Are you following along? This excerpt happens immediately after the first and is just about as mild. On a scale of one to ten, how sexy do you find Jack Howland? Personally, I love a tortured hero. He’s one of my favorites 🙂
Excerpt #2 (Will he or won’t he?)
“I’m afraid it’s my turn to convince everyone they want a doughnut.” She knew her cheeks were pink by now and was only a little gratified by the looks she was getting from the stunned Bookends.
He glanced around the small, empty space in front of the counter not crowded by tables. “Everyone’s dancing and you’re the only one who hasn’t been out of this kitchen all night.”
Kate smiled and patted Lulu’s shoulder as if she were an errant child. “Why don’t you take a break and dance with the nice lieutenant,” she said, in that butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth voice she used when she wanted something.
What she really meant was bring him back so they could have a go at him, which irked Lulu a little more than usual, but not as much as the vicious pinch Kitty delivered to her upper arm as she nudged Lulu toward the unsmiling officer.
Her hand was engulfed in his warm grip as he led her to the dance floor. She had about two seconds when she wished she could have worn something a little more attractive than the sedate, brown knit dress and matching low-heeled oxfords, but as a junior hostess, she’d always adhered to the established rules.
“I’m a little out of practice,” she said right before he swung her into his arms and a female singer doing a good imitation of Jo Stafford went into a rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You”.
“So am I,” he mumbled gruffly, and she drew back, which was no easy feat, considering the strong arm holding her just the shady side of what would be considered proper. He seemed to grow more disturbed by the minute and she avoided his gaze by taking a quick inventory of the room.
There were girls in soft summer dresses, all pink and flowery, smiling and perfumed. None of them would have turned down the handsome lieutenant. Why ask her?
She placed a hand on his solid chest. “Did somebody put you up to this? Did you lose a bet or something?”
He loosened his grip and took a deep breath right before he slid her left hand to his shoulder. When his fingers brushed over the third finger of her right hand, and detected the evidence she was a widow, he uttered a harsh, whispered word that might have been a vehement curse in another language.
“Or something,” he said very clearly, his breath warm against her ear. “Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your mind?”
“Daily. What’s that got to do with you asking me to dance?”
“What’s your name?”
“Lulu Lane. What comes after Lieutenant?” she asked, trying not to get lost in the sensation of being moved around the floor by a handsome man while people stared.
“Jack. Jack Howland,” he snapped, but then he snugged her tighter to his chest and his hand drifted over her back as if he were soothing a wound.
“Asking me to dance doesn’t seem to be making you very happy. Why did you?”
He looked as if he were losing an argument only he knew about.
“I leave in two days. I shouldn’t have spoken to you, let alone asked you to dance, because no matter what I say, it’s not going to come out right.”
“It’s not going to come out at all if you keep talking in riddles.”
He looked surprised for a moment and she was gratified that she could at least break through his maddening, mysterious behavior. “I’ve got forty-eight hours left on a three-day pass and I want to spend it with you. Clear enough for you?”