The Room Mate Page 15

With the awkward conversations behind us, I hoped, we listened to the band in silence. Allie swayed to the music while Cannon and I stood stiffly, mere inches apart, trying not to touch.

The setting should have been an almost overwhelming barrage on my senses; it was noisy, crowded, and provided prime people-watching. Yet all I could focus on was one thing—the man standing next to me. Cannon’s spicy male scent, the heat radiating between us. The way he seemed to be distracted by my presence as well only made me more aware, more curious about this mysterious thing developing between us.

One thing was certain—Allie could never know about my growing attraction to her brother dearest. I’d just seen how she reacted to any potential distractions from his career. And what was the point, anyway, if he was moving away in two months? I’d just end up sleeping in an empty bed again, but even lonelier this time, because my best friend would be pissed at me.

“Would you like to dance?” Cannon asked, turning toward me and offering his hand.

What the fuck did he think he was doing? I stared at him in disbelief. Did he want to blow our cover?

But before I could answer, Allie’s hand was on the small of my back, nudging me forward. “Go for it, Paige. You need all the practice you can get with the opposite sex, and it’s not like you’re going to fall for Cannon!” She laughed, giving me another shove.

Forcing a smile, I placed my hand in Cannon’s and let him guide me onto the dance floor, where other couples were swaying to the soft jazz floating around us.

“Thought I’d save you,” Cannon said, his voice rich and silky near my ear.

My posture relaxed almost immediately. So that was what this was about. “Thank you.”

“She means well, you know.”

I nodded. That much was true.

While we danced, Cannon hummed along to the words of the Frank Sinatra song, moving and guiding me in sync with the music. I was starting to realize there were so many little things I didn’t know about this man.

Holding my hand in his large palm, Cannon gripped my hip with his other hand as he guided me across the dance floor. I glanced over every so often to see if Allie was watching us, but she wasn’t. She was chatting with an older man at the bar.

“Why are you still single?” he asked.

I looked up, inhaling the mouthwatering scent of crisp aftershave on his stubbled jaw.

“You’ve always been sweet and kind. I half figured you’d be married off by now.

I shrugged. “Not married. Not even close.” Just a soon-to-be thirty-year-old woman living with a dog.

“I see that. But you’ve grown into quite a beauty, princess. It makes no sense. Are you sure there’s not a reason you’re single?”

“No reason. I’m waiting for love,” I said, surprised at the honesty in my words. “And he seems to be taking his sweet time.”

Cannon nodded. “I see.”

As one song ended and blended into the other, Cannon continued to hold me, swaying to the music. We talked again about the art of making lemonade, and that’s when I decided I wasn’t just attracted to his good looks, or masculine appeal. I was attracted to the man inside, the person he’d grown into.

His words struck something inside me. I’d closed myself off to the idea of a relationship, and I couldn’t even explain why.

When the song ended, Cannon led us over to the bar, which was great. I found I suddenly needed something stronger than champagne.

Sipping a cranberry-vodka cocktail, I contemplated what I was doing with my life. Maybe Allie and Cannon were right. I needed to put myself out there more. I had a good job that I enjoyed, a nice home, a comfortable life, but I didn’t have anything real. Didn’t have a loving connection, someone to come home to, unless you counted Enchilada.

It had only recently started to bother me. Maybe it was because Allie was constantly pointing out my single status that it had been pushed to the forefront of my mind.

A little piece of me wondered if my desire for companionship was triggered by the warm, able-bodied male who was now sharing my space . . .

• • •

A couple of hours later, we’d had our fill of the gala. Allie drove us back to my house, talking of her adventures in planning their wedding. It was obvious that Cannon wasn’t any more of a fan of James than I was. He rolled his eyes at the mention of a groom’s party. That made me smile.

Stopping at the curb, Allie suddenly looked worried in the dim interior of the car. “You two can stay under the same roof and behave like adults, right?”

Cannon’s gaze met mine in the rearview mirror. “What do you think, Paige?” The hint of a smile on his full, sexy lips worked its way under my skin, taking up permanent residence.

“D-don’t be silly,” I forced out. My voice sounded unnaturally high and breathless.

“I just don’t want to turn on the news one day and find out you murdered each other,” Allie said.

I let out a shaky breath. She had no idea about my attraction to him—at least, not for the moment.

“Cannon, you should maybe get some earplugs. She snored like crazy when we shared a college dorm,” Allie continued. “And Paigey, don’t let Cannon leave all the chores for you. Crack the whip on his ass.”

“A whip. Now that’s an interesting idea.” Cannon chuckled, and I resisted the urge to kick the back of his seat.

Satisfied, Allie turned back toward the front. “Good night, guys.”

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