Faith didn’t give the man a second thought as she crossed the tiled lobby of the hotel. Laughter and the clink of glasses drifted out from the hotel bar as she stepped onto the elevator. Her attention shifted to room 701.

As the gilded doors slid closed, a hand reached between and pushed them open. She tensed for a second, thinking her admirer had followed, but then breathed a sigh of relief as Hayden casually stepped into the elevator.

He stood stock straight, staring ahead without acknowledging her. Broad shoulders, muscled thighs, and braced feet commanded most of the horizontal real estate, and over six foot two inches of height ate into a healthy portion of the elevator’s vertical space.

“Looks like you made a new friend,” he said.

Tucking her purse under her arm, she locked her gaze with his in the door’s reflection. “Not a friend.”

“He’s been watching you for at least a half hour.”

“As I’m sure half the people in that room were tonight.”

Hayden was a foot from her, but his proximity warmed her skin. Touching him was tempting, but elevator cameras kept her gaze forward as overhead music reminded her of piña coladas and dancing in the rain. The lighted elevator panel ticked off the floors until reaching seven. Hayden placed his hand over the open door and waited for her to exit.

She moved down the hallway, following the signs to 701. It felt good to be away from the crowds, the forced smiles and pretending.

Hayden’s steady steps followed, and when they reached the door, he produced a key and opened it. She passed him and flipped on the lights.

The room wasn’t fancy, but a shaving kit on the dresser, dry-cleaned shirts in the closet, and the closed curtains told her he’d been there earlier. He’d commented once that he lived out of hotel rooms for the most part and stayed on the go. She’d wager if she opened the curtains, she’d find a view of air-conditioning units or a brick wall. But then neither of them had come here for the sparkling view of Austin.

Copyright © Mary Burton 2018