After our dinner that night Seth walked me back to my car. In the dimly lit parking garage he leaned past me to open the door and I thought he was going to kiss me. Shamefully, I have to admit that I was horribly disappointed when he didn’t. He did run the back of his hand along the side of my face again just before I got in. That simple touch in and of itself started a fire raging in the pit of my stomach. I got in the car and drove home, trying to remember what I was doing here. If I’d had too much trouble grasping it, Grant was there for me when I got home and I told him, as always.
“Hey doll face. Where ya been until ten o’clock on a school night?”
“Ha ha! You’re hilarious,” I told him. “I worked until late and then I had dinner.”
“Is it whom? I would have gone with who.”
“That’s because you were a business major. It’s all numbers, no English.”
“Look whom is talking,” I said with a smile.
“Knock off the Laurel and Hardy routine and answer the question.”
“I had dinner with my boss,” I said. “It was strictly professional.”
“Really,” I said.
“Hmm, then why did you hem and haw and blush, and why is your hair all down and pretty around your shoulders? You never wear it like that in a professional capacity.”
I yawned and said, “Oh wow, look how late it’s getting. I should get to bed.”
When I reached the hallway he said, “Erin.” I stopped and turned around to face him. He had his serious face on now. He was no longer playing as he said, “You’re going to get hurt.”
I know he loves me, but I didn’t want him taking away my happiness tonight.
“How do you know that, Grant?”
“Because this is about family, baby. You want revenge for yours and he will undoubtedly be willing to go to great lengths to protect his. Family is one of those things that have torn couples apart for centuries. Please be careful.”
“I am being careful,” I lied. I had completely let my guard down tonight and had not once considered the fact that I intended to destroy everything that Seth held dear. I went back over to where Grant was standing and he opened his arms. I folded myself into them and as he hugged me I said, “I’m trying so hard not to feel anything for him.”
“Sometimes chemistry, or love, or whatever you want to call it, can’t be overridden.”
I pulled back and looked at him and said, “So then what do I do?”
He wiped the loose curls off my forehead and looked into my eyes and said, “You have to decide which one you want more because I’m afraid that you can’t have both.”
I went to bed that night with Grant’s words ringing in my head and Seth’s gentle touch resonating in my heart. Grant was right, it was doubtful I could have this man if I also chose to destroy his family. But how could I give up something I’d virtually lived for over the past eleven years? The warm, cozy feeling I had left Seth with that night morphed into a pounding headache and very little sleep. I went to work the next morning resolving to keep my distance from Seth. I think he is genuinely a good man and my attraction to him was strong, but I owed it to my father to take back what he had intended to be mine. I couldn’t do that if I was emotionally involved with the enemy.
Several hours after I had that thought, I was sitting at my desk pouring over some documents that Harlan wanted my opinion on when there was a knock on my half closed door. Without waiting for an invitation, it was pushed open and Seth appeared.
“Good morning,” he said, with that smile that drove me wild.
“Good morning,” I said, returning his smile. I tried to make mine less enthusiastic, but my body reacted in strange ways when he was around.
Seth came in and closed the door behind him. I expected him to have a seat in the chair on the other side of my desk. Instead, he came around to where I was sitting and took me by the hands, pulling me to my feet. I was standing with my head tilted back, looking up at him wondering what in God’s name he was doing. He didn’t make me wait long to find out.
“I barely slept at all last night,” he said. “I kept thinking about our dinner and walking you back to your car and the one thing I should have done, but didn’t.”
I was pretty sure I knew what he was talking about, but just because I’m a glutton for punishment I said, “What was that?”