I was hearing rumors around the office of a big promotion coming my way. Even Mr. Peabody hinted at the possibility of some “exciting new changes on my horizon.” Funny thing was, though, that I was not nearly as excited about the possibility of a promotion as I would have thought. Wasn’t this what I had been dreaming about, a fast-paced lifestyle and a prestigious career? That was why I had moved to Seattle three years before, after all.
But now all I could think of was rolling green fields, crisp white fences, and the unmistakable tang of salty air. That, and a pair of warm brown eyes, with green flecks gleaming in the sun.
I wondered what Rusty was doing right at that moment. I looked at my desktop for the time—it was just shy of four o’clock in the afternoon, almost quitting time. Rusty was probably working out in the field, helping Reggie with the animals. Grace was probably making her plans for a delicious dinner, having set her knitting aside to feed her two men.
I missed them. It was strange to think how close I felt to that family, when we had only been together under the same roof for one week. There was something warm and inviting about them, making me feel as though I had always known them.
I felt something more when I thought of Rusty, however. An ache which was so bittersweet, followed by an irresistible urge to smile and giggle foolishly to myself occurred whenever I would allow myself to daydream, remembering the feel of his arms wrapped around me, or his hand in mine, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes when he smiled, and his laugh.
I hadn’t spoken to Rusty since our final good-by in his driveway. I had been so busy with work it was difficult to find the time to call. But it was more than that. I didn’t really know what to say.
“Thank you for a lovely week. Too bad I already have a life and career in Seattle. Maybe I will see you next year,” didn’t really sit well with me. Plus it wasn’t actually how I felt.
“I miss you. I want to be with you. I think I am falling in love with you.” That was the honest truth.
But Rusty also hadn’t called me either.
I was daydreaming about that first kiss in the shadow of the lighthouse and setting sun when Trina, the assistant who ran our division’s schedules, popped her head into my cubicle.
“You have a new client appointment in the conference room, Annie,” she said in her sing-song voice.
I turned to look at her in surprise.
“A new client? You know I don’t have time for a new client while I’m still working on the Rockefeller account. Why don’t you give them to Sarah?”
Trina just gave me a smug little smile.
“Trust me,” she said. “You’re going to want to keep this one for yourself.”
I made my way to the conference room to meet with my new mystery client. When I opened the door, I gasped in surprise. There was Rusty, with a bouquet of orange and purple tulips in his hand. He was looking at me with a shy smile on his face, as though he wasn’t sure what my reaction would be to his visit. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m looking for some professional help on an advertisement for my family’s business,” he started slowly. “I heard that you’re the best.”
I stood at the door, my hand still on the doorknob. He looked so nervous, so different from the Rusty that had taken me in his arms on our last night together. I melted on the spot. “Do you always bring flowers to your prospective business associates?” I asked coyly, my eyes never leaving his.
“No, but I do bring them to prospective girlfriends, err, I mean, I would….” He trailed off uncertainly, and I let him off the hook with a laugh.
I quietly shut the door and walked into the room.
“And could this prospective business associate/girlfriend expect to receive certain privileges?” I asked walking right up to him, placing my hand on his chest.
Rusty raised an eyebrow. “I am certain that privileges could be negotiated. What are your terms?”
He slid his arms around my waist, pulling me in tight. That was more like it.
“I’d say this prospective business associate/girlfriend would need to come visit your family business to make a proper advertisement,” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck and running my fingers through his hair. Oh my gosh, I had just been dreaming about doing this very thing!
“I concur,” he responded, looking down at my mouth.
“I’d also say this prospective business associate/girlfriend should have access to a certain pair of lips whenever she deems it necessary.”
Rusty kissed the tip of my nose. “I think that could be arranged.”
He leaned in for a kiss, taking my mouth on a sweet and intoxicating ride. Oh, I remembered those lips, those arms. It felt like coming home.
We broke apart and Rusty played with my hair, wrapping it around his fingers while still holding me close. “What are we going to do?” I asked him, serious now.
“I don’t know,” he replied, and then took my face in both his hands. “But I do know that I found something special with you, and I think it’s worth investigating a little more.” He kissed me again, hard and deep. The conference room and my work on the Rockefeller account all disappeared from my thoughts. Everything was focused on this moment in time, standing here with the man that I was starting to fall in love with. I didn’t know if a relationship with Rusty was going to work, but just like he had said, it was worth a try. He made me feel things that I had never felt before, made me long for sensations I hadn’t even known existed. He was my here and now.
“We’re only a ferry ride apart,” I said, after we had paused in our embrace for breath. Rusty was passing his lips down my neck, causing a tingly thrill to run through me. “And I think the island is good inspiration for my projects.”
“Besides,” Rusty said, standing upright and handing me the bouquet of beautiful spring flowers, a twinkle in his eyes. “I think that Rascal misses you.”
“Well, we mustn’t disappoint Rascal,” I said lightly.
I knew that I had made my choice, and I wasn’t looking back.