The man ambled closer, moving like a well-fed cougar idly scoping out a herd of cattle for future reference—leisurely, relaxed, but ever watchful. The closer he got, the harder Sesty’s heart pounded. His pace was casual, but controlled. It dawned on her that he was struggling not to limp. As the door clicked closed behind him, blocking out the sunlight, his features came into sharp focus.
She knew all six-feet-two inches of him. Those angular lips had once kissed her. Those muscled arms had once held her. Those sharp eyes had drilled through her more times than she could count.
His chestnut colored hair was longer than it had been in high school. It lay in tousled waves and her fingers itched to comb through the thick, lush locks. Underneath his open black leather jacket, a black, waffle-weave, button-down thermal shirt stretched across a chest that was broader, sturdier than she remembered. Faded Levi’s sat low on his hips and a pair of black motorcycle boots shod his feet.
“Josh Langtree,” she whispered.
He gave her a front-cover-of-Sports-Illustrated smile. “You remembered.”
As if could she forget the first guy who’d ever made love to her. A guy who was now a Nascar star. Her head spun dizzily and she realized she was holding her breath.
But she wasn’t the only one who recognized him. Immediately, the eleven bachelors bailed off stage, crowding around Josh, pounding him on the back, bumping fists, slapping high-fives, hooting and hollering and doing all that testosterone-dripping stuff men did when adulating a returning conqueror.
“Oh, brother,” she muttered under her breath.
“Yo!” Jana clapped her hands. “Hate to break up the bro-fest, but we’re on the clock here. You can worship at his feet later.” Making wide shooing motions, she herded the men back up on stage.
Leaving Sesty alone with Josh.
“Zesty Sesty,” he drawled. “Twice as beautiful and sexier than ever.”
Instantly, Sesty’s cheeks burned hot as a pancake griddle. The old words he used to tease her with. Zesty Sesty.
“You’re back in town,” she said, because she didn’t know what else to say.
“Wh…wh…what…” Oh, for godsakes spit it out. “What are you doing here?”
“Came home to recover after my accident. Maybe you heard about it?”
There was a note in his tone—part hopeful, part sad, part braggy, part lonely, that yanked at something inside her.
Of course she’d heard about it. The spectacular crash had been on TV and the talk of the town for a good week. In fact, she’d watched horrified until they’d pulled him from the wreckage and he’d jumped to his feet, arms clasped over his head in a victory-over-death-gesture that had made her mad. His dangerous antics had been the very thing that had broken them up. She’d been unable to tolerate the fear that came with loving a daredevil.