, dark braid to caress the back of her neck.
When he dropped his bag to free up his other hand, she broke the kiss. With a dazed look in her eyes, she glanced at the bag which had hit the floor with an audible thunk. As if waking up from a dream, her gaze sharpened and she stepped back. “I’m sorry. That was—”
He didn’t want her to say whatever it was she was thinking. He didn’t want her to negate what had just happened.
“It was natural,” he interjected. “We’ve had an intense few hours. We’re friends.” At least he hoped they could still be friends, after everything he’d put her through. “It’s okay.”
She looked like she was about to say more, but Guy headed it off. If she didn’t say it, he could keep the hope alive that somehow, some crazy way, she would forgive him. “Where did you say the bathroom was?”
“It’s right across the hall.” She looked discombobulated. “This bedroom and two others up here share the hall bath. I’ll show you.”
She all but fled the room. Grinning, he followed. She hadn’t told him to keep his hands to himself. He knew Garnet. If she was pissed, if she was seeing someone, she’d have stopped that kiss before it started. That she hadn’t now…that was hope.
A light popped on in a spacious room across the hall. The cream-colored tile with its floral accents was dated, but the rugs on the floor were new, and the shower curtain reflected the color of the thick, dark green towels hanging on a rod.
“You’ll find everything you need, I think. Um…” She paused, obviously unnerved. “If you need something, just look in the drawers. There are extras of most things. Towels are clean, of course.”
“Garnet,” he said, softly. “It’s okay.”
Her gaze met his. “I don’t want to feel this way about you again,” she admitted, her voice raw with emotion. “I finally got over you.”
His heart cracked open.
She didn’t move away when he ran his thumb over her cheek again, but as soon as he dropped the contact, she stepped back. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be,” he said, looking away. “You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s all on me.”
With that admission, he realized he had no right to forgiveness.
“No,” she countered, surprising him. “No, it isn’t.”
He focused on the admission. “What are you saying?”
She took a short breath, let it out in a huff. “I’m saying that you bear a lot of fault for how we parted, but it isn’t one hundred percent on you.”
Hope, so quickly doused, bloomed again.