Emily suppressed a squeak. Speak of the demon… Alejandro stood so close their arms touched, towering about over her and also staring up at the sky while breathing in deeply. His scent and heat and nearness flooded and floored her. She swallowed and answered with a wobbly “yes”.
“Next time I make you labor like a slave-driver, please let me know,” he said. “You must be regretting you accepted the job.”
“No, I don’t.”
The words were out before she could stop herself, and she realized their truth. All complications and the nagging voice in her brain aside, she did not regret her decision.
Alejandro turned and peered closely at her. The illumination from the street lamps nearby made his chiseled features stand out, his prominent cheek bones and strong jaw looking as hard as if cut out of marble. Oh yes, he was a statue of a man. One of those Greek gods, a modern-day Adonis, but from Spain rather than Greece.
Dammit, there she went again!
He was still staring at her. Was he trying to figure out whether she had merely given the appropriate reply or really meant it? Not ready to face any deep discussions, Emily hitched the strap of her bag higher up her shoulder. Alejandro’s gaze followed the movement, and an odd look crossed his face. With a half-smile, he said softly, “You’re still doing that.”
His smile intensified. He reached out and slowly traced a long finger across the strap of her bag until it rested lightly on the back of her hand. She realized only then that her fingers had been clenching and unclenching around the leather strap, tugging and twisting.
“I remember how you used to adjust your bag and worry the strap every time you were nervous those days,” he said in the same soft voice laced with an emotion she couldn’t place.
His finger was still on her hand, a feather-light touch that had her frozen. His gaze traveled back to her face, and she drowned in it. Somewhere deep inside, the lines crisscrossing her broken heart cracked upon, slowly but surely. Why? Why did he have to drag up memories like a child worrying a dried scab and making a half-healed wound bleed again?