He leaned against the wall of the First Baptist Church, seeking shade and the cool prickle of brick against his back. Main Street, North Carolina, was not his scene at all. But with Lynn’s wedding scheduled for three weeks from today, even Boston had begun to feel uncomfortably warm. Too many parties. Too many phone calls from mock or mutual friends eager to pry or express sympathy. He was better out of it. All of it. The offer from Edward Cutler couldn’t have come at a better time.
Nothing like a new challenge to get a man over being fired.
Con crossed his arms against his chest, shutting down the flare of frustration. Define the problem, he reminded himself. That was the way he operated. Solve the problem.
He surveyed the street, spanned by a banner that proclaimed the town of Cutler’s Seventh Annual Super Summer Sidewalk Sale. From the church parking lot to the county courthouse steps, racks of out-of-season clothes competed with bins of plastic trinkets. Halfway down the block, Arlene’s Country Cafe supplied coffee and doughnuts to passing patrons, while the rival establishment on the opposite corner handed out clear plastic cups of...Lord knew what.
Con narrowed his eyes at the freshly painted green-and-white sign over the door: Wild Thymes. Cute. Very cute. As he watched, a vendor leaned forward from beneath the cool canvas awning to offer an elderly customer a plastic fork and a smile.
Sunlight dropped across her face. Her tawny hair blazed, stirred by a hot breeze. For that one moment, sun and wind combined to create a vision of light and movement that burned like summer sparkling on lake waters. For that one moment, the woman leaning across the plank counter was Woman, divine and incarnate. Wild yearning uncurled in Con’s Celtic heart. Awe breathed through his Catholic soul. She was Eve before the Fall. She was Niamh of the Golden Hair, legendary love of Oisin. She was the Lady on the White Horse in his mother’s stories.
Desire hit him, hard and low. And striking harder, unrecognized and unwelcome, possibility assailed him like the sea.
Then the breeze dropped. The woman turned her head to talk to someone over her shoulder. Green shade drabbed the golden hair and dimmed the radiant face, leaving only a waitress, chatting up a customer.