Lana was determined not to act like a stupid, giddy teenager, during the next class, no matter how much she felt like one. Whenever Aaron came near, time seemed to slow. She was suddenly very aware of everything about him, from the way his breath tickled her arm when he examined her work to the veins in his muscular forearms. Her face was continually flushed, and she felt a stirring in areas of her body she thought she’d been perfectly happy neglecting.
She would have hated him for distracting her this way, but he seemed to be suffering as much as she was. When he showed the girl next to her how to mix a certain color on her palette, his fingers trembled. When he glanced her way during a lecture, he stumbled over his words.
It was too much too soon.
At the end of class, Lana hurried to grab her things so she wouldn’t have to deal with Aaron or her unexpected feelings for him. However, her plan was foiled when, half way down the hall, she realized that she’d forgotten her purse. She turned to go back into the room, hoping he’d already gone home. He hadn’t.
“You left this on my desk,” he informed her, holding the blue bag by its strap.
She took it and looked at him suspiciously. “I didn’t go anywhere near your desk today.”
He grinned, and she realized what he’d done. “Stealing’s a crime, you know. This is the second time you’ve lied to get me up here.”
He ignored her and took the opportunity to step away from the desk and put his arm around her waist, pulling her closer. She could easily have escaped, but it was as if some unseen force drew her towards him, keeping her from running like a part of her desperately wanted to.
“I never got a kiss goodbye yesterday,” he told her softly, his dark eyes suddenly irresistible.
“Look,” Lana began, her face flushed, her feelings disoriented. “I’m not sure—”
“If you’re ready for this?” he cut her off, becoming serious.
“Or do you think I’m not ready for you?”
His expression was a mix of passion and concern as he waited for her answer. Lana was overwhelmed. She couldn’t deny the connection between them, but she was scared. She was hurting. And she couldn’t put all of the emotional baggage her ex-husband had caused her on Aaron.
“I don’t even know if I’m ready for me,” she admitted softly, his insight taking her by surprise, forcing her to be honest instead of resorting to her usual cynicism.
Tears pricked her eyes. She turned her head away to keep him from seeing and to give herself a chance at composure. He let go of her and walked away. She’d blown it. This art class was supposed to keep her mind off of the divorce and the changes that had come with it. Maybe she’d had it all wrong. Maybe she shouldn’t have been trying to stay away from men. What would be a better distraction than an affair with the teacher? The attractive, sensitive, attentive teacher. Why was she worrying about complications that were only probabilities? Why was she letting the pain of her ruined marriage interfere with her present relationship? Possible relationship. Impossible relationship.
Though her face was turned in the opposite direction, she’d heard his footsteps move toward the door, and she’d heard him close it behind him. A tear fell, and she was surprised when a pair of smooth lips brushed her cheek and kissed it away. Immersed in her thoughts, she hadn’t realized he’d only walked away to give them more privacy. She turned to him, startled and grateful. She felt like she’d been given a second chance. He leaned down, and, finally, she gave in.