“Hello,” he answered as they stilled.
Finally, when he dropped the cooler from his shoulder, she managed to get her brain in gear. “I’m Greer Ashford and you would be?” Slowly so as not to slip on the wooden steps she mad her way down towards him. She wasn’t prepared for the overall appraisal she received and fought her hand from rising to primp at her hair. With the wind blowing through the house, she hadn’t bothered to tame back the tendrils the wind had blown from its band. She halted several steps from the bottom and let herself get a better look at the stranger standing in her hallway. Her first impression was right, he was tall, dark haired with a tight, muscular body and kind dark brown eyes.
“I’m Edmund Miller,” he started and paused as she came down the stairs and into the light. He openly stared at her violet eyes, unable to break the trance they’d drawn him into.
“Hello, Mr. Miller.” Greer was used to the startled reactions, only most people managed to look away much sooner than he was. “Thank you for carrying in my cooler. The kitchen’s through there,” she told him, surprised by her calm tone. She watched him for several seconds longer before he managed to clear his throat and react.
“Sorry, you resemble Galina, your coloring and eyes, for a second it was like she was here.”
“Really, Galina?” she questioned and watched a quizzical look over take his face.
“This is her house…your house,” Edmund studied her face, took in every line and feature. Greer felt as if he were trying to memorize her.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Miller, but I only saw her name and that of a Mr. Tuck, and he was the lawyer that contacted me.” This time she tried to hold his gaze, wanted to see if his eyes were really the color of milk chocolate. Greer felt a heated blush creep up her cheeks as they studied each other.
“When what?” Greer felt an overwhelming lust she’d never experienced before. This man eluded pure sex, raw and powerful.
“When did you find out about the house?”
Edmund stared down at her but she didn’t back away, she widened her stance slightly and took a deep breath. It was becoming a stand off. She needed to be more assertive for herself, especially after the major debacle with Harold Dodd. Somehow she felt this wasn’t the right time to assert herself with Edmund Miller. Greer pulled back physically from him and his questions, resentment surfacing as she openly appraised him. This was her home and she’d be damned if she’d start explaining herself to a total stranger.
Taking a different tack, she glanced at the cooler he still held and nodded to the kitchen. She managed to make the walk without tripping or falling over her own feet knowing he was just a few steps behind her. In a perfect world, she’d of liked to follow him and see what he hid molded under the jeans he wore. Instead, she put the space of the kitchen table between them. In the bright light they both got a better look at one another.
“I don’t have much in yet, but there are some soda’s in there.” Greer started and it spurred Edmund to put the cooler at the base of the refrigerator. His words tumbled out apparently before he could pull them back.
“Didn’t you know about her? Didn’t you ever get her letters?”
He studied her with a hesitant glare and Greer didn’t like it. After Harold, she wasn’t about to let another man get her defensive from the get go, instead, in her home, she’d dictate the mood. Only Edmund struck her differently, his eyes questioning her, watching her every move. It made her uncomfortable but not nervous, more giddy than afraid.
“What letter? No, I didn’t know the woman who had the house before me. I only found out….”
“She tried to reach you for six months, kept sending letters that you kept returning.” His accusatory tone bothered her and she didn’t hold back the impulse to tell him.
“Mr. Miller, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve gotten no letter, nor did I send any back. And I only found out about the house a few weeks ago.” It was a small omission to tell him why, especially since he was a total stranger.
Drawn to him, she wanted to tell him the truth but didn’t. Even Greer recognized that in a small town or on this small island, she would be the main topic of conversation. Spreading her tale of woe and poor choices of fiancée was her business, not that of the gossip grapevine. It was one aspect of her past she decided to gloss over.
“I’m sorry I sounded so brusque, it’s just that she really wanted to meet you. I suppose I got protective of her towards the end.”
“I don’t understand any of this. Do you have the letters she supposedly sent me? Would Mr. Tuck have them?” This stranger was starting to make her anxious; not about him the person, rather all he seemed to know that she didn’t.
“I packed them away with the rest of her things.” His statement was flat, only information of the barest minimum. To Greer, he sounded angry.
“You packed them away, were you a relative?” Damn, she registered he might be some long lost cousin or relative. How sad that would be, especially how she was lusting for him. Yes, she decided, a total stranger and she wanted him, physically.
“No, just a friend. After she passed, Tuck asked me to keep an eye on the place until you decided what you wanted to do with it.” He drew a breath and relaxed his posture. “Look, I can see you’re obviously confused. I didn’t mean to barge in here and give you a hard time. Obviously there was an error in communication.”
“Yes, I guess so.” She hesitated, “Would you like that soda now?” Greer moved towards the cooler and realized it was a mistake. The closer she got to him the more she wanted to reach to him. If asked, she would have said she’d known this man all her life and had loved him longer. She reached towards him to stroke the soft hairs covering his jaw and pulled back quickly. His look held hers; he didn’t pull away or even seem surprised. For an unblinking moment they connected visually.