Home > Easy Kisses (Boudreaux #4)(10)

Easy Kisses (Boudreaux #4)(10)
Author: Kristen Proby

“Thank God,” I reply. “I’m going to just go for a walk since we’re no longer climbing up a freaking mountain.”

“Good. Enjoy it. You won’t be able to miss us.” He nods over my shoulder and I turn to find Violet and Todd splashing each other in the water while Heidi looks on, laughing and encouraging them.

“I’m glad I came,” I say, surprising myself. “I like you. All of you.”

“We like you, too,” he says and drags his thumb down my cheek. “Are you feeling better?”

“I am.” It’s the truth, but for some reason, I just need a little alone time. So I smile brightly and back out of his touch. “I won’t be long.”

I walk in the opposite direction as the others and slip my shoes off, stuff the socks in them, and carry them as I let my hot feet soak in the cold water. It feels amazing, and I don’t even have to worry about a critter coming along to take my foot off for lunch.

It’s different here. Relaxing. Quiet.

And it’s made me long for home. Not the noise or the stress from work and responsibilities, but my family. I think they would like it here. Well, Eli would tolerate it. He’s the definition of workaholic, but I remember times when we were kids and we’d splash in the water the way Todd and Violet are now as adults.

I love all of my siblings, but Eli and I always had a special connection. I’m the only one who was ever able to push his extreme serious side away to make him have fun.

Until his wife Kate came along. She’s brought out more than any of us ever could. She made him see that while work is important, there are other things more important. He works a little less, and smiles a whole lot more.

I sit on a rock and tip my head up to the sun. I don’t know what to do about this weird attraction I have to Simon. He’s been professional, for the most part, and hasn’t intimidated me at all, but I know that the attraction is mutual. Last night on the boat was intense.

While he was driving the boat, I was pushed back in time to an early summer day with my daddy, also sitting in a boat, floating through the bayou. I must have been about twelve, and it was just the two of us. My dad made sure to spend quality time with each of us kids.

“I like it out here,” I said with a smile.

“Of course you do, darlin’.” he nodded. “Boatin’s in your blood.”

“I don’t know if I want to help with the business when I grow up,” I replied carefully. “I know you love it, but I don’t know if I will.”

“Well, I think it’s good, then, that in this country you can do anything that you choose.”

“You won’t be mad?”

“Why would I be mad at you for doing something you love, Charlotte? I want all of my children to be happy.”

I felt so loved right then. Cherished, even.

“Maybe I’ll get married and my husband will want to work for the company.”

“Well, that might be so,” he said thoughtfully. “But I don’t want you to be in a hurry to get married, baby girl. You wait for the right man to come along, who makes you feel safe and respected and loves you like crazy.”

“The way you love Mama?”

“That’s right,” he said with a wink. “I knew she was the one for me the minute I saw her. And you’ll know too. So you just wait for that to come along. You won’t regret it.”

And so I’ve been waiting for the better part of thirty years to know the minute I see him, and the one is still eluding me.

“What is happening in that pretty head of yours?” Simon asks, startling me. I glance around and realize that I’ve wandered back to where he and the others are enjoying the water and the view.

“Not much,” I reply.

“I don’t believe you,” he says and shoves his hands in his pockets, just like Eli would. He’s taken his backpack off, and is standing before me in the grey shirt, shorts, bare feet, and a bit of scruff on his cheeks.

And for some reason, I have no problem confiding in this man, which is brand new to me.

“I was thinking about my family,” I reply quietly.

“A bit homesick, are you?”

“A bit,” I agree with a nod. “I’ve been away from home far longer than this before, but this time seems different.”

“You’re self-reflecting while you’re here,” Simon says gently. “Of course you’re thinking about what matters most to you.”

“Why are you so easy to talk to?”

“I like to think it’s my charming wit and handsome features.”

“Hmm.” I narrow my eyes and tip my head back and forth, like I’m thinking very hard. “No. That’s not it.”

Simon bursts out with a loud laugh. “Come on, cheeky woman. Let’s enjoy this view before we head back out of here.”

“Oh God, more hiking.”

“You’re a pro already.”


“Enjoy your time in town,” the shuttle driver says with a kind smile the next day when he drops me off in the center of town.

“Thank you,” I reply, tip him, and climb out of the old van and onto the sidewalk. Town is tiny, with just a three-block downtown area, but I’ve been told that there are fun shops and restaurants, and frankly some time away from the hotel, the woods, and Simon is exactly what I need.

I walk into a gift shop and browse around, deciding to get corny Montana T-shirts for the whole family.

Yesterday was exhausting. I haven’t slept as well as I did last night since I was a baby. Maybe I should hike more often. It might help my insomnia issues.

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