She couldn’t believe she’d kissed Galen Forsythe right there in his office. It hadn’t been a polite peck, either. It had been hot and sweaty and full of desire. And she’d have done a lot more if he hadn’t stopped.
Even three weeks later Lydia couldn’t help replaying every moment of that torrid encounter over and over in her mind.
The details were etched into her brain. His hands were strong and masculine with a fine dusting of golden hair. His fingers were thick and long, slightly callused at the tips. And they’d known exactly where and how to touch her to rock her world. His lips had been softer than she’d ever imagined but not wet or sloppy, just gentle and in control. His mouth had tasted like cinnamon and coffee.
It was her first night in her new apartment, the apartment Galen had helped her find, though he only contacted her via impersonal email, the coward. Her new landlord was one of Galen’s fellow history professors, happy to rent the apartment over her garage to a recent graduate for the summer. The rent was negligible. All Lydia had to do in return was keep an eye on the main house and collect the mail while the owner was on vacation, which would be on and off all summer. Come September, Lydia would have first dibs on leasing the place for the upcoming year. It was a perfect arrangement.
Even more importantly, she’d also found a job. By herself, actually, though she was sure Galen’s recommendation had helped, along with those of her mentors in the English department. She’d applied for the position the day it had been posted and she’d even completed the first interview a month earlier—well before what she now thought of as “the incident.” At least part of her success had happened without his input.
A retired faculty member had collected an impressive collection of medieval documents, including several very rare illuminated manuscripts. On his death, Dr. Kroner had donated them to Southern Michigan University, along with the funds to hire a full-time curator for the collection. As the curator, Lydia was to have other duties besides maintaining the physical documents. What was really great about the position was that she was not just allowed, but actually required, to conduct ongoing research projects based on the collection. She also had to teach one graduate seminar per year. It was a dream job for a medieval literature specialist. The chair of the English department had called only yesterday to offer her the position. Today she’d filled out her employment paperwork, moved into her new place, and celebrated both accomplishments with Gina and some other friends. Monday she began her new career.
So why wasn’t she happy?
She’d kicked her friends out shortly after ten. Now she lay back on her freshly made bed trying to remember how many bottles of wine they’d killed tonight. She was pretty sure it was only two, maybe two and a half at most, which meant she was still well and truly sober. Damn. She couldn’t even blame her melancholy on being drunk. The one and only excuse she could come up with was that she hadn’t laid eyes on Galen Forsythe since the day of commencement, less than a week after they’d made out in his office. He’d given her a handshake and a warm smile but had disappeared immediately after the ceremony, before she could seek him out.
She swore her lips had tingled for the rest of the day and every time she thought about him, she still turned into a slavering sex fiend. One kiss with Galen had done absolutely nothing to help get him out of her system. Instead it was like an addiction. She’d had one taste, now she was helplessly craving another fix.
Just like now.
She’d gotten ready for bed, so she lay on top of the covers in a thin yellow tank top and a matching pair of boy-cut underwear. It was a cool night but she had a window cracked open for fresh air and the gentle breeze tickled her skin. She laid her hand over her lower abdomen, willing away the ache that thinking of Galen always caused. She hadn’t even dated in the last two years, because none of the young men she’d met measured up. It wasn’t that she was looking for an older man, either. She’d met plenty of those too and none of them had done a thing to flip her switches. It was just him, plain and simple.
And he’d made it clear that there wasn’t going to be anything else between them. Ever. Even though he’d clearly enjoyed himself as much as she had. Hell, she still didn’t even know if he was in a relationship. He didn’t wear a ring, so she was at least fairly sure he was single.
It was time to clear her mind and try to make sense of her future. She had a pleasant place to live, a fabulous new job and the rest of her life ahead of her. She had to quit mooning over the man she couldn’t have.
Lydia rolled over onto her stomach and rummaged around on the floor beside the bed for the box of belongings she intended to unpack into her nightstand. She opened the drawer beside the bed and sorted things into it. She paused for a second with her favorite pink vibrator in her hand then shook her head and tossed it into the drawer. It wasn’t what she needed right now. This time, she needed mental relief.
She kept a silver candle holder out, setting it carefully onto a slate coaster on the nightstand and making sure the candle was sitting right. The apartment had come furnished, and though it wasn’t in perfect condition, she didn’t want to add any new damage like burn marks to anything that wasn’t hers.
She lit the candle and inhaled the warm scents of vanilla and lavender that almost immediately infused the air. The last item in the packing box was a carved wooden jewelry box that had belonged to her mother. She closed the drawer and sat cross-legged in the center of the bed with the jewelry box in her lap.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath to center herself, and straightened her spine. “Any help you want to send this way would be useful, Granny,” she murmured. Reverently, she opened the box, unwrapped the silk scarf from around her grandmother’s Tarot deck, and shuffled.