Three Little Words(5)

By: Susan Mallery

Consuelo gave her a look that clearly stated she thought Isabel should investigate a local mental health clinic, grabbed two towels from a stack by the mats, tossed one to Ford and walked out.

Ford wiped his face, then draped the towel over one shoulder. “What brings you here?”

An excellent question. “I thought we should talk. What with our new living arrangements.”

A single dark eyebrow rose. “Living arrangements?”

“Yes. As of last week, you’re renting the apartment over my parents’ garage. I haven’t seen you coming and going and I thought maybe it was because you were avoiding me.”

She drew in a breath. “I’m back in Fool’s Gold for a few months to manage my parents’ store while they’re traveling. They want to sell Paper Moon and I’m helping update the inventory and maybe the interior. As I’m only here temporarily and they’re on their world tour, it made sense for me to stay in the house. So I guess I’m house-sitting, too.”

Because house-sitting sounded better than being twenty-eight years old and moving back into her parents’ house.

“They told me they’d rented out the apartment above the garage but didn’t say to whom. I just found out it was to you, which is nice because you’re not a serial killer and I don’t want to live next to one.”

The other eyebrow rose as his expression changed from mild interest to confusion. Probably time for her to get to the point.

“What I’m trying to say is that I’m not fourteen anymore. I’m not that crazy kid who swore she was in love with you. I’ve moved on and you don’t have to be afraid of me.”

His eyebrows relaxed and one corner of his mouth turned up. “I wasn’t afraid.”

His voice was confident, his half smile sexy, and he looked better than any guy ever had in the history of the universe. She was sure of it. Because even as she stood there, nerves all over her body were whispering about the man so tantalizingly close. As a rule, she wasn’t one who believed in instant attraction. She had always thought that sexual interest required a meeting of the minds before there was any body-to-body contact. In this case, she might very well be wrong.

“That’s good,” she said slowly. “I don’t want you to think I’m a stalker. I’m not. I’m totally over you.”


She stared at him. “Excuse me?”

The half smile turned into a grin. “I was the only guy in my unit to have a stalker. It made me famous.”

She felt instant heat on her cheeks and knew she was blushing. “No,” she breathed. “You didn’t tell people about my letters.”

The smile faded. “No, I didn’t.”

Thank God! “But you got them?”

“Yeah. I got them.”

And? And? Had he read them? Liked them? Considered them the least bit meaningful?

She waited, but he didn’t say anything.

“Okay, then,” she murmured. “So we’re clear. You’re, um, safe around me and you’re not avoiding me or anything.”


“Yes, you’re not avoiding me?”


Was it her or was he difficult to talk to? “I’m glad we got that cleared up. The apartment is okay? I checked it before you moved in. Not that I knew who you were, which was weird. Although now that I think about it, I wonder if my parents didn’t tell me on purpose. Because of...before.”

“You mean your promise to love me forever? The promise you broke?” He said the last part with a smirk.

“It wasn’t a real promise,” she protested.

“It was to me.”

She saw the amusement in his dark eyes. “Oh, please. You barely knew who I was. You were desperately in love with my sister and she—”