Fallling for the Prodigal Son (26 page)

BOOK: Fallling for the Prodigal Son
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"We aren't here to talk about me." Sterling quirked an eyebrow in disagreement. "This—" she waved an arm back toward the house and the lawn. "This is a perfect place for the camp. It's big enough. There's practically a commercial-sized kitchen in the house. There's a swimming pool, which would be better for swimming lessons than the bay."

While Lucy was reciting the pitch she had rehearsed on her way to the house, Sterling brought himself to stand directly in front of her. Lucy's voice faltered for an instant at the sudden appearance of Sterling's chest mere inches from her lips, then she recovered and continued.

"It would free up the other waterfront land for your more profitable uses. That would make the bankers happy. This property could also be used for events during the winter. Weddings, corporate retreats and such. That would also add to the Inn's bottom li—"

In front of her, Sterling's chest had been replaced by his eyes. Dark eyes, hooded with desire. His warm breath tickled her nose. Was her heart still beating? Lucy couldn't tell.

"This is the only way to get you to stop arguing, isn't it?" Sterling said, and then Lucy's mouth was covered by his, was being devoured by his hungry, searching kiss. She felt his hand thread its way through her hair and cup her head, to pull her hard against him. Long streaks of desire shivered through her. Then she kissed him back, even as warning bells were clanging in her brain. Sterling groaned and pulled her toward him, stumbling backward until he was leaning against a wall.

His lips left hers, then reappeared against her neck, searing hot kisses on her soft skin and jawline. Lucy pushed on his chest, propelling herself back, away from him. Her lips were throbbing, bruised. She had to stand firm here.
Don't let your emotions get in the way. He's a good kisser. So what.
She wasn't taking failure back to the camp.

"Mr. Adams' generous gesture solves all the problems surrounding the camp—"

Sterling took a long step toward her and crushed his lips against hers again. "There's still one problem it doesn't solve," he murmured against her lips. "You leaving."

Lucy stepped sideways to free herself from Sterling's kiss. She looked at him, not sure she had heard him correctly.

"That's a problem?" she whispered. She tried to tamp down the tiny bubble of hope rising in her chest.

Sterling slumped back against the wall and sighed. "Yes. It's a problem. A big problem."

"And why is that?"

Sterling raked a hand through his hair again. He looked down at his feet, then looked back up, straight at Lucy. This time, he made no attempt to hide the mix of longing and anguish on his face. "Because I've fallen in love with you, Lucy."

She'd been waiting to hear those words from him. Waiting, she realized now with a shock, for the past fifteen years. Yet, it didn't—couldn't—make sense.

"But you're leaving town ... when the Inn gets on better ..." Lucy's voice trailed off. What good was his falling in love with her when he had stated over and over that he was leaving just as soon as he could?"

"St. Caroline's subtle charms have been growing on me." He gave her body a slow, hungry gaze from head to toe. "And its not-so-subtle charms, too."

"So you're staying ...?" Lucy had to be sure, absolutely sure.

"If you stay. Otherwise, St. Caroline's charm might wear off." Sterling hitched his shoulders to push his back away from the wall. "Where are you going, Lucy Lou?"

"New York. To get my yoga teacher certification."

"Do you have to leave to do that?"

"Are there any yoga teacher training programs in St. Caroline that I'm unaware of?"

"Probably not." Sterling was in front of her again, traced a finger down her cheek, then leaned in and dropped a gentle kiss on it.

Lucy's breath caught in her throat. "I'm only going away for a month. Then I'll be back."

A glimmer of understanding dawned in Sterling's eyes. "Ah, you're going to reopen that yoga studio ..." he hesitated, waiting to see some sign of confirmation on Lucy's face. "Right?"

"I know, most businesses like this fail," she said.

"If it does, you can always come work for me again."

She shook her head. "I'm ready to do something new. When we were in Laura's yoga studio, something in my heart just, I don't know, opened. Released. I wanted to do that, too." She paused, her heart hammering in her chest. "Besides, if I'm working for you, then I can't ..." She hesitated again.

"Can't what?"

Lucy reached up and entwined her fingers in his hair. "Can't kiss the boss," she said and pulled his lips down onto hers. Sterling let her kiss him, deeply, then pulled her down onto the floor. They sat facing one another.

He looked seriously into her eyes. "Transferring the camp over here would be a big job. Do you think Douglas is up to that task?"

Lucy was speechless for a long moment. Was she hearing this right? Was he—

"Are you seriously considering this? Would you accept this property for the camp?" she asked quietly, hardly daring to believe it.

"Well, I would need something in return."

"Like what?"

Sterling thought for a moment. "I would need some place to live. While my mother thinks the world of you, she might draw the line at my ...
entertaining
... you in her house. Your cottage is available right away, isn't it? Although you'd have to get that key back or else I'll have to change the locks."

Lucy's heart made the final leap. "There would be other duties, in addition to rent."

A smile spread across Sterling's face. "Am I qualified for those duties?"

"Consider this your employment interview," Lucy replied as she crawled toward Sterling and pushed him back until he was lying on the floor. She wanted to see that dark glitter in his eyes for the rest of her life. She felt his hands on her lower back, firm and confident, as he pulled her hips flat against his. She leaned her elbows on his chest.

"And did you say that this place would be available for winter weddings?" Sterling said.

Lucy's heart was close to bursting. She closed her eyes and touched her forehead to his. "If you had asked me two months ago, whether I would end the summer telling you that I loved you ..."

"You'd have said yes."

Lucy let her lips find his and kissed him with a sureness, a passion she couldn't have imagined the last time they were in th
e boathouse together.

"How long do you think his errands will take?" She punctuated the words with kisses, then gasped when Sterling slipped his hands under her shirt and slid them along the bare length of her back. 

"We didn't get caught before ..."

About Julia Gabriel

Julia Gabriel writes contemporary romance fiction.

She lives in New England, where she teaches writing at a university and divides her time between writing and quilting. Visit Julia Gabriel's web site at
http://www.authorjuliagabriel.com
or her Facebook page at
http://www.facebook.com/authorjuliagabriel
to lea
rn about upcoming releases.

 

Books by Julia Gabriel

 

Falling for the Prodigal Son

Cupcakes & Chardonnay

Feral

 

 

BOOK: Fallling for the Prodigal Son
13.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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