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Finding Our Forever(10)

By´╝ÜBrenda Novak



“Hello,” she said.

“I see you made it safely.”

“Yes.”

He motioned toward the older BMW X3 sitting in the drive. “Can I give you a hand with anything?”

“No, it’s okay. I was careful when I packed—didn’t make the boxes too heavy. I can grab it.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded, so he handed her the orientation manual he’d brought over. “I doubt you’ll care to read all of this. Watching paint dry would be more interesting. But there’s a table of contents. I figured you could glance through, check out any topics you’re curious about and become familiar with how we do things around here.”

“I’ll take a look at it.” When she hugged it to her ample chest, he decided her body was partly what he found so attractive about her. She wasn’t as skinny as some of the girls he’d dated. She was curvy—looked soft, comfortable, sexy.

He searched his pocket for the more important part of what he’d come to give her. “Here’s a key to the high school, as well as one to the art and ceramics rooms. With school starting next week, you’ll be eager to set those up.”

“Definitely. Thank you.”

“You bet. You received the group email about the staff meeting tonight?”

“I did. That’s why I came a few days earlier than I would have otherwise.”

“Great. I’ll see you there.” He started back toward his truck. “Everyone is eager to meet you.”

“Mr. Turner?”

“Call me Eli,” he said as he turned.

“Okay, Eli it is. Where, exactly, is the meeting tonight? You showed me the library when we toured campus the day I interviewed, but I’m a little turned around at the moment.”

He went back and flipped past the syllabus he’d given her to the campus map on the next page. “You’re here,” he said, and drew a line from her house to the library so she could easily find her way.

“Thank you.”

“Sure,” he said. But instead of leaving, he went over to her SUV and began unloading the boxes. He just couldn’t leave a woman to do that alone, not when it would be so much easier for him.

“Whoa, I can get those,” she said, hurrying out to him. “Really.”

“There’s no need for you to carry all of this stuff by yourself. Just point to where it should go. It’ll only take me fifteen minutes.”

As promised, in a short time, he had her vehicle completely unloaded.

“Thank you,” she said as he put down the last box.

“See you later.” His conscience appeased, he started toward his truck.

“Eli?”

He stopped again. “Yes?”

“I—I have a boyfriend. Sort of.”

He felt his eyebrows slide up. Then he almost laughed. She was assuming he had an ulterior motive for helping her. “I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression,” he said. “I was only trying to make your move a little easier.”

Her cheeks bloomed red. “Right. Of course you were. I’m sorry.”

* * *

Cora’s face burned as she watched Eli drive off. “What’s wrong with you?” she muttered to herself. “Of course he was just trying to help. It’s not as if he asked for your number.”

That blunder actually said more about her than it did him, she realized. He hadn’t been anything but circumspect. She was the one who’d had a difficult time keeping her eyes off him. She was so aware of him on a sexual level that it was hard to act as if she wasn’t, which was odd. She couldn’t remember having such a strong reaction to any other man. That was the reason she’d suddenly tried to throw up a barrier. She’d been hoping to give him a reason to look at her differently—or stay away entirely—and wound up making a fool of herself instead.

“I told you I didn’t need your help,” she grumbled to him even though he was gone, and cringed at the prospect of having to face him at the staff meeting in a few hours.

“You had to do that on your first day here, Cora?” she said as she started to unpack.

Her phone dinged to let her know she’d received a text, and she paused to pull it out of her pocket.

Jill. What’d “dark and brooding” have to say?

Dark and brooding. How apropos. But since she was still writhing with embarrassment, Cora didn’t want to talk about Eli, so she scowled at the clock. Aren’t you at work?

You know I am. I was talking to you while driving here.

I don’t want to get you in trouble for being on the phone. I’ll call you later.

Is that a dodge?

Yes. But as long as her friend was willing to risk getting caught on a personal call at work, Cora figured she might as well break the news. He said he’s not interested in me.

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