Gwen stepped around the fountain. Chirping birds flapped their wings. Water splashed on her arms. Laughing, she stepped back and turned to the handsome man with black-wavy hair to her right. “They’re having a lot of fun.”
“You glad I brought you here then?” Nolan asked, his husky voice tender. Grabbing a handkerchief, he patted her face.
“Oh yes, it’s been a wonderful day — the ride and the countryside. I’m so glad I could come.” She hesitated and continued. “If — If it hadn’t been for Russ’ illness, I wouldn’t be here.”
Nolan put the cloth in his pocket and reached for her hand. “It’s great you could come. I’ll have to say I’m not sorry he’s sick. I’ve been wanting to spend time with you.”
“I know. I know. But he’s a dear friend.” She inhaled a long breath. “He means a lot.”
Squeezing her wrist, Nolan gazed into her eyes. “Yes, but how much?”
Gingerly, she pushed her hand away. “You’re making it difficult.”
“Am I? Or does he mean that much to you?”
She turned her head and fixated on the fountain. The water gushed from the top tier to the second before flowing to the bottom tier’s large rock base. She swept her hand over the rippling liquid. Giggling, she stirred her index finger in the cool water and faced him.
He reached for her hand and clasped his fingers around hers. Laughing, he brushed his mouth against her hair. “Your hair smells nice but you didn’t answer my question. How dear a friend is he?”
“Must we talk about the now?” Giving him a teasing smile, she cupped her hand in the water and playfully flicked drops on him.
He leaned over and kissed her.
Shaken, she inched away from him, her heart pounding loud within her eardrums.
“You can’t avoid our attraction to each other forever, Gwen,” he said, scanning her face from her chin to her forehead.
Breathless, her eyes locked his. Trying to control her racing heart, she glanced away to compose herself. “Do you have a penny?”
“Could you give it to me?”
“I want to make a wish.”
He retrieved a coin from his pocket and presented it to her.
Touching his warm palm, she grasped it from him then raised her head toward the fountain. Oh Lord, could Nolan be the one for me? She threw the penny in the water. It sank and clunked to the bottom next to two other coins.
“Your wish?” he asked while his lips nuzzled once more against her blonde strands.
“I can’t say or it won’t come true.” Inhaling his alum balm, she nestled closer to him and said, “You smell nice,” before she pulled herself away. The church bells behind them rang four gongs. She sighed. “It’s getting late. I — I really must go.”
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