Author Carrie Ann Ryan returns this week to the Montgomery Ink world with a blind date romance between two unlikely strangers, and I have a little sneak peek for you.
“Luke!” May yelled as she ran full tilt toward us, a broken shoe in one hand.
She saw me holding her charge, and her eyes widened. For a minute, terror filled her gaze before anger took its place. I didn’t think she recognized me. The hand on her shoe tightened, and then she blinked as if it finally clicked who I was.
She calmed instantly, her shoulders dropping slightly. Then she limped toward us, her hair wild and her face smoothed of emotion.
“Luke. You know better than to run off like that.”
I heard my sister get up, my nieces swirling around her like a flock of birds.
“Luke, buddy, did you run away from May?” I asked, just now remembering that May was his nanny. I knew that. There was a reason May was off-limits.
Because she was Leif’s damn nanny. That meant I wasn’t supposed to think dirty thoughts about her beyond a simple daydream I might’ve had once or twice—or four times.
Yet with her standing here, a Valkyrie with a broken shoe and wild eyes, I had to remind myself that she was off-limits.
“I saw you. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Luke curled in on himself, and I held back a curse. I set the kid on the ground because I had a feeling May wanted to hold him, to clutch him close. But she also didn’t want to rip him from my arms and scare the boy more.
“Luke, you know you’re not supposed to run away from me like that. You scared me. We have one rule. And that is to trust each other. And you nearly broke that rule.”
I held back a wince, knowing she was saying the right things. But if I were that kid? I’d be ducking behind someone, feeling like I had broken the faith of the best woman out there.
“I’m sorry. I just saw Leo, and my brain got scr-amb-led.”
He sounded out the word as if he had heard the phrase before but didn’t quite know what it meant.
From the twitch on May’s lips, she agreed with me.
“Okay, Luke. But I’m going to have to tell your mom and Leif that you ran away from me. Because we don’t keep secrets. You’re not in trouble right now because you ran to someone you know. Someone who isn’t a stranger. But let’s not have this happen again, okay?”
“I promise,” Luke said as he held up his pinky. May smiled as she linked her little finger with his. Then they kissed their thumbs, and I smiled at the fact that these two seemed to have a secret handshake.
“Sorry for almost yelling at you,” May said as she looked up at me. “Leo, right?”
I swallowed hard, trying not to look down at her curves. Or the sweat slowly trickling between her breasts. I did not need to notice that. This was Luke’s nanny. She was not for me.
Even though I couldn’t help but want more.
What was wrong with me?
“I’m so sorry for all of this. I knelt to try to fix my shoes since the strap broke, and, well, you know what happened next.”
I looked at the shoe in her hand, then at the one still on her foot, and nodded. “I think I can fix that. At least to get you home…”
May’s eyes widened. “What? You can?”
“Oh, yes. My brother is pretty handy,” Caroline said as she came to my side.
I completely forgot that my family was watching, and now I needed to duck because I was sure my sister would not let this go. Whatever this was.
“Your brother.” May looked between us, then down at the kids, her eyes wide. “Oh. Brother.”
Had May thought this was my family? My kids? I had hit on her at the tattoo shop. What kind of man did she think I was?
“I’m Caroline. These are my daughters.” My sister introduced her kids, who all started talking to Luke at once. Luke giggled.
“Fast friends,” I mumbled.
“Seems like,” May answered.
“Anyway, if you hand over that shoe, I’ll see what I can do.”
As if in a daze, she gave me the shoe. I knelt at her feet, working the paperclip I randomly had in my pocket into the tie of the sandal so she could wrap it around her ankle like the other.
The heat of her skin against my calloused fingers did something to me, and I swallowed hard. Such delicate ankles, such soft skin.
There was seriously something wrong with me. I did not have a foot or ankle fetish. But right here and now? I had to question why I didn’t.
I looked up at her, aware I was kneeling at her feet and putting on her shoe as if she were Cinderella or something.
She stared at me, her mouth parting. I swallowed hard.
She was off-limits. She was not Cinderella.
And I was damn well not Prince Charming.