The stranger looked up, his steady gaze studying her. No individual feature registered in her mind, only a magnetism she couldn't explain. In that moment, she knew this man would mean something-she didn't know what-to her. She shook her head, trying to clear the ridiculous idea. It remained, full-blown and stronger than before. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach.
She stooped to pick up Jeffrey's belongings and looked up to find the stranger crouched to assist her. Silently, he handed her the baby lotion, his fingers brushing hers. A feather touch, yet the spot he brushed warmed. If Jan were in easy reach, Ashley would strangle her friend-cheerfully. Ashley hated being set-up, especially by well-meaning do-gooders. One day she'd manage to convince her pal that she liked her quiet life just the way it was. Ordered, no surprises, no risks.
"Ashley, this is Kit Garrett, an old buddy of mine from the days when we were second lieutenants. He just arrived for the next Command and General Staff Officers Course," Charlie said. "Kit, meet Ashley Lanning and her son, Jeffrey," he added, chucking the baby under the chin. "She's in charge over at the museum."
Ashley stared into eyes more gold than brown, ringed in green and fringed with thick lashes. The stranger smiled, transforming his face from good looking in a serious way to drop-dead handsome. His large hand engulfed her smaller one. Kit straightened and pulled her up with him. He stood a head taller than her own five feet, seven inches.
"Glad to meet you." His deep, pleasing, voice sent a shiver along her spine, while his touch transmitted shock waves along her fingers, through her hand and up her arm.
"Hello." Much to her chagrin her voice came out in a squeak. As fast as courtesy allowed, she dropped her hand and stepped back, wishing a savage Indian would swoop down and snatch her away or a spooked team of oxen would burst through the wall and trample her. Anything to escape these crazy feelings. Escape being impossible, she endeavored to restore the situation to normalcy. "How's it going, Tracy?"
The gawky teenager's smile flashed braces-silver. "Still having trouble with this crummy math. At least Uncle Kit explains it so I understand it," Tracy said, tossing her father an accusing glare.
Jan bustled in from the kitchen. Apparently undaunted by the scowl Ashley shot her way, Jan beamed at her guests. "I couldn't wait for you two to meet. You've got a common interest in history."
"I should've known." Catching Kit's grin, Ashley longed to wipe the self-satisfied look off her so-called friend's face. How could she deliberately set her up with someone so...so... What? Masculine, kind, caring? Snap judgments weren't her style. Knowing Jan had her best interest at heart, he was probably wonderful. However, she wasn't ready now and maybe never would be, for Mr. Wonderful-or anyone else.
If Jan expected anything to come of her blatant matchmaking, she was in for a rude awakening. Ashley vowed then and there to pay as little attention to her fellow guest as possible.