He glanced down at the roses he
carried. Maybe they would suffice as a peace offering. About to push open
the door, he stiffened as the opening strains of one of Maria's favorite
He pushed the door open and walked into
the kitchen. "Deb, I'm sorry about—"
A strange woman stood in the middle of
the kitchen floor. She held a wooden spoon up to her mouth like a microphone
as she belted out Down The Aisle in a low, sultry voice that sent chills through
him. She definitely was not Deb, nor was she shy. Anyone else would have
halted in mid–verse, looking embarrassed or surprised. Looking directly
into his eyes, she calmly continued to sing of years of living in bliss with
the man by whose hand she promised to be lead before putting down the spoon.
She wasn't pretty in the conventional
way. But the ponytail hanging nearly to her shoulders seemed to hold mounds
of thick, glossy dark hair. Her eyes were dark brown; her smooth clear skin
the color of warm, rich coco. The oversized tee shirt and baggy jeans she
wore didn't hide her rather generous curves. Without makeup, she looked
about twenty. And totally captivating.
A warm, infectious smile curved her
full lips upward.
He felt his own lips curving into an
answering smile. "Hello."
"I didn't hear you come in."
Her voice was warm and light.
He glanced at the counter where a
portable Mp3 player with mini speakers boomed away. "Can't say I'm
surprised you didn't."
Grinning, she reached over and turned
off the music. "I like my music golden and a little on the loud
He pretended to rub his ear. "Ah,
yeah. I kind of figured that out."
"Down The Aisle is one of my
"What do you like about it?"
She shrugged. "I know it's
old–fashioned these days, but it's so romantic. I like the idea of giving
my hand to the man I fall in love with and having him hold and cherish me.
Who wouldn't like the idea of years of bliss?"
Her smile widened. "So. With all
that wavy blond hair, those to die for blue eyes, and that gorgeous mug, you
must be RP Senior." She came around the counter and offered him a hand.
"I'm Annalise Lewis."
Trying not to look as surprised as he
felt by her frank assessment of him, he took her hand in his. He knew women
generally found him attractive, but they weren't often so forthright about
"You're Deb's friend? The
She nodded. "Guilty."
That explained the swollen hand. Deb
had mentioned something about some type of repetitive motion injury that had
He glanced around the kitchen, amazed
that he could see the bottom of the sink. The floor shone. "This is
your doing? You're a miracle worker," he said.
She curtsied. "Glad you
He glanced past her through the open
kitchen door, surprised that Ria and RP hadn't lurched themselves at him by
now. If they were out back, they weren't in his direct line of vision.
"Where are Deb and the kids?"
"We needed bread and a few other
things for dinner; which won't be ready for another twenty minutes, by the
way. Deb took them with her to the market." She glanced at the roses in
his hand. "Are they for Deb?"
He nodded. "They're sort of a
She nodded and he realized that she
probably knew about the argument. And she probably thought he was a first
class jerk. He laid the roses on the counter. "Well, I guess I'll go
shower and change."