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Home > Raid (Unfinished Hero #3)(5)

Raid (Unfinished Hero #3)(5)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Not thinking and freaking way the heck out, I pulled my hand free from his, shifted to my hands and knees and started crawling around on the floor of the pet store (gah!), gathering up stupid cat food tins.

Seriously, Spot was lucky I loved him or I’d kill him.

I stopped doing this when I felt a tingle shift along the small of my back. I turned my head and saw Raiden had hold of my bag in one hand. He had four tins of cat food clamped in his other, but his body was still and his eyes were locked on my upturned booty.

Oh God.

I was a klutz and a dork.

I was a dorky klutz!

Quickly, I shifted to just my feet, still gathering tins, piling them in my arm, snatching up my glasses, shoving them on my head and not wanting to, but having to move toward Raiden, who had my bag.

“How ‘bout we take this in turns. You go up first,” Raiden suggested.

I forced myself to look at him and saw he was grinning at me.

I’d seen that grin. It was beautiful. I’d seen him smile. That was even more beautiful. Way back in the day, I’d heard his lush, rumbling laughter. Sublime.

But he’d obviously never grinned at me.

I was right. It was beautiful.

Beyond beautiful.

Life altering.

I froze.

Entirely.

Every inch of me.

And I stared.

“Everything okay here?” Krista asked, coming curiously late to this harrowing incident I knew I’d play over and over in my head, wanting to do every second differently and kicking myself that I didn’t.

I forced myself to speak, and this time it wasn’t high. It was squeaky.

“Me first?” I asked Raiden.

His grin got bigger. My insides melted and he jerked up his chin.

I straightened to standing.

“Here’s another can, Hanna,” Mrs. Bartholomew said as Raiden rose to his full height. In other words, towering over all of us.

I turned to her and took the can she was offering. “Thanks, Mrs. B.”

She gave me a smile then looked up at Raiden. “Raid, tell your Mom I said hi.”

“Will do,” he mumbled.

She grinned at him and took off.

Raiden opened the plastic bag, indicating to me I should divest myself of my pile of cat food tins, and I had to lean forward to dump in all the cans I had clutched to my chest. This I did, excruciatingly aware that he could see right down my shirt.

That was when I thanked God I’d tossed all my crappy underwear five months ago and loaded up on the good stuff during my now-not-infrequent trips to Denver.

“I think you got them all,” Krista shared, and I looked to her, lifting a hand, tucking my hair behind my ear and wishing I was anywhere but there.

And I meant anywhere.

A sweatshop in China. At a phone making marketing calls to people who hated marketing calls and thus would abuse me before they hung up on me.

Anywhere.

Krista was scanning the floor for cans then she looked between Raiden and me. “You guys conked noggins pretty hard. You good?”

“I am, but Hanna seems a bit dazed,” Raiden answered and I stopped breathing.

He said my name.

He said my name!

I looked up at him, my lips parted.

Then I realized he thought I’d been dazed by our head knock and that was not good.

I had to get myself together.

I pulled in a breath, and on the exhale I reached out and gently took the bag from him, then assured them both in my normal voice (thank God), “I’m fine. Just… I have a lot on my mind. But I’m okay.” I looked up at Raiden. “I’m also klutzy. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, honey. You didn’t run into me, I wouldn’t have a chance to smell your perfume. Made my day,” he replied, and I blinked.

Oh cripes. He called me honey in that rumbling voice.

And he was being (could it be?) kind of flirty.

God!

I had to keep it together.

I did this (just barely), then I ran through my morning again, seeing as I was a perfume whore. I had at least twenty bottles of it. It could be anything.

I settled on a morning memory, realizing it was Agent Provocateur, and deciding the minute I got home I was ordering another bottle (or seven).

“I best get back to work,” Krista mumbled.

I tore my eyes from Raiden to look at her and saw she was looking at the floor, grinning like an idiot.

She took off.

Raiden spoke again.

“You Miss Mildred’s grandkid?” he asked.

“Sorry?” I asked back.

“Krista said she was goin’ to Miss Mildred’s this weekend. Heard her grandkid was takin’ care of her. You her?”

He didn’t know who I was.

I’d lived for twenty-three years convinced I was in love with him, no matter how totally crazy that was, and he didn’t know who I was.

He heard Krista say my name.

He had no clue.

“Great-grandkid,” I told him.

“You lookin’ after her?” he asked.

I nodded, still coping with the devastation that we’d played tug of war together at Grams’s picnic and he’d been on my team three years running, and he didn’t know me.

“How’s she doin’?” Raiden went on.

“Great. Ninety-eight going on twenty,” I replied, and he awarded me another smile.

I must have been getting better with practice seeing as that one only made my scalp and kneecaps tingle.

“Least that doesn’t change,” he murmured.

He was right about that. Mildred Boudreaux never changed. Even acts of God couldn’t change her. I knew this because, when Grams was sixteen she got struck by lightning, wandered home, clothes still smoking (or that was how the story was told, incidentally, by Grams) and asked her mother what was for dinner.

“Listen, I need to go,” I stated and his head tipped slightly to the side, which I wished he hadn’t done. Because it was just a head tip, but being his handsome head, his fabulous hair, his amazing eyes, his attention on me, it seemed both cool and hot and I wanted to ask him to do it over and over again just so I could watch.

I pulled myself together (again) and kept talking.

“I’m really sorry about bumping into you and, well… then banging heads.”

“I’m good, long’s you’re okay,” he replied.

“Peachy,” I muttered then forced a smile. “Sorry again and… later.”

Then I took off, hoofing it by him and walking fast to my bike.

I dumped the cat food bag in my cutesie, girlie basket, mounted the saddle, put my feet to the pedals and took off, heading straight to Grams’s and not looking back at the pet store.

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