TWO HEARTS REVEALED
“You’re not going out with him.”
Momentarily, Dawn hesitated. But seemingly indifferent to Brian’s presence, she squared off her shoulders and continued her stroll along the beach at Dragonfly Pointe.
When she continued to ignore him, Brian scrambled to catch up with her, his bare feet kicking up sand. “You heard me.”
“Excuse me?” Scowling, Dawn spun around, glaring at the only man who’d ever broken her heart. Now, after three long lonely months without a single word, he actually had the nerve to try to stop her from moving on?
A jeweler and artist, Dawn Wellman had been introduced to Brian Johnson, the previous year, while designing engagement and wedding rings for mutual friends, Jake and Danielle Loughlin. Currently, Dawn managed the artisan’s gift shop for the Dragonfly Pointe Inn.
Reaching out with both hands, Brian clutched Dawn by her shoulders. Lovely with her heart-shaped face and raven-black curls, her beautiful eyes turned fiery blue as she rose up her chin to him with defiance. When she purposely glowered at him, he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to shake her . . . or to kiss her. “You wouldn’t believe what I’ve heard about Justin. The guy’s a total sleaze when it comes to women.”
Incredulous, she gaped.
Brian’s cheeks turned ruddy as he muttered, “I know, I know. Who am I to talk?”
Most obviously agreeing with his statement, Dawn snorted. Why did he have to be so damned good looking? With his perfectly shaped nose and high cheekbones, Brian’s face was classically handsome. Unfortunately, with an equally impressive body that was lean, long, and muscular, he’d always drawn women like a magnet.
“Just because you won’t have anything to do with me doesn’t mean I can’t worry about who you take up with.”
Recognizing the significance of his words, Dawn stilled. “What do you mean? Once I woke up that morning, you were gone.”
Brian had pursued her since the moment they’d met. With his reputation, Dawn had just assumed there was no way he was serious about her. And then she’d done something totally stupid—she’d fallen head-over-heels in love with him. Three months before, here at the inn, he’d caught her in a weakened moment at Jake and Danielle Loughlin’s wedding reception. And when he’d kissed her, she’d been unable to resist him any longer. Making love with Brian had been truly . . . incredible.
“When I finally came back to your room, damn it, you were gone,” he growled. “And I had Ralph to take care of. Remember?” Brian had offered to care for the newlywed’s Black Lab while they were away on their honeymoon. “I thought that we’d go out for breakfast—or something—but they told me in the gift shop you were headed back home to Eau Claire.”
“But . . . I thought . . .” Attempting to delve into the mysterious depths of his blue-gray eyes, her eyes travelled over his face. As usual, his eyes remained shuttered. But maybe now she understood why.
Brian was aware he was devouring Dawn with his eyes. He just couldn’t seem to help himself. Although Dawn was nearly as tall as him, it hadn’t been her shapely long legs and statuesque figure that’d drawn his attention the first time they’d met. Immediately, he’d been mesmerized by her beautiful sapphire-blue eyes.
Noticing Brian appeared to be much thinner as well as strangely unkempt, worriedly, Dawn frowned. Was he feeling alright? Suddenly itching for a touch of his shaggy, ash-blonde hair, she finally reached out, unable to resist. How many times had she run her fingers through the softness of that hair during the amazing night they’d spent together? Attempting to divert her wayward thoughts, she gave him a rueful smile. “You really do need a haircut.”
Immediately noticing Dawn’s wistful smile, taken aback, Brian nervously raked a hand through his hair. “I’ve been too busy,” he muttered.
Graduating with his degree in architecture, Brian had begun his career in New York. Unknown and inexperienced, he’d been largely unsuccessful immediately after graduating. Since partnering with Danielle Loughlin in her landscape business, he’d discovered he had a talent for landscape architecture. Their business had prospered and grown. But, unexpectedly, Brian had again been offered the opportunity to demonstrate his architectural skills while visiting Dragonfly Pointe. Now, his designs for remodeling summer homes in the thriving resort town of Crystal Rock were highly in demand.
“Listen. I think we really need to talk,” Dawn murmured.
Closing his eyes, Brian sighed with relief. “You mean you’re finally gonna quit avoiding me?”
Dawn didn’t even pretend not to understand. Tears suddenly shimmered in her eyes.
“God, how I’ve missed you,” Brian muttered, pulling her into his arms. And it wasn’t just this that he’d missed. It was everything about her. They’d been really close friends before they’d slept together. Her input into his designs had been invaluable—she’d never hesitated to criticize. He’d even missed her dry wit and set downs—usually provoked by his obsessive flirting.
They’d always complimented each other perfectly, Dawn realized now. But she’d been scared to care too much. If they had become romantically involved, she’d never have been able to handle his cheating.
Anxiously pulling back, she searched his eyes. Now openly exposed, Brian appeared uncertain. And it was that vulnerability that decided her. Wrapping her arms over his shoulders, she covered his lips with hers.
His mouth kissed hers with a fierceness that stole her breath. The realization that he wanted her, with the same intense desperation that she wanted him, swept away her last remaining remnants of doubt. “Oh, Brian,” she whispered, breathlessly, when they finally surfaced for air. “I’ve missed you, too.”
Finally, unsteadily, he pulled away, reaching for her hand. “C’mon.”
Slowly, they trudged through the sand. Without even one single cloud in the sky, the sun beat down brightly on a beautiful September day that was unusually warm and balmy. Lightly scented with pine, the soft, gentle breeze sent the cool, clear water of the lake lapping rhythmically over the sand.
Unhurriedly, they approached the edge of the beach. Gently squeezing her hand, Brian asked quietly, “Have you ever heard the legend of Dragonfly Pointe?”
Thoughtfully, Dawn considered the question before turning her gaze back to Brian’s. “No. I don’t think so.”
“The Indians claim there’s magic here. Once two lovers reveal their hearts at Dragonfly Pointe, supposedly, their love will last forever.”
Dawn blinked. Love?
Brian hesitated. Unsure about how much to reveal, he decided just to go for it. “Dawn. I haven’t even been with another woman since I met you.”
Dawn’s jaw dropped.
He couldn’t resist chuckling. “God, what you must think of me. You realize that every time you’ve destroyed me with sarcasm, it’s had something to do with my track record with other women?”
“But . . . but . . .”
Brian’s mouth twisted into a bittersweet smile. “But, what?”
“Why did you let me believe the worst of you?”
Turning away, finally, hesitantly, he confessed, “Because I was that guy before I met you—I guess I was scared about the way I felt about you.” When his eyes met hers, he added, “And I guess I didn’t know enough about love to recognize it right away.”
Squeezing his hand with reassurance, she gazed into his eyes, suddenly filled with anguish. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve probably wondered why I’ve never spent much time with my family?”
“I was the result of an affair that my mother had when she and my dad were having problems.”
“Oh, Brian,” she whispered, softly. “I’m so sorry.”
“It is what it is. My parents let it slip when they were arguing, once, when I was home from college. It explained why I could never do anything right as far as my father was concerned, though.”
“So you came to be that charming and easygoing guy on the outside, trying to pretend you didn’t care?”
Sighing resignedly, he nodded.
“I love you, Brian,” she whispered. Wrapping her arm around his waist, she laid her head on his shoulder. “I’m sorry it took me so long to really see you.”
Brian shuddered, realizing how much he’d desperately needed her understanding. “I hope you’re not gonna argue about marrying me, Dawn. I’ve been miserable without you.”
She chuckled, blinking back her tears. “Same, here. I’ve been spoiling for a good fight, though.”
Pulling her closer, Brian grinned, settling his hands at her waist. “Anytime you want. But let’s just wait until after we’re married.” Abruptly pulling away, gazing intently into her eyes, he frowned. “You are gonna cancel your date with that musician, aren’t you?”
“Who told you that I was going out with Justin in the first place?”
“He did,” Brian growled
“Well. He was lying.” Dawn grinned, smugly. “I never even said yes.”
Snorting his amusement, Brian yanked her back into his arms. “You could’ve just told me that to begin with,” he muttered.
“Yeah,” she admitted, agreeably. “But that might not of led to a proposal,” she added, dryly.
As she shivered with anticipation, Dawn’s lips parted invitingly when, in response to her teasing, Brian kissed her long and hard and deep.
After finally breaking away from their kiss, Brian’s glittering gray eyes met Dawn’s, luminously blue. “Forever?”
With a misty smile, Dawn nodded. “Forever.”
Copyright ©2014 by Tamara Ferguson