Bad Case of Loving You(5)

By: Kait Nolan

He cleared his throat, offering one of the flutes of champagne that he’d miraculously not bobbled. “None to apologize to.”

So he was single. Wasn’t that…convenient? Had he been the perennial bachelor, or did he have some failed attempts at matrimony in his past like she did?

Paisley accepted the glass, grateful to have something else to wet her throat and keep her mouth from running away from her brain.

Ty lifted his own glass in a half toast. “You’re better at that than you were at sixteen. And you were damned good at it then.”

She couldn’t quite hold in the unladylike snort. “Well, I’ve kissed a lot of frogs in my time. You, my dear Tyson, are no frog.” And damn if it hadn’t almost been worth the eighteen years to taste him again.

“What are you doing here, Paisley?”

She might have been offended at the question if he hadn’t looked so truly baffled by her presence. “It’s a wedding, sugar. The correct question is ‘Bride or groom?’ and the answer is bride.”

“You know Ivy?”

“We travel in some of the same writer’s circles in Nashville. Or did before she moved to be with Harrison. And you are clearly with the groom. Army buddies?”

“We were in the Rangers together.”

Rangers. So he’d gone all the way to Special Forces. “You always did want to be the best of the best. Congratulations.”

Something dark and painful flashed in his eyes. Someone else might have missed it, but she’d once known every single one of his expressions.

“I’m not a Ranger anymore. Left the Army a couple years ago.”

When he’d enlisted, he’d planned to be a lifer. She imagined Garrett’s death had been the thing to change his mind. While she hadn’t lived in Cooper’s Bend in years, the death of one of its favorite sons had been big, tragic news that had reached her even in Nashville. She didn’t know the details and certainly wouldn’t ask. Garrett had been closer than a brother to Ty. His loss would’ve been devastating.

Wanting to circumvent that conversational land mine, she sipped at her drink. “What are you doing these days?”

“Law enforcement.”

“I can see that.” He’d viewed the world as so very black and white. Did he still, or did his time in the Rangers make him appreciate the gray?

Because she didn’t like the shadows creeping into his eyes, she set the champagne flute aside. “It’s been forever and a day. How about a dance for old time’s sake?” Holding out a hand, she wiggled her fingers. “C’mon, might as well complete the walk down memory lane.”

Something else flashed in his eyes at that. Something hot and interested that told her she wasn’t the only one who’d been thinking about where that kiss could go.

His strong fingers curled around hers. “Okay. But I’ve learned a few things in the past couple decades. This time, I get to lead.”

Oh, yes please.

Having Paisley Parish in his arms was a smorgasbord of sensory memories. The scent of her hair was somehow the same and different from the first time he’d danced with her, after she’d laid one on him that long-ago homecoming. He’d fallen a little bit in love and a whole lot of lust with her that night. She was bold and fun and fearless in a way he’d always admired the hell out of. And the two and a half years after had done nothing but sink him deeper.

The silky feel of her skin where her slim hand wrapped around his made him remember those hands. Tucked in his as they took long walks down by the river. Skimming over his cheeks, his shoulders, his chest, and lower as they explored every inch of each other on a warm September night in the back of his truck, as the fireflies winked. He’d thought himself the luckiest bastard on earth, and even now he wasn’t entirely sure he’d been wrong. He’d jumped out of planes, run headlong through enemy fire, diffused bombs, and still kissing her was one of the biggest highs he’d ever experienced. As he swayed with her on the edge of the dance floor, close and yet not close enough, he couldn’t help but think of doing it again.

“So am I correct in assuming there is presently not a Mr. Paisley who left you in the lurch tonight? Or do you kiss all your rescuers?”