Enter Burk Olmstead, the best contractor in town-and Willa's high school boyfriend, whom she left high and dry when she moved away. Hard-working, hard-bodied Burk, who has been taking care of Willa's childhood home for years, also has plans for the beautiful old house-plans that conflict with Willa's B&B. When these two argue, sparks fly and reignite the fire that's always been between them...but it may take the whole town of White Pine to get these two lovers back together for good.
Willa tried to concentrate on the question, even though she was suddenly, unbearably warm. She tore her eyes from Burk’s to glance at the collage. It featured an open, homey space with cream walls and leather couches the color of an old penny. Stacks of books were placed here and there, as if any topic you wanted to read about would be within reach. The coffee table in this picture was yellow, not blue like hers, but the effect was the same. Its worn look gave all the newness a comfy feel, as if to say this was a room for using and living in—not just for staring at.
“It’s a good start,” Willa confessed. “I was thinking I’d like to have some of the same touches in the B&B.”
Burk nodded, but didn’t take his eyes off Willa. A long moment passed, during which she wanted desperately to reach for him, to take his strong face in her hands and to apologize already. To tell him how sorry she was for the past. For the way she’d been a stupid, selfish teenager and had wounded him.
Her heart pounded. She wondered, suddenly, what it would be like to start anew with Burk. Not in a relationship, necessarily, but to have something else between them besides the past. Maybe even just great sex, she thought, glancing at the thick muscles of his arms, taking in the strength of his large hands. She wondered at the hairs of his forearms, dark but soft, and how they’d feel against her skin.
God, it would be fun. She bit her lip. All this pent-up frustration would have somewhere to go. She and Burk could wash away the pain of the past with pleasure of the present.
“I like this room,” Burk said quietly. A sudden hoarseness in his voice thrilled her. He tapped a strong finger on the collage’s page. “I’ll help you with your projects if you can do a little background work on the how. You figure out the techniques, what supplies we need, I’ll help you make it happen.”
Willa’s heart surged. She was downright delighted, happier than she’d been in ages. She’d found something she could do, could learn. “Thank you!” she cried, throwing her arms around his neck before she could think twice. His arms entwined her instinctively.
As soon as their bodies were linked, the blood rushed to hear head in a roar. The warmth of his skin was going to melt her, his breath on her cheek was going to erode her, the pieces of his hair threaded between her fingers was going to end her circulation. Her body was going to cease to function, and she’d be locked in this moment. Forever.
She inhaled the scent of him and found she didn’t mind.
“Willa,” he growled. She couldn’t tell if he wanted her off of him, or wanted her pressed harder against him.
He pulled back to look at her and she saw the dark desire etched into his face again. He’s going to kiss me, Willa thought.
And this time I won’t let him flip a switch and walk away.
She was ready for it—ready for him—when the doorbell clanged and startled them both. They broke apart as the moment shattered. Their bodies distanced themselves, and Willa was instantly cold, missing the warmth of him.
Burk mumbled something and picked his paintbrush back up. Willa stood, smoothing the front of her work clothes, and walked to the door with as much dignity as she could muster. I will kill whoever this is, she thought. I will strangle them and dump their body in the Birch River.
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