I hurried out of the store. For the third time that week, I had stayed late at work, and I knew my mother would kill me if I didn’t make it home for dinner on time. Glancing at my watch, I didn’t see the hulking giant in front of me.
“Oof!” My feet slid on the icy sidewalk and I would have gone sprawling if the guy hadn’t caught me.
Clinging to his arms, I looked up, struck dumb by both his size and good looks. I’d never seen a guy as gorgeous, or as intimidating as him. Compared to my five-foot height, he was a walking mountain.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice deep and rumbling in his chest, sending shivers through me – the good kind.
I nodded, not able to trust me voice to work. I’d never been great around guys to begin with, except for my best friend, Sean. But Sean most definitely didn’t look anything like this guy.
“I’m sorry for bumping into you,” he said with a grin.
I finally found my voice. “No, I’m the one who ran into you. That’s what I get for not watching where I walk.”
His hands slid down my arms and he took a step back. I had to crane my neck to look up at him, but found it worth the slight pain. He looked like a god with tousled shoulder length brown hair and bright blue eyes.
When he smiled a moment later, I realized I’d been staring. I felt my face heat in a blush and ducked my head. “Sorry. I should be going.”
I skirted past him, but he grabbed my arm, making me look up at him in surprise.
“Don’t I at least get to know your name?” he asked.
“Annabel,” I answered softly.
“A beautiful name for a beautiful girl.”
I felt my blush deepen, my whole face feeling as if it were on fire, and I just knew my face resembled a hot chili pepper. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
The smile slipped from his face and his brow furrowed. “Which part? Your name isn’t beautiful, or you aren’t?”
Is he really going to make me say it, I wondered. After staring at him a moment longer, I realized he did indeed expect an answer. “I’m not beautiful.”
Everybody. “The senior class at Waite Hills High School.
He looked surprised. “You’re still in high school?”
“Only for half a year longer, then I’ll be set free.” I could have kicked myself. Of course, the hottie in front of me wouldn’t be in high school. After all, we only had one in town and I hadn’t seen him around.
He chuckled, his eyes twinkling. “So you’re eighteen?”
I nodded. “What about you?”
“Twenty. I’m a Psychology major at North Berwick College.”
Well, at least he’d confirmed my suspicions. No way is a college guy going to hang out with a senior in high school, I thought morosely.
He stepped closer and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “And for the record, the guys in your class are idiots, because you are beautiful.”
I gave him a shy smile. “Thank you. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Definitely,” he murmured, his eyes twinkling. Then he turned and walked away, looking over his shoulder at me once more.
Butterflies were rioting in my stomach and I had to force myself to look away and get in the car. I could stand there all day watching him walk away – the view was certainly nice – but Mom would kill me.
Prying my eyes away, I fumbled with my keys once more and unlocked my Nissan Versa, an early graduation present. I’d only had one request – a cute hatchback. The little blue car was adorable and I loved it dearly.
As I slid behind the wheel, I closed the door and started the car. It only took a moment for it to warm up and I was easing out of my parking space. Winter weather of this magnitude wasn’t the norm for my small Alabama town and it made me nervous driving on icy roads.
Taking my time, I drove home at a snail’s pace, my hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that my knuckles were white. Why hadn’t I allowed my dad to drop me off? Because I’m too independent, I thought with a grimace. I was really going to have to work on that.