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Read, Write, Love at Seaside(6)

By:Addison Cole

“Thanks. I could have done that.” Pepper jumped across her lap and circled Kurt’s feet. “Pepper thanks you, too. Did I tell you that I found him near a dumpster? He was so skinny I thought he was going to die. You’d think he’d listen to me since I saved his life, but no such luck. He’s kind of like the worst best friend you ever had.” She stepped from the car and touched Kurt’s chest to steady herself as she tugged at her wet shorts, without missing a beat of her solo conversation. “He only listens to me when he feels like it.” She shrugged. “But I love him, so…”

Kurt barely registered her explanation past the feel of her hand on his chest. It had been months since he’d been close to a woman. He’d been on constant deadlines, and women had been the farthest things from his mind.

Until now.

“Come on in and have a drink. Hey. The rain stopped. That’s lucky.” She opened the gate to the deck. “Come on, Pepper.”

Before he could comprehend her offer, she had disappeared. He was about to close the passenger door when he noticed her bra and T-shirt on the floor. He groaned and picked them up, wrapping her T-shirt over her bra so she didn’t think he was a pervert touching her lingerie, although that’s exactly what he’d like to do. If it were still on her.

Two towels, a bathing suit, and a T-shirt hung over the deck railing, drenched from the rain. The deck was fairly large for such a small cottage, with a grill and patio table and chairs. There was a back gate to the deck, and beyond that, a grassy area and a few more cottages, each with brightly colored shutters. The word quaint came to mind. Kurt knocked on the wooden edge of the screen door.

Leanna came out of a room holding the bottom of his sweatshirt between her teeth and zipping up a pair of jeans—but not before Kurt got an eyeful of bare skin where panties should have been.

She waved him in as she released the bottom of the sweatshirt. “Come in.”

He stepped inside and quickly cataloged his surroundings. The kitchen and narrow living space spanned the width of the cottage, and was devoid of any seating besides a small table with three chairs pushed against the wall to his right. Pepper was sacked out beneath the table. Kurt’s neck muscles tightened as he glanced at the line of green cabinets along the left wall, beneath which was a sink full of dishes. Every square inch of table and countertop was covered with jam and jelly jars, big metal pots, spoons, and other dishes streaked with dried red goo. An enormous mound of sneakers, flip-flops, and rain boots were piled on the floor to his left beside Pepper’s food and water bowls. Directly across from where he stood was a slightly open door. He caught a glimpse of a sink just beyond. Bathroom.

Holy. Cow.

“This is…cute.”

She smiled as she reached for the refrigerator door. “Thanks. There’s a really cute loft through there.” She pointed toward the door to Kurt’s right. “Old-fashioned pull-down stairs, too. My brothers and sister and I used to fight over who got to sleep up there. You can’t even stand up there, the ceiling’s so low, but we loved it. And there’s a pull-out couch in that room and a television, but I never use them.” She shrugged and stared into the nearly empty fridge. A second later she pulled out two bottles of beer and used the inside of his Duke sweatshirt to cover the tops as she twisted them off.

“Here.” She handed a bottle to Kurt and dropped her gaze to her shirt and bra, still in his hand.

“Oh gosh,” she said with another cute crinkle of her nose. She took them from him in exchange for the beer. “I swear I wouldn’t remember my head if it weren’t screwed on.” She opened the door of the room she’d come out of earlier and literally tossed the wet clothes into it. Kurt assumed that was her bedroom. Then she picked up a stack of clothes from a chair and carried it into the same room. “Sit down. Let’s chat a bit.”

Chat a bit? Just being around such chaos made his nerves tighten. “Thanks, but I really can’t stay.”

“Really? You can’t stay for a while? Bummer.” She came out of the bedroom and trapped her lip between her teeth, cocked her head to the side, and used her fingers to untangle the knots from her damp hair. She seemed completely unaware of her actions—and how hot she looked—as she leaned her head to the other side and began freeing the knots there, too.

Kurt, on the other hand, was all too aware of everything about her. She released her lip, and her tongue swept across it, leaving it slick and alluring.

The cottage door swung open, and a tall blond woman wearing a colorful summer cover-up over a bathing suit stepped inside. “Wow, it’s funky out there tonight.”