Whisper of Attraction(5)

By: Melanie Shawn

Brynn had a body that rivaled any filtered Instagram model. He’d seen multiple pictures of her. He’d known that she was beautiful. But nothing had prepared him for the mesmerizing jade-green stare that met his when she’d opened the door. Or the full pink lips that had turned up when she’d hit him with a mega-watt smile. And he sure as hell hadn’t been prepared to see her completely naked.

“Lucy! No!” She tugged the material from the pug’s mouth, or at least she tried to.

The dog must’ve thought it was a game because she was pulling it away as she thrashed her head back and forth. Ultimately, Brynn won the battle. When she was finally able to secure the robe in place, she gripped the material holding it closed.

Her knuckles were as white as the terrycloth material she fisted as she gulped and said, “I’m sorry.”

Axel wanted to tell her that she had nothing to be sorry about but he didn’t think that would help the situation. Also, he wasn’t sure he could even form words. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out.

“I’ll be…I’m just…,” she flustered before closing her eyes and inhaling sharply. When her lids reopened, Axel was struck by the emerald depths surrounded by dark lashes.

He could easily fall into a trance from her hypnotizing stare. Captivating wasn’t a word that he’d ever thought or considered using in the thirty years he’d been alive, but it was the word that described Brynn perfectly.

“Come in.” Her tone was curt as she opened the door wider.

He stepped inside and her lips pursed as she raised her hand and instructed, “Wait here.”

Then, in the blink of an eye, she was gone.

Axel watched as she disappeared down the hallway. It took him a full beat before he snapped out of the spell that she’d cast on him.

When he did, he realized he was wasting an opportunity. He quickly assessed the front door. There was a single lock, no deadbolt. He scanned the front room and kitchen. It was small, but cozy. It felt like home.

He blinked, shocked at where his mind had wandered to. What the hell was going on with him? He’d never been driven to distraction on the job. And now, here he was, day one, hour one, minute one, and he’d forgotten where he was, who he was, and what he was supposed to be doing.

He cursed beneath his breath as he did a cursory sweep of the space. In the front room there were three points of entry. Two windows and the front door. He was still trying to focus when his phone vibrated in his pocket.

Very few people had his phone number and of that group, even fewer had ever used it. Axel was a loner. He always had been. He wasn’t sure if that was due to his unconventional childhood or if he would’ve turned out this way even if he’d grown up in an idyllic home. Whatever the reason, his circle of friends and family was a small one.

He pulled out his phone and saw “PITA” displayed on the screen. His little sister Izzy had saved her contact under the acronym he lovingly called her that stood for Pain In The Ass.

“Hey, Iz, I’m kind of bu—”

“I hate it here!” his sister interrupted dramatically.

“You haven’t even been there for two days.”

Axel had dropped his little sister off at the best prep school in the state a little over twenty-four hours ago. She was gifted. Not in that, oh she’s really smart, kind of way. Izzy’s IQ was somewhere in the 160 range.

From the moment she was born, Axel had known that she was special. He was sixteen and he specifically remembered looking through the nursery window and staring down at the newborns all swaddled in blankets, lying in their bassinets. Several were sleeping, one was crying, and one was alert, aware. She seemed to be taking in her surroundings.

That baby was Izzy.

She started speaking at eight months old. She was putting full sentences together before she was one year old. Her preschool teacher had suggested that she enter kindergarten a year early, but his mom hadn’t wanted her to be “weird.” In first grade, when they’d lived in California, Izzy was tested for G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education). She’d been in that program through fifth grade and had excelled in it. Then, three years ago, their mother up and moved from San Diego to Chicago to marry a man that she’d only ever met online. She’d drug Izzy along with her.

Axel had followed. For the past three years, he’d lived in a suburb of Chicago. Close enough that if his sister needed him, he was there, but far enough that he didn’t have to see his mother every day.

Everything changed last month though. His mother announced that she and husband number eight were divorcing and she was planning on moving to Brazil to be with a man that she’d met, wait for it, online.