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Opening a yoga studio was supposed to be an inspiring ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ second act, but instead I’m having a midlife meltdown.
Hudson Stewart stood in the doorway to the private dining room with both hands behind his back. I didn’t know him well, but I recognized a man on the edge when I saw one.
I pushed to my feet. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“Amy, please sit.” He nodded to my chair. “I promise this will all make sense in a second.”
What in the world is going on with him?
I sat on the edge of my seat, literally and figuratively, and tried to make sense of the enigma of a man. His posture was rigid, spine straight, shoulders back, but he dipped his chin and licked his lips as if nervous. Judging by the way his muscles bunched, whatever he held behind his back was either heavy, or he’d crushed it.
Hudson swallowed hard and moved his right hand in front of his body to reveal a large bunch of daisies. Not the fancy colorful varieties, or the kind that resembled pompoms. These were the common type with bright yellow centers and white petals.
My hands flew to my face.
How did he… Why did he… Oh my God, what’s he doing?
He gave me a shy, little boy smile. “Did I get it right? Are these your favorites?”
Still covering the lower half of my face, I stood. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hug him or bolt.
“I know this may seem sudden, but you and I…we have a history.”
I lowered my hands. “Hudson, I know people in Hollywood move quick, but…other than that weekend three years ago, we’ve only known each other for a few days.”
“Let me try this another way.” He pulled out his phone and typed something.
He’s texting me? Now?
A split second later my phone chimed. I glanced at the screen and froze. I had a message on the single parent support group app.
GirlDadInterrupted: I know your favorite flowers are daisies. You prefer tea to wine. And you have an incredible smile.
When my conscious caught up to what my subconscious already knew, I took a step back and stumbled over my chair.
Hudson was by my side, steadying me the way he had for the previous five years.
I sucked in air as fast as I could, but I couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen to my brain. My head spun. Arrogant, irritating, sexy, charming, Hudson Stewart was GirlDadInterrupted? The man I’d spoken to every day for what felt like forever? The man I’d slowly fallen in love with?
Before I could sort it out, Hudson drew me into an embrace. “Are you okay?”
“I think so. Just…stunned.” I buried my face in his chest and breathed him in. He smelled good, too good. My silly heart screamed, This is it. This is home. He’s the one.
Unfortunately, my brain sang a different tune.
We came from two different worlds. I didn’t do glitz and glamour, and he lived it every single day. He belonged with someone like Evangeline Hughes not a yoga instructor from the wrong side of town.
He eased back but didn’t release me. “I’d hate to mess up our friendship with romance…”
And there it is. The truth. Brain: 1 Heart: 0.
“Me too.” I turned my face toward his and met his gaze. Big mistake.
Lips parted, he dipped his head a fraction of an inch. “It scares me how much I need you in my life.”
“Ditto.” I moved a hair closer, unsure if kissing him was a good idea, but wanting it more than I’d ever wanted anything.
He stared as if he were trying to figure me out or trying to convince himself this was a bad idea—and it was a very bad idea.
I pressed my hand to his chest, surprised to find his heart racing beneath my palm. And then his lips were on mine, hard at first as if he were still fighting the urge to kiss me while doing just that. Then something changed, and everything softened, his shoulders, his arms around me, his kiss.
I didn’t stand a chance. Not with the I’m-just-a-guy-kissing-a-girl Hudson. Not when he held me so close and kissed me like he meant it, like he’d been dreaming of doing it for years, and now that he had the chance, he intended to make it last.
When he finally released me, he dipped his chin and turned away.
I had a sinking feeling he’d regretted kissing me. Unable to stand the silence between us, I said, “Well that was…unexpected.”
Hudson glanced back and grinned. Not his fake movie star grin, this was all dimples and wrinkles and sparkling blue eyes. “I’m a little out of practice. Can we try that again.”