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Need You for Mine

By:Marina Adair

Need You for Mine (Heroes of St. Helena) - Marina Adair

There wasn’t a person on the planet who Harper Owens couldn’t friend. Problem was, there wasn’t a single man in wine country who hadn’t already sentenced her to a lifetime in the friend zone.

Until now, she thought giddily, staring up at her Mr. Tall, Dark, and—ohmigod—Mine.

It had taken her eighteen long months of casual conversations, lots of lash batting, three new shades of lipstick, and a well-orchestrated flash of cleavage, but Harper was about to get her kiss.

From Clay Walker. Respected pediatrician, a Doctors Without Borders frequent flyer, and, on top of being revered by every kid and parent in town, the guy Harper had been hot for since he moved to St. Helena with his son nearly two years ago.

“Thank you for walking me home,” Harper said as they stopped in front of the yellow-and-white Victorian storefront on Main Street. She pointed to the upstairs window of her apartment. “Do you want to come up? I have some wine in the fridge.”

Clay checked his watch. “I wish I could, but I promised the babysitter I’d be home by ten,” he said, and didn’t that warm her heart. He was such a good dad. Devoted, involved, loving, and—holy smokes—was Dr. Dreamy checking out her boobs?

She watched his eyes to see if they’d dart again, and they ended up doing a mini-dip—not enough to be called an ogle, but enough that she decided it was the bra, which took her from a moderate B to a sexy C in one shimmy.

St. Helena rolled up its welcome mats at dusk, so there weren’t many people out. Just Harper and Dr. Dreamy, alone on the lamp-lined sidewalk, the gentle summer breeze wrapping around them as they stood under the twinkling lights of her grandmother’s shop and the million or so stars overhead. So she shimmied again and—bingo.

He was sizing up the goods. Which meant this was a premeditated escort.

With the latest crime spree including senior citizens, barrel tipping, and indecent exposure in the community fountain—all related events—Clay hadn’t offered to walk her home for her safety. She now knew that he’d offered to walk her home so he could make his move.

And since her body hadn’t been moved on in far too long, she was ready.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask, but there was never a time when Tommy wasn’t around, and I didn’t feel comfortable calling you at work,” Clay said, that deep voice rolling over her and lighting the anticipation that had been simmering since he’d pulled up the barstool next to hers, offered to buy her a drink, then started asking all the right questions. “So when I saw you at the Spigot tonight, I figured it was perfect timing.”

“Perfect,” she repeated, stepping closer and looking up into his deep brown eyes. It was perfect. The perfect place for their first kiss. The perfect moment to take their relationship from I teach your kid how to paint to I know how to make you pant in a single brush of the lips.

“I know this is last-minute, but I’m going to San Diego for a medical conference next week.”

“San Diego is beautiful in the summertime,” Harper said, as if all of her knowledge about the coastal city hadn’t come from the passenger seat of her mom’s car when she was nine and her mother was racing toward the border for a starring role in a vacation-resort production of Evita.

“It is,” he said. “It’s a one-day conference, but I figured it’s so close to the beach and Gaslamp district, maybe I’d stay the night. Go down Tuesday, come back Wednesday.”

“I think it’s great that you’re starting to make time for yourself. All good parents need a break.”

Clay let out a relieved sigh. “Thanks, I needed to hear that.”

Which was why she’d said it. Clay was the most dedicated parent she knew, putting his son above everyone and everything else. Including himself. He deserved some time to be an adult, have some quiet R&R to reboot.

His eyes met hers, soft and warm, like melted chocolate. Harper loved chocolate. “Anyway, I was wondering if you were free.”

“Me?” she asked, so excited she nearly choked on the word. “You want to know if I’m free? Next week?” Which was the worst possible time for Harper to get away. It was back-to-school inventory time at the Fashion Flower, the one-stop kids’ shop in town for all things kiddie, crafty, and couture, and as manager she was the only person who could handle the delivery. But a night away? With Clay? Naked? “You bet.”

“Really?” He put his hand on her shoulder and smiled.

At her.

It wasn’t the same smile he gave her when picking Tommy up from class, or even the one he’d flashed when seeing her around town. This smile was different. He was looking at her different. As if she was special. As if she was—