Noah was just exiting the post office when he noticed the woman from the café walk past. Marge had said her name was Beth.
Feeling like a genuine stalker, he watched as she disappeared into Bill Corrie’s real estate office. He was suddenly on high alert. The agent was a single, forty-something slob and had a reputation amongst the locals — his hands had been known to stray. Granted, it was usually when he had a few beers under his belt, but from what Noah had witnessed back in the café, Beth didn’t seem like the confident, self-assured kind of woman who would have no qualms in fending off such a shady character. Noah tried telling himself he was simply being a concerned citizen but knew it was a load of bull. He sensed a vulnerability in Beth that had him wanting to be her knight in shining armour; so, giving in to his newly developed stalker tendencies, he leant against the wall of the post office to keep an eye on things.
Just when he was about to come up with an excuse to burst into the office and see what was happening, Beth stepped out onto the street closely followed by Corrie.
He watched as Beth made a move toward a little red Getz parked close by, but Corrie had other ideas. With a sly grin that only Noah seemed to witness, the agent grabbed hold of Beth’s elbow and gestured for her to get into his silver Commodore instead.
Oh, hell no! Noah could only assume Corrie was showing a property to Beth. Even still, his conscience wouldn’t allow him to stand by and let a young woman go anywhere alone with the likes of Corrie, let alone one as timid as Beth seemed to be. Protective instincts kicked in, and before he even knew what he was doing, he’d started moving forward.
“Beth, wait up!” he called as he jogged toward them. “Sorry I’m late!”
He leant forward and gave Beth a peck on the cheek. Okay, that probably wasn’t necessary, but he wasn’t sure what made him do it. He was vaguely aware of Beth’s look of utter shock as he instead addressed Corrie’s mildly pissed off glare.
“Beth’s a friend of Ethan’s.” He looked at Corrie and gestured to Beth. “I promised I’d give her a hand looking over the property. Mind if we follow in her car?”
Without waiting for an answer, Noah took Beth by the elbow and moved her toward the Getz.
“Just play along,” he muttered under his breath. “I’ll explain on the way.”
“I’m not letting you in my car,” she whispered back indignantly, “I don’t even know you!”
“Would you rather get in his car?” asked Noah, with a slight nod of his head toward Bill, who stood staring at them with beady eyes. “I can guarantee you, he’s already imagining you naked.”
No need to admit to the same.
Beth’s cheeks flamed as she snuck a defiant look back at the estate agent.
“Fine!” she reasoned, unlocking the car after having judged him the lesser of two evils. “But I have a sharp object in my bag and I’m not afraid to use it.”
“I don’t doubt it.” Noah flashed a grin at her as he hopped in the passenger side, noticing how she tugged her dress into her lap as she sat down. He tried not to let his eyes linger on the smooth skin exposed from her ankles to her knees. Even still, he barely managed to conceal a groan. The scent of jasmine wafted over to him and he swallowed, conscious of how dry his mouth had become.
“Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on? How do you know my name and who on earth is Ethan?” Beth started the car and pulled out to follow Bill.
“Ethan’s my brother; he lives in the city. I’m Noah, by the way,” he said by way of an answer, sticking out his hand. When Beth ignored him, he relented. “Marge filled me in. And I saw you about to get into that sleaze-ball’s car. Something told me you wouldn’t appreciate him drooling all over you so I thought I’d be doing you a favour if I stepped in.”
Beth didn’t say anything else and stared straight ahead. Noah looked over at her as she drove, watching for any other kind of reaction. A small frown creased her brow as if she wasn’t sure what to make of the situation. Since first laying eyes on her, Noah had seen Beth look wistful, surprised, shocked and now confused; she was incredibly expressive for someone so shy. Every time her face transformed into something new, Noah found himself trying to memorise her features; to learn every nuance while he had the chance. He was eager to see her smile.
Beth glanced at him for a second as they pulled up to their destination. Noah still hadn’t taken his eyes from her; he was captivated.
“Can you please stop staring at me? It makes me uncomfortable.”
Now she looked pissed. Her brows drew together and her green eyes narrowed, her lips pouting slightly. They looked soft. Noah instinctively licked his own. He decided he rather liked her “pissy” look.
And then her face changed and Noah felt it like a punch to the chest. A look of pure awe descended upon her as she gazed out the window at the cottage in front of them. Her eyes grew round and her jaw dropped. She sat up taller and seemed to be physically drawn to the cottage. Her fingers found the buckle of her seatbelt and then opened the car door, all without taking her eyes off what lay before her.
Noah felt much the same way. He couldn’t tear his eyes away, but if he didn’t hurry up and get out of the car, he would soon lose sight of her. He knew then, as he scrambled to follow, that he would do whatever it took to make this woman smile.