Hey there my lovelies!
I have another installment of Meant to be Family and an adorably awkward first date. I gotta admit, Connor actually shocked me with his level of chivalry and concern. It’s pretty obvious why he is his mother’s favorite.
Six years earlier
Kelsey growled and stripped off the navy shirt with small daisies embroidered on it and grabbed the pale pink one she’d just discarded and glanced at the clock before pulling the top over her head. She only had seven minutes and everything she tried on was stupid or awkward.
She adjusted the thin straps and the cold shoulder sleeves and turned in front of her mirror. Five minutes. It would have to do. She slid on a much safer pair of sparkly sandals to dress up the denim shorts she’d paired the top with and grabbed a pair of silver hoop earrings that she put on as she jogged down the stairway.
Her teeth found her lower lip as soon as she saw him standing on the walkway through the glass front door of the hall. He’d changed into a pair of faded, straight leg jeans and matched it with a blue and white striped button-down shirt, the long sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Kelsey tightened her grip on the lightweight jacket she carried. The guy was seriously hot. How had she never run into him on campus before?
She eyed him up and down. “Wearing white around me and food? You’re a glutton for punishment.”
One corner of his mouth kicked up. “I like to live dangerously.” He pointed at the small SUV parked along the curb. “That’s me. Ready to go?”
Erratically beating butterfly wings assaulted her stomach as she fell in step beside him. His brown hair fell against his forehead and sapphire eyes sparkled with mischief. Danger wasn’t even the half of it. “Apparently I do too.” She lifted herself into the passenger’s seat after he opened the door. “Getting in cars with soup-covered strangers.”
He rested his forearm on the top of the open door and squinted up at the sky for a moment before locking his gaze with hers once again. “Connor Elliott Carlisle. Twenty-one years old, I’m in my junior year for a bachelor’s in architecture. I’m the next to the youngest in a family of four boys and they are all basically the biggest pains in the ass you’ll ever meet. My family has lived in Asheville for as long as I can remember, but once I started college there was no way in hell I was going to still live at home. I like dogs better than cats, I hate pickles on a sandwich, and my favorite color is navy blue.” He winked just before shutting the door. “See, now I’m not a stranger.”
Kelsey was still laughing when he climbed in the driver’s seat beside her. “Is that the civilian version of ‘name, rank, and serial number?’”
Connor stuck the key in the ignition, but didn’t turn the car on. Instead he swiveled in his seat and faced her. “That’s the ‘I want you to feel safe being in a car with me’ speech.”
Her heart stuttered in her chest. “I’d say that’s a pretty successful one then.”
He only drove two miles away from campus to a small diner which took away the last remnants of worry. She was fairly certain he was either laying on the charm exceptionally thick or he was a throwback to a much more chivalrous generation. He opened every door for her and held out her seat. When the waiter arrived he motioned for her to order first and spent most of the night asking about her, only revealing additional details about himself when she gently pushed.
“Okay, spill, is this for real or am I getting punked?” She finally had to ask the burning question when he walked her to the front door of Mills Hall.
His lower lip jutted out slightly and the corners of his mouth curled down, brows furrowed together. “What are you talking about?”
Kelsey’s hand moved up and down to encompass him before motioning back and forth between them. “You. This. Tonight. First I spill my food on you in a crowded cafeteria, which I really do need to replace your clothes for you.” He rolled his eyes and his head fell back, but she continued. “Then you take me out to dinner and are a level of gentleman that would embarrass Gene Kelly. How can you be real?”
“First,” Connor took a small step forward, closing some of the space between them, “you don’t need to replace anything. Second, my mother will be thrilled to hear that I behaved exactly the way she raised me to, although probably not surprised. Don’t tell my brothers, but I’m definitely her favorite.”
She fought to control the grin that was causing her lips to twitch.
He took a second step toward her and tentatively laced his right fingers through hers. “But maybe I had an ulterior motive to it all.”
“Ha!” She crowed with delight and poked a finger against his chest with her free hand. “I knew it! I knew you had something shady up your sleeve. Okay, out with it.”
Connor gripped her waist on the left side. “I wanted to kiss you.”
The smug grin disappeared and she blinked up at him several times. “Wait, you…what?”
He curled his lips in a soft smile. “The entire time you were talking in the cafeteria—and you really do talk a lot—I couldn’t stop looking at your mouth and wanting to kiss you.” He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. “Can I?”
His eyes nearly hypnotized her, but not half as much as the tender words he spoke, sincerity lacing each one. Her voice refused to cooperate and she was left to simply nod. Connor’s hand released hers and held onto the back of her neck. His lips found hers and brushed against them softly, with reverence and care.
In the fading sunset, moments ticked by unnoticed. Kelsey had a handful of boyfriends in high school and one serious one since she started college three years ago, but none of them had ever kissed her like this. She gripped his wrist to keep him in place with one hand, the other stroked the front of his shirt.
When they finally broke, she blinked several times to bring his face back into focus. She ran her tongue along her lower lip. “Was…was that what you expected?”
He grinned and bent down, planting one more soft kiss on her cheek. His mouth moved to her ear, creating a shiver down her spine. “Better.” With one last squeeze, he released her and offered a small wave as he walked backwards to his car. “Night, Kels.”