Coffee, Tea or Molly?

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Chapter One

“Oops!”

Drew Dawson felt the heated splash of tea land on his gray T-shirt at just about the same time he experienced an unexpected rush of pleasure, eyeing the pretty strawberry-blond female who had sloshed it there.

“I’m so sorry…”  Her freckled nose crinkled apologetically, causing her sunglasses to slide.  Greenish eyes stared at him, appearing genuinely contrite.

Caught off guard by the flash of green, he barely noticed the stream of harried travelers pushing to make their way around them.  She had been shuffling in through the airport terminal door at precisely the same moment he had been exiting it.  Now the two of them were clogging the middle of the threshold, frozen there by the spill.

“And it’s Internationale’s Green-Black blend too,” she added, glaring at the styrofoam cup as if it were filled with criminal intent instead of an eye-opening brew.  “It will leave a terrible stain!”

She began searching through her oversized straw purse, he assumed for a tissue of sorts.  Meanwhile, he found himself doing a bit of searching of his own, perusing her face, taking in the scent of her hair.  So natural so…familiar.

Had he met her before?  But where?  When?  True, he’d been to Somersby, Ohio, before, but only for a quick visit in January for his brother Blake’s marriage to Samantha Stevenson.  This was only his second time here, and his plane had just landed.  He hadn’t even gotten out of the airport terminal yet where his brother would be waiting for him at the curb.

He was quite certain he’d never laid eyes on this striking woman before.  Still, her face had a familiar girl-next-door look – all grown up, of course.  It seemed he’d known her forever…

“Truly, it’s not a problem,” he said when she came up empty handed.  “It’s just an old rag.”  He tugged at the shirt.  “Got a dozen like it.  And,” he bent his head to peer at the stained area on his chest, “at least it’s the International Green-Black blend.  Has a rather distinct, robust sound to it.  Not some sissy tea at all, thankfully.”

He gave her the Dawson trademark grin, one side of his mouth curling up teasingly.

The sunny-looking lady laughed.  “You’re British?” she asked, acknowledging his accent.  “You came all the way from England, and I’ve spilled my drink on you first thing off the plane?”

As the words tumbled out of her mouth, a blustery, crimson-cheeked businessman blew past them, his oversized bulky suitcase nearly knocking the tea-drinking beauty over.  Swiftly, Drew caught her elbow and steadied her.  Then, his hand on her arm, he led her to the side of the entrance out of harm’s way.

His composure regained, he shook his head and answered her question.  “Actually, I just flew in from Boston.  So don’t fret, I won’t go complaining to the British embassy about you or anything.”

Again, he gave her the Dawson smile, attempting to charm her for some inexplicable reason.

It worked.  Her creamy cheeks flushed pink and she stammered slightly, “It’s not me exactly.  It’s – it’s these silly sandals.”  She glanced at her feet.  “I keep tripping in them.”

Glancing down her jean skirt, it took his eyes a moment to get past her lightly tan but noticeably shapely legs…past her soft-looking feet with coral-polished toes…before settling on her shoes.  Sandals that made a young woman’s calves look great, but weren’t so easy to walk in with their in-between-the-toe straps and high-wedged cork soles.

“Ah, yes.  I know them well.”

“You do?” She quirked a curious eyebrow at him.

Unfortunately for him, he did.  But only because in a matter of weeks his father Edward, owner of an upscale shoe boutique in Boston, was retiring from the family business.  The store had been inexistence since the four Dawson brothers were toddlers.  Soon Drew would have the heady responsibility of taking over the shop.

Not that it was Drew’s idea.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, his father began introducing the concept to him well over a year ago.  Drew had been skiing with his buddies at Whistler in British Columbia when his father’s first phone call came.  Talk about a downhill slide…