Thank you so much for spending time with me this weekend to help celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is my last celebration post and is from Designed to Death, the second book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series.
Blurb: Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud of glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral.
As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell–or worse, a funeral.
Steve’s lips turned up slightly. “I know this isn’t my business, but my advice is don’t trust Darlene again.”
I let out an unladylike snort. “There’s a warning I don’t need.”
“I’m thinking I should check your place tonight. I don’t like knowing Karen had the photographer following you around.”
This was one of my concerns of ‘officially’ dating Steve. He’d think it was his duty to protect me and look after me. I didn’t need looking after, or being told what was in my best interest. “She had him watching the store. Not me. I’ll be fine.”
Steve fought a frown.
I knew he meant well. And, I did like the fact he was annoyed with Karen. “It’s nice knowing I have someone I can count on. I kind of feel like I’m using you and I hate it.”
Steve faced me. “You can count on me. I’m here for you.”
Steve cupped my cheek. “That means a lot to me. I wish though you could trust me. I want the wall down between us.”
“There’s no wall.” I inched back, hating breaking the contact but also terrified of it. Butterflies had taken flight in my stomach and a heated feeling raced through me. Relying was enough at this point. I fooled myself for over a year, believing my only interest in Steve was in admiring him. One unexpected and soul-shattering kiss from Steve during my last “investigation” had me reconsidering my stance on no romantic entanglements ever. I still found myself wavering between forever single or trying again. Every guy wasn’t Adam.
“Don’t lie to me. Or yourself. You don’t mind talking as long as the conversation doesn’t steer toward defining what we are to each other.”
“You’re important to me. We’re friends.”
“I want more than just being your friend.”
I knew that. So did practically everyone else. I wanted more but then I didn’t. “You don’t want to be friends?” I gave him an innocent smile.
“I’d like more than friends.” Steve settled back into the driver’s seat. “If friends are all we’re meant to be, let me know. I’ll respect your decision.”
Why did I have to make a decision right now? I liked being friends and the flirting. Liked the will-we-or-won’t-we become an actual item aspect of our relationship. How long would Steve keep waiting for me to make some kind of declaration? Did he want the type of relationship I was satisfied with? What about Steve? Ted? Were all my confusing signals fair to him? Them?
Karen was making her intentions quite clear. So was Steve. He wanted a real relationship. Get married someday. Have children. Steve was a great guy. Successful. Nice. Considerate. Honorable. Hot. I couldn’t blame Karen. I’m surprised there weren’t a few more women trying to win his heart.
He deserved more than my insecurities. Heck, I deserved more than my insecurities and allowing Adam control of my life. People made decisions all the time and changed their minds. I married Adam, realized the huge error of that choice, and got it annulled. If I could alter that, I could decide to edit my rule about no more romantic relationships ever. Life should be more than living from guilt. Everyone made mistakes and deserved forgiveness. Including from myself to myself.
I undid the seatbelt and gave into the impulsive thought zipping through my head. Kneeling on the passenger seat, I leaned over the console separating me from Steve. I placed my hands on his shoulder for balance and kissed him. Good. I wanted him to know I was interested. Very interested in him.
Steve’s hand tangled in my hair, encouraging me. My blood was getting way too heated considering our location, a parked car near Scrap This. I did not want to be caught by Ted, or anyone else, making out in a car behind Home Brewed.
“Thank you.” I whispered the words onto his lips before pulling back. “I should go.”
I needed to tread carefully. Not for my sake, not because I viewed all men as untrustworthy, but I didn’t want to break Steve’s heart. He didn’t deserve it. When I made a commitment to him, I wanted to jump into it with my whole mind, heart, and soul. Not holding anything back.
If you’re interested in reading Faith’s adventure, Cropped to Death is available at:
Mystery Loves Company (print copies)