She unlocked the door and went into the dark house, shutting the door behind her. Set her purse and laptop bag on the couch, then headed down the short hall toward the master bedroom. The cabin was decently sized, three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, a gorgeous back deck that overlooked the lake and a spa. Just thinking about that spa made her skin tingle, and she sighed wistfully as she pushed open the half-closed door of the bedroom. Already she eagerly anticipated collapsing into bed and sleeping in till mid-morning.
A startled little scream escaped at the sight that greeted her.
The curtains on the windows that flanked either side of the bed were drawn wide open, the silvery light from the almost-full moon illuminating the shape of a very large man lying in the middle of the bed, the sheet wrapped low around his hips, revealing his bare upper body. Sound asleep from the looks of it since she could hear his soft snoring.
She'd screamed, and he hadn't woken up. He must've been so tired. Who the hell was he? Some sort of exhausted bum who'd broken into the house looking for a place to crash? God, she wished she had a baseball bat in her hand. Or a knife. Or a gun.
But what would she do with a knife or gun? She was being ridiculous. Not like she'd stab him or shoot him, she wasn't a violent person.
Trembling, she backed out of the room, her steps careful, holding her breath so she wouldn't make a sound. She turned on her heel, headed toward the kitchen so she could call the cops and then she heard him.
Rustling in the sheets, the mattress creaked as he shifted and a muttered, "what the hell" emanated from him.
Julie halted in her tracks. She swore she recognized that voice. But from where?
She didn't have time to figure it out.
Quickening her steps, she hustled down the hall, skidded into the kitchen and flicked on the light. When she saw the cordless phone sitting in the middle of the counter, she grabbed it and started punching in 9-1-1.
Eyeing the hallway, her mind whirled. No way could she take a chance. He might be a...serial killer. Or a rapist. Some creepy hobo-type guy that wandered from town to town, bunking down in semi-abandoned homes looking for some quick shut-eye.
No thank you. She wasn't going to stick around for that. The cops could escort his ass right out the door.
Deciding it best she head toward the front door herself, she grabbed her purse off the couch as she passed, her finger poised on the send button, her other hand wrapped around the door handle.
"Julie Lancaster? Is that you?"
She paused, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up on end. She did know that voice. A voice from her past. A voice she hadn't really thought of in years. Punching the off button on the phone, she slowly turned around.
Yep, it was him. Tyler Nichols in the flesh--well, showing plenty of flesh that was for sure. He wore boxer briefs. And nothing else. Her gaze wandered over his form--slyly of course, she didn't want him to know she was checking him out--and she had to admit he looked pretty damn good. He'd always been tall, but the last time she'd seen him he'd been skinny as a beanpole. And shy. A little on the nerdy side. He loved being outdoors. She remembered he'd always taken off on hikes in the mountains or around the lake.
"Uh, Tyler?" She gave him a little wave. "Hi. Um, what are you doing here?"
"I come here pretty much every other weekend during the summer. My parents moved across the country and told me I could go ahead and use the cabin as much as I want." He squinted at her, as if he couldn't quite make out her features, and she recalled he used to wear glasses. She wondered if he still did. "What are you doing here?"
"My mom suggested I come here and unwind for the weekend. She said the cabin would be empty." Both of their parents owned the cabin, along with one other couple they were friends with. The three families had gone in on it together and purchased the cabin years ago, when Julie had been a freshman in high school. She'd spent many a weekend with Tyler Nichols growing up.
But she hadn't seen him since before she graduated high school. And she certainly hadn't expected him to grow up so well...