Scarlett. His Scarlett.
In Saltwater Springs.
The girl that had shattered both his heart and his self-confidence when she’d left him behind to attend college. His stomach clenched, his heart spasmed, and his dick twitched. Three simultaneous reactions that perfectly demonstrated the complicated nature of his feelings toward this woman.
At that moment, she looked up from the construction equipment she was pushing to the side and noticed him standing there. She made eye contact and her eyes flashed with something—recognition to be sure, but there was something else that was there and gone so fast he didn’t have time to identify it.
The past decade had been kind to Scarlett. Her wavy, black hair still shone and hung over her shoulders but wasn’t able to hide her ample chest. Her eyes were the same shade of evergreen. He used to be content to gaze into those emerald eyes for hours as they lay in the back of his pickup truck. She wore a tight-fitting pair of jeans that hugged her curvy hips—hips he was sure he’d still have a hard time keeping his hands off of if he were within arm’s reach of her.
But she’d never really been within his reach, had she? That was exactly why she’d left him without any explanation all those years ago.
Not that he should have been surprised, really. Scarlett was considered Southern royalty in this town, and he…well, back then he was nothing more than the son of a drunk and a waitress.
Figuring he needed to quit standing there looking like an idiot, he willed the semi in his pants to remember what a fool she’d made of him. Luke stepped sideways to stand in front of the door as Scarlett marched over to it, brushing her hands on her firm thighs as she went.
Scarlett chewed on her bottom lip as she unlocked the door, a nervous tic he remembered from her high school days. She whipped the door open, her eyes wide and panicked. “What are you doing here?” she asked, disbelief in her voice.
If he’d subconsciously had any hope that this could be a somewhat pleasant reunion, that had disappeared when the crease settled in between her brows.
“It’s good to see you after all this time, too,” he responded with a clipped tone. Luke brushed past her, and damn if she didn’t smell as mouth-watering as she looked. He wasn’t a gambling man, but he’d bet good money she still wore the same vanilla perfume as she did a decade before.
“Luke, wh-what are you doing here?” she stammered from behind him.
He turned to see her standing with her arms crossed underneath her breasts. Jesus, did she do that on purpose? Luke tried not to notice that her nipples were erect, but it was an impossible feat considering the thin cotton shirt she wore.
“I’m pretty sure you asked me to be here,” he said gruffly.
“I did not.” Was that contempt in her voice? “I didn’t even know you still lived in town.”
Ouch. That hurt.
“You texted me about taking a look at this place,” he said.
“You’re the owner of Old South Contracting?”
The way she said that really pissed him off. Like she couldn’t believe he’d actually made something of himself and wasn’t stuck pumping gas for a living. They’d met through his younger brother, and Luke had been five years older than her when they started dating. At the time he was in his early twenties and not doing much with his life, but was it that impossible to believe he hadn’t followed in his father’s footsteps and become the town drunk?
His mom had taught him to always be a gentleman, but figuring fair was fair, he returned some of her attitude. “That hard to believe?”
“I didn’t realize you had any interest in building things, that’s all.”
“Well, you’ve been gone for the better part of ten years, so you wouldn’t, now would you?” The accusation rang clear in his voice and he cringed inside. He didn’t want her knowing just how affected he’d been by her leaving.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” she said, chin raised high like she was looking down on the world—down on him.
He clenched his jaw. It really ate at his craw that after all these years—and the way she’d ended things—that she was the one throwing attitude at him. She had some nerve. “You could start by telling me what it is you want done here.” Luke motioned to the bare walls and concrete floors surrounding them.