“Hi!” I spin around. Stunning green eyes pierce mine and a wide smile spreads across the man’s features. My heart takes a leap up to my throat. Oh crap. “Eric,” I acknowledge and give him a curt nod. My feelings about meeting him again are a jumbled mess. Excitement, paired with a dose of anxiousness, spiced up with a pinch of attraction, and a slice of fright, all fight for space in my chest. “Anna… was it?” He cocks his head. “Fancy seeing you again. On your way home?” He nods at the exit. I grimace and look at the busy boulevard outside the glass doors, toward freedom. “No such luck. I have loads of work left.” I shift and correct my grip on the pile of documents. His gaze lingers on the wad of papers, or perhaps my chest, or both. I suck in a breath as a shiver rushes through me. “Are you on the run, then?” He glances behind me, then leans forward, lowering his voice. “No one’s chasing you yet, so I think you still have time.” He holds my gaze and I laugh nervously. “Nah, I need something to eat.” I start toward the exit, intent on fleeing, but he falls in line next to me, matching my pace. “I’ll walk you there.” “That’s not really necessary.” My mouth turns dry. Fifteen minutes with him this morning messed with my head the rest of the day. That’s enough excitement for this month. Please come back in January. “Not a problem,” he says, again completely tone-deaf to my inner blabbering. “I’m supplementing myself with another coffee before I need to get back to work myself.” I can’t very well prevent him from exercising his free will, so off we go. To Starbucks. Again. He holds the door, very gentlemanly, then he insists to pay for my wrap and carrot cake. I try to pay for my own stuff, but he’s adamant and it gets to the point of being ridiculous in front of the cashier and with people behind us sighing louder and louder. “Have we moved from arguing coffee to arguing finances already?” he asks. “That was fast. Next up we’ll be divorcing before we’re even married.” My cheeks heat up and I let him pay whatever he wants to pay. “Thanks, I’ll…” I motion toward the exit with a nod, my arms full of folders and paper bags. All I want is to flee back to the safety of my office, my plans for working at the cafe while I eat shattered. He balances a cup of coffee in one hand and stuffs his wallet back into the inner pocket of his suit jacket with the other. “Sit with me?” He gestures to an empty table, interrupting my attempt at an escape. He doesn’t sound so cocky as he did this morning. It feels a little less threatening, and I find my will wavering. I regard him a moment and make up my mind. “All right, but only for a short while. The longer I stay here, the later I’ll have to work.” I sound stiff. It’s not how I mean for it to come out, but I’m decidedly rattled by his presence, and him asking me to join him. Of course he picks up on that. He frowns and lays a warm hand on my elbow. I jerk hard with surprise, my heart leaping. He removes it immediately, glancing down at the spot he touched and then back up at my face. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to invade your personal space. It’s... No, never mind.” He looks at his shoes before he meets my eyes again. “Have a nice evening. Don’t work too hard.” “No, it’s okay,” I say quickly. “I can sit for a bit, I guess.” His face lights up, and I dare a smile. My heart jolts from the beautiful sight when his features brighten. He takes the lead and finds us a little table in a corner by the window. I nearly lose my grip on everything I’m carrying when I try to sit. Only his quick reaction saves me, grabbing the paper bag and steadying my hold on the documents with his hands on my forearms. I jerk again, from the unexpected contact, skin on skin, and his arms drop as suddenly as he lifted them. The burning sensation from his fingers lingers long after he’s let me go, making me want to touch the spots myself to see if his hands are still there. I clear my throat, my heart rushing, then I pull out the chair to sit, the legs scraping loudly against the floor. “I’m sorry, I—” we say in unison and then laugh, the tension dissipating. “I didn’t mean—” He gestures defensively. “No. It’s all right. It’s me, I…” I don’t continue. It’s not something I tell people, the thing that happened last year. The thing that killed my wish to ever let a man touch me again. And yet here I am, despite myself, talking to this man. Eric.