Walk With Graham

I originally included the part where Graham walked Paige from the hotel bar back to her cabin. I decided to get rid of it because showing the kiss from Logan’s point-of-view seemed like it would have a bigger impact.

After he’s settled with the bartender, we get up to leave. Graham turns to head in the direction that’ll take us past Logan and Stu, so I just start walking the other way around the circular bar, relieved when he follows.

On our way out of the hotel and continuing on down the faintly-lit path, we chat about casual topics, mostly our careers. I mention to him that my dad, my sister, and my brother-in-law are in the medical profession, too, and he’s duly impressed when I tell him about Mia and Jay’s impending relocation to Africa, to work for Relief International.

Almost too quickly, we reach the cabin. Stopping at the bottom of the steps, we look at each other, our smiles friendly and uncertain.

“I’m not gonna linger and make things awkward.” His voice brisk, he offers me his hand.

I take it, letting his big, warm grip envelop me, expecting to feel a thrill, a spark—anything. But it’s just…mildly pleasant.

“I enjoyed talking to you, Paige Waters, attorney at law,” he says quietly, his eyes twinkling in the hazy light. “And just in case you want to do it again sometime…” Letting go of me, he digs out his wallet, plucks out a card, and hands it to me.

I accept it, peering at it. A business card, with his name and contact info, in embossed lettering.

“I thought you were supposed to make the woman give you her number,” I say teasingly.

He shrugs, grinning. “I’m a progressive kind of guy.”

I watch him, considering. Something twists inside me, and suddenly I know I’ll regret it if I just let him go like this. I have to know if there’s anything here worth pursuing.

“Well, that works,” I return pertly. “Since I’m a progressive kind of woman.”

Stepping close enough that my body brushes against his, I go up on my toes and put my hands on his shoulders. This time, touching him does affect me, the feel of muscle and bone beneath my palms lighting sparks in my veins, the lean and solid strength of him sending curls of warmth spinning inside me. As I bring my face up to his, he tilts his head to accommodate me, and his lips part, his breath fanning hot on my face, smelling faintly of the beer he was drinking in the bar.

Then I’m kissing him. Pressing my lips against his firm ones and closing my eyes, just feeling it, experiencing it and letting myself sink into the sensation. It’s strange at first—startling and unfamiliar—the first time I’ve kissed another man since I met Logan.

And I really don’t want to make comparisons, but I can’t help it. Locking lips with Graham is like submerging into a hot bath—lovely and relaxing.

Kissing Logan, though. That’s like being set on fire. Like being turned inside out. Like having my will shattered, my soul stolen, and my heart set afloat.

Am I never going to feel that way with another man? Never again?

Graham rests his hands on me, one on my back and the other high on my hip. It’s a light touch, so polite. And it does nothing for me.

Swallowing against the knot that’s forming in my throat, I pull back, letting my arms drop. I’m still standing close, but we’re not touching anymore.

“You’re going to make me regret being a gentleman,” he says, slightly hoarse.

I force a smile, shame burning my chest. It’s clear I’ve been using this man tonight, to prove a point—to myself and to Logan.

Profoundly uncool, Paige.

“It was nice to meet you,” I tell him, truthfully, silently hoping that he’ll someday find a woman who deserves him. A woman who’s not permanently broken.

And then I turn from him and ascend the steps to the cabin.

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