Daphne Winstead is new to the city. She’s hired by a psychiatrist’s office to do a full audit of the books, because someone is stealing from them. While there, she’s befriended by Karen, who invites her to join her and her friends for Thanksgiving dinner. She’s been trying to set Daphne up with her older brother, Ralan Hendrix, but he’s been reluctant. However, he’s promised to come to dinner. When he arrives, Daphne can’t believe her eyes.
A tall, broad shouldered, dark haired man stood there with a large, cloth covered basket on one arm. He grinned as Ian ushered him in.
“Ralan, nice you could make it. What did you bring?” He tried to peep under the cloth.
Ralan smacked his hand. “Mom’s meat pies as requested. She won’t give out the recipe to a soul. I’ve got her down to the spices and she won’t divulge them. I put it to Fritz’ expert palette to figure it out. Now, where’s my goddaughter? I’ve got something for her.”
Fanny squealed from her mother’s arms, lunging at her uncle. He set the basket down and caught her, laughing and making funny faces. He pulled a toy out of the pocket of his long leather coat and gave it to her. Baby in one arm, he wandered into the kitchen to greet the others and present Fritz with the basket of four meat pies, still hot from the oven.
He accepted all the hugs and kisses stoically until at last he reached Daphne. He held out his hand. “How do you do. Ralan Hendrix.”
“Hello, Daphne Winstead.” She was a bit formal, stiff.
Ralan wasn’t sure how to approach her. He could hardly kiss her and shaking her hand was too impersonal. Instead, he kissed her hand, dark eyes meeting hers over the top of her bent wrist. His warm lips lingered almost hungrily on her skin. Daphne’s heart fluttered. The picture hadn’t done him justice. He was twice as handsome as his photograph and had a seductive charm that was absolutely deadly. Swallowing hard, she smiled.
“Pleased to finally meet you.”
“You as well. Sis, you didn’t tell me she was devastating.”
“Would it have mattered?” Karen asked archly.
“Not really, but it would have improved the fantasies. I’m a sucker for dark brown eyes.”
Daphne had to admit that she was, too. His held a hunger she’d never seen before and it made her nervous. He was still holding her hand. She withdrew it slowly but decisively. Ralan’s fingers lingered a moment longer as his eyes devoured her. Feeling as if he undressed her with his gaze, Daphne turned away from him so those penetrating dark brown orbs wouldn’t peel away the layers of her soul. She couldn’t conceal a tiny shiver, or was it more of a thrill?
A warm hand caressed her shoulder. “You cold?” his deep, husky voice asked.
Daphne turned, nearly colliding with Ralan. He looked as if he wanted to kiss her. He leaned toward her, mouth mere inches from her neck. And what a mouth! Full lips curved in an almost perfect bow. A dusting of black hair was scattered across his cheeks and upper lip. His scent was a mixture of minty fresh and a dusky cologne that made her nostrils tickle delightedly. Pursing her lips, she kept from attacking him by sheer force of will.
She realized she hadn’t answered his question. “Uh, no. I’m fine. I think I’m a little hung over.”
“Mourning a missed opportunity.”
“That’s a pity. A pretty girl like you shouldn’t have anything to mourn.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes