Matters Of The Heart
Faith Russell stared at her prized strawberry shortcake. It decorated a man’s blue shirt. “I’m sorry,” the freight truck of a man said, “Wasn’t watching where I was going.” A chunk of cake slid down his shirt and landed with a soggy plop on his brown leather loafers. “I’m Matt Allan.”
She clung to the empty cake plate, craned her neck, and locked into a pair of doe-brown eyes. “Faith Russell. Ours is a bit of a sticky meeting. Here’s a towel.”
“Thanks.” Matt knocked cake into the towel. “Nan Gray warned me about the strawberry-farmer woman, but she didn’t tell me you baked shortcake.” He licked a finger and smiled. “Delicious.”
“Homemade.” Faith wished she wasn’t as nervous as he appeared calm. “Thanks.”
“I’m sorry. Nearly ran you down.” Matt’s eyes sparkled like sunlight on water and flooded hers. Faith felt spellbound. She’d vowed there’d be no man in her life, but her resolve began melting as soon as he looked at her.
She averted her gaze. “Talk about a house warming, but it’s good to be home.”
“Welcome back. Apologize for hogging your cake. Barreled right through the door bigger than a bulldozer tearing down pines. No excuse other than the fact I’m hungry. Being a bachelor, I’ve learned to fend for myself.” A grin teased the corners of Matt’s mouth.
She gazed deep into his eyes, enchanted. Her heart yearned to take flight, but she grounded it.
“Hope I haven’t ruined that pretty dress. Nan didn’t warn me about strawberry shortcake as ammunition.” Matt sauntered away.
Faith smiled at Nan, her best friend. “Mom always said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach, but I don’t think my cake collision with Matt was what she had in mind.”
“She’d roll on the floor, laughing. I think you’ll fall head over heels for him.” Nan’s eyes danced with glee.
“You’re wrong.” Faith’s voice cracked. “I’ve decided since my last heartbreak, I don’t need a man.”
Nan sighed. “When you find the right man, love can be a comfortable blessing.”
Faith hung her head. “That’s like looking for hidden treasure in a carrier of strawberry culls. I promised myself I’d never let a man rip my world apart again.”
“Don’t you get lonely? You should see the stubborn set of your chin.” Nan grinned.
Faith gazed heavenward. “I keep busy. It’s better than strawberry shortcake dumped on me by a bulldozer of a man.”
Nan smirked. “You’ve got to admit you’re attracted. I saw you staring into his eyes like you couldn’t get enough.”
“Mom says the eyes are the windows to the soul. There’s something about Matt’s. It’s like his are magnets, but I’ll resist the pull.” Faith climbed porch steps that creaked and groaned.
Nan plucked a heel from a crack. “You need new ones.”
“The back’s worse.” Faith looked down at the gray-worn porch. “I’ll remodel.”
“You’ll enjoy the great view next door.” Nan giggled.
Faith frowned. “If I noticed anything about Matt, it’d be his eyes. Ours met today, and I had the eerie feeling he could see straight through to my soul, but he’s just another handsome man.”
Nan dipped her head toward Matt. “Talk about natural beauty.”
Faith laughed. “Pa-lease. I’ve seen enough of his bulldozing clumsiness.” She plopped into the swing and patted the seat beside her.
Nan grimaced. “Will this rickety swing hold us?”
“Needs a coat of paint, but it’d take a hurricane to blow it down.” Faith leaned forward.
Nan snickered. “He’s interested. Here he comes.”
“Hi ladies. Welcome new neighbor. If you need help, I’m pretty handy.” Matt’s eyes twinkled. He stood with one foot propped upon the porch until he climbed the steps. A splintering of wood gave little warning as it protested his weight. His leg went through the top step. He grabbed the porch column for support and found himself stuck in the wood.
Faith’s heart pounded. “Matt, are you hurt? I’m sorry.”
Matt pressed both sides of the step and pulled his leg free. He looked at the hole. “Looks like I’ve found what I need to fix.” He rubbed his shin bone.
“I could use new steps. I fell through the back ones.”
Matt chuckled. “Did you have to pull yourself out?”
“Yes, but I managed.”
“What a sight! Wish I could’ve seen you.” Matt laughed. “Imagine what you looked like stuck in a step.”
“Glad it entertains you.” Faith’s face burned.
“Don’t go falling through anymore holes until I get a chance to repair them. You might not be so lucky and get yourself out of the next one. I’ll get my tools.”
Faith watched Matt strut down her drive. Perhaps he is hidden treasure.
B. J. Robinson is the author of four novels and a number of short stories, including one she won first prize for in college and developed into her novel Southern Superstitions. This short story is a teaser for her novel Last Resort, a romantic suspense. Visit her at http://barbarajrobinson.blogspot.com and check out Last Resort at http://www.amazon.com/Last-Resort-ebook/dp/B005CQ7JQK. She lives in Florida with her husband and pets.