The Good Luck Charm Page 10

He tilts his head, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, possibly at my resistance. Eventually I relinquish the bin; otherwise, I’m going to make an awkward situation even more uncomfortable.

Ethan is mostly naked. I’m trying not to gawk, but dear lord he looks amazing, so I’m not above ogling. Seeing him like this, fresh from the lake, hair dripping, water beading across his chest, reminds me of a time when life was so much simpler. Back when the most complex decision was whether we studied first and made out after, or vice versa. More often than not, making out took first priority. Otherwise Ethan found it hard to keep his hands to himself and the studying suffered.

Except he’s a man now, with an incredible career and a body to match, and I’m an almost-divorcée who abandoned my dream of becoming a doctor. Instead, I settled for the man who I thought could fill the hole the one in front of me created.

“Everything okay?” Ethan ducks his chin a little, bringing his face closer to mine.

“Huh?” I shake my head, realizing I’ve been staring at his chest. Again. “Oh yeah, fine. Jeannie asked me to pick a few things up for her.” As if that wasn’t obvious based on the bin he’s holding.

“She could’ve asked me so you didn’t have to go out of your way.”

I shrug and keep my eyes on the contents of the bin. “I was already at the store, so it wasn’t a big deal; besides, I wanted to check in anyway. Jeannie mentioned you have to head back to Chicago.”

“Yeah, for a couple of days. I have to get my house on the market and tie up a few loose ends.” I hold the door for Ethan, glancing at his ass as he steps onto the welcome mat. He’s wearing boxers, not swim shorts, which is odd, but I’m not opposed to their see-through quality or the way they cling nicely to his sculpted glutes.

I follow him inside and startle at Jeannie’s suddenly stern reprimand. “Ethan! Are you wet? Do not trek through the house like that!”

Ethan takes an automatic step back. I mirror his movement, but the door’s already closed, so I have nowhere to go. I raise my hands in an attempt to prevent being pinned against the door. My palms connect with wet, cool skin. The sensation is reminiscent of licking a nine-volt battery on a whole-body frequency. Heat hits me, pushing through my skin, electrifying me. Ethan goes still and stiff.

“Is that Delilah behind you? You’re crushing her! Let her past!” Jeannie barks.

Ethan steps to the side but stays on the mat so as not to drip all over the floor and risk being yelled at again. I slip around him, fingertips dragging across his skin as it pebbles, and a small shiver causes the muscles under my fingers to quiver.

“Sorry,” I mumble and attempt to take the bin, fingers wrapped around the edge next to his.

“I got it,” he says quickly. “It’s heavy.”

“I can handle it.”

“No really, it’s fine.” His eyes are wide. They dart down and back up a couple of times, so I follow them, not understanding why he won’t let me take the bin. And then he lowers it enough so that I can see exactly what the issue is. And what an issue it is. Ethan has a hard-on tenting his wet, nearly transparent boxers, and all that damp fabric is clinging to the contours, giving me a very clear view of said issue.

I pry my eyes away—it’s a lot more challenging than I want it to be—and motion to what he’s hiding behind the bin. “What the hell is that about?” I hiss lowly.

His cheeks flush a little, but he’s still smirking, probably because my face is on fire. “You were just touching me, and your boobs were against my back,” he whispers.

He’s not looking me in the eye—instead his gaze is trained on the part of my body he’s just referenced. The cotton is wet from his back, drawing more attention there. I’m halfway to cupping them for protective measure, considering how my nipples are responding to his stare, when he raises his voice and asks, “Would you be able to grab me a towel, please?”

“Right, yes! Of course!” I’d do just about anything to get some space. I take the stairs two at a time and disappear down the hallway. The image of Ethan’s erection pushing against the wet fabric seems to have seared itself into the backs of my lids. I don’t remember him being that ample, but then it’s been almost a decade since I’ve seen Ethan’s hard-on, bare or covered with fabric. I shake my head as if it will erase the image like an Etch A Sketch. It doesn’t help at all. All of my sensitive places are begging for some kind of friction.

I take a few more deep breaths, grab a towel from the linen closet in the bathroom—it’s pink with a rose print—and head back downstairs, taking my time on the descent.

Ethan’s standing where I left him, still holding the grocery bin. I drop the towel on top and grab the handles along the side with what I hope is a placid, collected smile.

Ethan tips his chin, that infuriating smile I know so well making the dimple under his right eye pop as he relinquishes his shield and takes the towel. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” I step back as he shakes it out at crotch level, then laugh when I realize it’s a hand towel.

He lifts a brow. “Not sure this is going to do the job.”

“You can make it work.” I turn away and cross through to the kitchen, where Jeannie is slicing a loaf of fresh bread, very glad my own physical response to Ethan can remain hidden. Her eyes are rimmed with dark shadows, betraying too little sleep and too much stress, but her smile is real.

“Thank you for picking those things up. You always know just what I need. I’m so scattered these days.” I accept her embrace, absorbing the affection she gives so willingly. “Do not even think about traipsing through the house in that dripping suit!” Jeannie calls over my shoulder.

“I wouldn’t dream of it, Mom,” Ethan replies.

Jeannie releases me on a gasp. “Ethan Martin Kase!”

“I’ll hang it up once I’m changed!”

He appears in my peripheral vision; that tiny floral printed hand towel covers just the part that matters. He’s left the wet boxers on the mat by the door, so I catch a glimpse of his bare ass as he disappears down the stairs to the basement.

“That boy,” Jeannie says, but there’s a smile fighting for play on her lips.

“He probably would’ve done well in a nudist colony if the whole career in hockey hadn’t worked out.”

“I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“Nothing I haven’t seen before.” Although it wasn’t quite so defined back then.

Jeannie barks a laugh, and I cringe at how inappropriate that was.

“Anyway—” I turn my attention to the bin of groceries and start unpacking. “I picked up those chocolate and strawberry meal replacements so Martin can get the calories in like we talked about.”

“I appreciate that and I’m sure he will, too,” she murmurs.

“Everything okay?” I ask as she passes me the chopping board and berries so I can hull them and make a smoothie for Martin. He’s picky about smoothies and I seem to be the only one who can do them “the right way.”

“I don’t think he slept that well. He’s having an off morning.”

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