She had finished washing the few dishes she'd used for supper when there was a knock on the door. Terrie's eyes immediately went to the clock radio sitting on the table. It was a little past seven. Who on earth could be?
Madge. Maybe it was Madge.
Point Maddin had very little if any crime. Mostly petty thefts, graffiti spray painted on fences, and a few slashed tires. But after living in Tulsa as long as she had, Terrie had qualms about leaving her home unlocked, or opening her door without knowing first who was on the other side.
"Who is it?"
"Uhh, Paul Leeds. Are you the lady who played with Molly on the beach today?"
Well, what do you know! The girl did name the knight after her daddy!
"Hold on!" she quickly unlocked the door. She opened it, and literally gasped to see the man standing on the other side.
In the porch light she could see he was tall and broad-shouldered. Dark reddish-brown hair, maybe chestnut. And the most gorgeous blue eyes she'd ever seen on a human being. Vaguely, she wondered if he wore colored contacts.
"Uhh. Yeah. What's wrong? Is something the matter?"
"Oh, no! Nothing's wrong. In fact, Connie told me about you taking the time to play with her. No, uhh..." He held out the net beach bag Terrie had left behind. "Molly said this was yours."
"Thank you." It was difficult to breathe. It was like his presence was sucking all the oxygen out of the place. She reached out to take the bag, and her whole body trembled.
Good Lord, what's wrong with me?
"I also wanted to thank you ... Terrie, right?" He smiled, and Terrie swore she could feel herself beginning to puddle all over the plank flooring.
Why don't you ask him inside? a little voice whispered inside her head.
Are you nuts? He's a married man!
"Yes. I'm sorry. Terrie Myers." She held out her hand. The moment she did, she knew she was done for.
Sure enough, when his warm fingers closed over hers, Terrie had to clutch the door just to keep herself on her feet. She was amazed she still was able to speak coherently.
"Terrie. Well, thank you for being such a good neighbor."
"Yeah. Connie told me you were from Tempe." A little giggle escaped her. "Quite a contrast between here and there."
He laughed softly. So softly she wished she could press her cheek to his chest and listen to it echo. "I don't think you could get much more of a contrast than between those two places. Are you a permanent resident here, Miss Myers?"
For a moment there Terrie got the distinct impression that the man wanted to be asked in. But that wouldn't be kosher.
"Umm, pretty much so. Now. My family's owned this place for several decades. I've just recently moved back myself ... on a permanent basis." She managed a smile and hoped he wouldn't notice how nervous she was.
Or maybe he did. At least he realized she wasn't going to invite him inside.
"Well, I need to be getting back to the house. Thank you again, Miss Myers. Next time you come by, you're welcome to join us for hot chocolate. Or some spiced cider, being the season and all."
"Thank you. That sounds nice."
He made a half-hearted gesture, like a wave, and left the porch. Terrie stepped outside where she saw him get into a small sports car before driving away. Going back inside her bungalow, she wondered how the Leeds managed to find their way to Point Maddin, population two hundred and fifty-eight, when most of the out-of-towners were down during the summer months.
More than that, Terrie wondered how she was going to keep from dreaming tonight about the good-looking Mr. Paul Leeds without feeling any sort of guilt.