The One Love Collection by Lauren Blakely




1





Abby





Attraction is a funny thing. It’s chemical, right? At first it’s all snap, crackle, pop—a cocktail of desire. And what an intoxicating mix it is. It’s a rush, it’s a thrill . . . it’s pure exhilaration uncorked. It makes you giddy. It makes you feel like you can run a marathon and still scale a building even after the twenty-sixth mile is complete.

And I really hate running.

Attraction can turn ordinarily sensible men and women into single-minded hunters, silly fools, and sometimes into lucky lovers.

When the feeling is mutual, most of the time everyone is happy and they go about their merry business. No one hears about these couplings, because little gets in the way. Good for them, and tra-la-la-dee-dah.

But sometimes, attraction is unrequited, and sometimes we don’t even admit it exists. I’m about to vehemently deny it, as the other nannies and babysitters scoot closer on the bleachers and whisper.

Simon walks onto the deck at the pool where his daughter takes swim lessons. The reaction is predictable as clockwork. The redheaded sitter of the unruly twin girls fluffs her hair; the brunette with the cat eye glasses crosses her tanned, toned legs that go on forever; and the petite Australian nanny with her ponytail of silky black hair just gasps.

All eyes follow the man as he strides past the deep end, looking too gorgeous to be real.

“How do you manage working for him?” Ponytail Aussie whispers to me in a hushed breath.

“He’s easy to work for,” I say, though I know that’s not what she’s asking.

The real question comes next, landing in the chlorinated air.

“Seriously,” the leggy one says. I’m jealous of her. I’ll admit it. I’m a short girl, and I would love to borrow her legs for a night. I’d swap them out for my boobs, and that’s a more than fair trade, because what I lack in height, I make up for in the girls. “How do you work with all that hotness?” she continues, prodding. “If you looked up ‘hot single dad’ in the dictionary, you’d find his picture.”

Yeah.

He is.

He’s the prize in the available dad sweepstakes.

Because . . .

Six foot three. Broad shoulders. Flat stomach. Trim waist. Square jawline. Hint of stubble. Dark blond hair. Light blue eyes. And a smile that makes you melt into a puddle of lust.

Oh, and get this. He’s also a sharp-dressed man, and that’s my weakness. Charcoal slacks, shiny shoes, and those tailored shirts that fit deliciously. You know, the kind where the fabric just slides into the waistband of his pants, and you can’t help but think how is it your belly does a perfect imitation of a washboard, and can I please conduct some firmness tests on it? For the sake of science, of course.

When handsomeness was handed out, Simon Travers landed more than a few extra helpings. The man snagged someone else’s share, too. And another’s and another’s.

But that’s not all he’s got going on, and I’m dying to tell the other women that there’s more to him than meets the eye. So much more.

He’s sweet, kind, smart, funny, and good. So damn good. And, for a bonus prize, add in that he’s an amazing father. That’s some sexy kryptonite right there.

Only, if I tried to explain all those other traits, they’d know. They’d sniff me out in the snap of the fingers. They’d see the attraction written on my face, hear it in my words.

I can’t let on how I feel about Simon, because I’ve spent the last seven months taking care of his adorable five-year-old daughter. And I’ve spent the last six months, three weeks, and four days keeping the cat of all that attraction tucked in a neat, sealed, airtight bag.

(That’s a metaphor, obviously. No cats were harmed in the telling of this tale.)

And for the math wizards of the world, that means it took me three days on the clock to like the guy.

Fine, I’ll admit that’s hardly any time at all, but he’s just that likeable.

That also means I spend all my working days fighting this need to fling myself at him. It’s not as though he’s ever given me a sign that he’s interested, so call this crush unrequited. I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve come to accept it, the same way you accept having a spray of freckles across your nose, or curly hair that’ll never straighten. It’s a fact of my existence now, and like the freckles and the curls, I deal with it when I arrive at work, when I leave work, and when I meet him at various places in the city, including here.