Feeling a thousand times better after a long, hot shower, Nick grabbed a beer from the fridge and moved out on the deck to relax. Curiosity overcame him as he watched the new arrival, a woman, unload her car. He wondered again what brought her to such a quiet coastal resort at this time of year.
Her straight russet hair hung loosely around her face. She looked soft and nicely rounded, a pleasant change from the pencil-thin females he was used to--like Pammy, or like Belinda with her long legs.
This woman was small, about five feet, he estimated, and compact--tantalisingly so. Perhaps that's what caught his eye. Nick smiled, reassured he still appreciated feminine charms, and she was definitely built for comfort, not speed.
Now that was a phrase he hadn't thought of in quite some time.
"Nick, my friend, there's still hope for you yet," he muttered. In between sips of beer, he puzzled why, all of a sudden, he'd begun to think like his former, amorous self.
But there was something else ... the movement of her hips when she walked caused Nick to look more closely as she lugged an armful of linen into the cabin then re-appeared seconds later.
"It can't be," he mumbled distractedly as he rose from his chair on the deck. "It just can't be."
Long forgotten images, which held a special place deep in his heart, teased at his memory. He had to know. Right now.
If he made a fool of himself, well, perhaps the woman would understand and laugh with him when he explained. Or perhaps she'd think he was coming on to her. Whatever, he had to know.
He tossed the empty beer can in the trash and headed down the stairs.
His gaze never left her as he walked slowly down the gravel path. In the crisp afternoon air, the last rays of the sun filtered through the tall eucalypts scattered throughout the park.
He focused on the woman as she moved to the back of her car. Nick smiled. It could be, he mused. It just could be. Though the eighteen-year old woman whose image appeared in his mind hadn't been as shapely as this one, there was something about the way she walked that urged him on. The beat of his heart began to gather speed with each forward step.
The woman was busy shoving bits and pieces from the back of her car into a plastic laundry basket. He stopped a few meters away, rested his forearm against a tree and observed her quietly.
It wasn't until she turned and lifted her head, allowing him a clear view of her face, that he could be absolutely certain he was right about her identity. He nodded and smiled, then moved in for the kill.
"Hello, Tiger," he said, and grinned when her blue eyes flashed at him.
At first she frowned. Her expression changed quickly from startled surprise at the sound of his voice to the shock of recognition.
"How are you, Claire?" He stepped forward, his gaze roamed over her, took in her soft, feminine curves, the determined little chin, the pretty mouth which had always welcomed his kiss...
His heart lurched, more than it had a right to. More than he wanted it to.
Claire dropped the basket. Its contents scattered across the ground. Her hand flew to her mouth.