Concealing the gift under a washcloth in her hand, Daisy turned back to the room, intending to stash the present in her suitcase and preventing any questions of it tonight. When she crossed over the bathroom threshold, her foot caught on something. Daisy tumbled downward with a shriek; the gift flew from her hand.
The washcloth flung away, and she watched in slow motion the flashy, sparkly red bow flip end-over-end through the air until the rest of the room rushed upward and the carpet broke her fall.
Drew dashed to her and helped her sit up. She could see him better if those damned stars weren’t in the way.
“What happened?” she muttered, then looked to see Olé stretched over the doorway, the little Chihuahua’s little face looking guilty, yet a sliver of intent lay hiding in his eye. She realized just how invisible the dog had been all night.
Then the picture of the gift in flight set Daisy to a panic.
“Oh, no, oh, no, oh, no,” she chanted, imagining the gift from the gods fragile and now broken by her hand. She went to her knees and crawled along the floor, seeking the missing gift beneath the dresser, the desk. Olé joined her, sniffing but not knowing any better than she did for what the heck they searched.
She crawled over to one bed and threw up the covers to check beneath it. All she saw was Drew’s face appearing on the other side of the bed. “What are you looking for?”
She threw the covers back into position. “I don’t know,” she admitted, and crawled around to the other bed, checking every corner where the gift could hide. She noticed Drew’s interest, possibly focused on her upturned derriere.
She flipped the other bed spread flaps up and checked beneath to spot the box in shadow. Relieved, she reached under the bed frame and grabbed the box, bringing it with her as she rose, but the relief was short-lived. In her palm, the tiny, elaborately decorated red box lay open and empty. Drew stared expectantly at the inch-sized cube. She found nothing on the floor.
Before Daisy could consider what punishment the gods might demand of a lousy messenger, her nose detected a scent she knew well from the wild roses woven into the farm’s front gate. Roses meant home to Daisy.
Drew’s brow crashed. “Do you smell flowers?”
He leaned toward her and sniffed so close she felt the tug of breeze into his nose. “It’s you. You smell like flowers. Must be your shower soap.”
But she used the soap she made on the farm, oatmeal and otherwise unscented.
Daisy became super-aware of Drew’s close proximity. He just stood there beside her, wearing nothing but a hotel bed-sheet toga, the corners tied at one shoulder and draping the long line of his physique. Her eyes rode the open side of the toga, down his rib cage past his hips, where hard thighs and scattered hair took over. She was struck with the strongest urge to touch him, to slip her hands to his chest and run her fingers through the hair there. To caress his city-pale flesh, knead his weight-sculpted biceps, stroke the sides of his lean torso. The feeling was so strong, she broke into a sweat. Her palms itched.
Drew stepped back and began to hyperventilate. He paled, dropped onto the bed, his hand to his chest as if his breath had escaped him. He looked truly panicked.
“What is it, Drew?” Daisy asked, fearing the moment. She tossed the empty red box aside and took his hand to feel it clammy.
Was this The End?
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