Smokin'(5)

By: Shirley Penick


That slow, sexy smile slid across his face again. Amber was glad she was sitting, otherwise she may have fallen from having jelly knees. “That would be just fine, Amber. This is all on your time table, so don’t worry.”

She sat there blinking at him for a moment, trying to get her thoughts back in order. “Well, I appreciate you taking time to work on this for me. I’m sure you have deadlines and stuff.”

“Nothing pressing right now. And, I am always happy to help out a pretty lady.”

Pretty? Me? Okaaay… Was he serious or just being a flirt? She had no idea. And what did it mean if he was serious? She had even less of an idea about that.

He gathered his things into his backpack and stood. “I’ll get out of your hair now. When I get the first draft done, I’ll be in to show you.”

“I’ll see you in a couple of days.” She stood and held out her hand. “Thanks.”

He took her small hand into his large, warm one, and she felt tingles start from her palm and spark through her whole body.

He looked at their joined hands and then back up at her with a strange look on his face before he slowly let go of her hand, reached down, and collected his backpack. “See ya.” And then he was gone before she could even think enough to say goodbye.

When he was out the door she shook her head to get the blood flowing to her brain. Wow, Jeremy packs a punch. Too bad she wasn’t looking for a guy. She had too many secrets to get close to a man.





JEREMY WALKED OUT of the restaurant in a bit of a daze. What had just happened? One minute he was talking like a competent, intelligent adult, he’d taken her outstretched hand, and all his brain cells melted into a pile of lust. Lightning shot through him with that simple touch. She had soft skin, but also calluses—probably from waiting tables and working in the kitchen.

He’d shaken many women’s hands and had never felt anything like he did holding Amber’s. He wanted to pull her in, and do much more than shake hands. What was that anyway? Some kind of magnetic pull? He had no idea, but he needed to put it out of his mind. He was not interested in any magnetic pull or lust—if that’s what it was. He was too damn busy for a woman. There was no way he was going to let anyone into his life to see the real him. He needed to get started on her kids’ menu. Art always kept his mind clear and his emotions out.

Jeremy decided maybe he should use the amusement park and town for his Where’s Tsilly? picture. That would be fun. He would stop by the city building to see if they had a map of the whole town he could use to get started. He could make some of the businesses stand out—like Amber’s restaurant. Maybe the art gallery and the library. The landing dock, Tsilly’s rock and the park where the Tsilly climbing structure was would be good. He had so many ideas.

He hoped he could figure out which locations would merit being featured over the others. He parked in front of the City courthouse building and jogged up the stairs. He wasn’t quite sure where to start. So, he decided to go to the top, Mayor Carol. She knew everything.

Walking into the reception area, he saw her assistant take a big drink of what looked like lemonade. She swallowed and smiled at him. “Hi, Jeremy, what brings you to our humble office?”

“I was wondering if I could see Mayor Carol for a sec. If she’s not busy.”

“I don’t think she’s busy. Let me buzz her and ask.”

He looked around the reception area while he waited. There were plants in corners and some magazines on the table by the waiting area, and he was surprised to see his books on another table just the right size for kids to sit at. He didn’t know the mayor had a children’s waiting area. Interesting.

“Jeremy, the mayor would be happy to see you. Go on in.”

“Thanks, Jennifer.” He opened the door to Mayor Carol’s office and poked his head in.

“Come in, Jeremy. Sit down. Can I get you something to drink?”

He shook his head and sat in the chair in front of her desk. The room had a homey feel to it. “No, I’m fine. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, since I dropped by unannounced. I just have a quick question.”

Her blue eyes twinkled, and she pushed a strand of her blond hair behind one ear. “You’re no trouble, Jeremy. If I’m not busy with someone I have to do paperwork or email. I would much rather be interrupted.”

He chuckled. “Where could I get a map of the town? I’m sure there is one somewhere, but I don’t know where to start looking.”

“What do you need it for?”

Jeremy squirmed under her direct gaze—those blue eyes could be piercing. “I’m going to draw up a children’s menu for Amber and one of the games is going to be a Where’s Waldo? type picture only it will be Where’s Tsilly?. I thought using the town, along with the amusement park, would be a good place to hide Tsilly characters. I just don’t want to put the streets or businesses in the wrong place.”