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Chapter Nine

Christian had returned home, showered, shaved, and dressed. His head was pounding, but he was on a mission. The evening with Tori hadn’t ended the way he’d wanted it to. Whatever he’d said a year ago was still keeping them apart. He needed to remedy that.

As he gathered his phone off the table and shoved his keys into his pocket there was a knock on the door. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that was Tori?

But there was a grand disappointment when he opened the door and saw his sister and her husband standing on his porch.

“I want details,” Clara said, pushing past him and into the house.

Warner followed his wife into the house with a reluctant grin on his face.

Christian shook his head and shut the door. He’d love to tell his sister that he had plans, but he knew better. If she wanted something she was going to get it—even if he planned not to tell her. She had a gift. She’d read him.

She was already making coffee.

Christian walked into the kitchen. “Make yourself at home.”

“I am. Warner, do you want cream?” Clara asked as she pulled mugs from the cupboard.

“No. I’m fine.”

He’d exchanged a look with Christian letting him know that she’d dragged him along and he’d rather be anywhere else.

“So,” she started her interrogation. “Do I have my future sister-in-law back? You did keep her at the hotel.”

“How do you know that?”

She settled her eyes on him. “I’m not stupid.”

“Okay, we stayed at the hotel together. Neither of us was sober enough to drive home.”

She was tapping on the coffee maker as if it would brew the coffee faster. “Tell me you worked things out.”

“Clara, it’s been a year. You just don’t have one night and things are back together.” Though if his sister would leave his house he could head over to Tori’s house and work on getting her back. They’d had one hell of a night and he missed her more than he thought he had.

He understood that a relationship with Tori would never be easy. It had taken him a year to realize that it certainly wasn’t easy for her. But if he loved her as much as he thought he did, he could accept the fate she’d been given.

Clara poured each of them a cup of coffee and brought it to the table, where she sat down next to his brother-in-law. “So you did have a night.” The corner of her mouth lifted in a half smile.

“Are you just looking for gossip?”

“Not really. I’m looking for proof that you’re going to move beyond this funk you’ve been in all year.”

“Lovely, thanks.” His comment was as snarky as he felt. He sipped his coffee and then set the mug back on the table and looked at his sister. “Listen, I know I was an ass. It has been pointed out to me that I’m the one who ruined the relationship we had. After last night, I want to try and fix that.”

Clara’s grin was a full one now. “Really? You’re going after her?”

“If she’ll have me.” He pursed his lips. “Of course when I dropped her off this morning she jumped out of the car and ran into the house as fast as she could. It didn’t seem promising. Somewhere between all the…between falling asleep last night and her getting a call to pick up the kids this morning her attitude changed.”

“You broke a woman’s heart. It’ll take some work to fix it.”

“I know that.” He considered his sister for a moment. “I guess I do have one thing on my side.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m a Keller. Everything eventually works out for the Kellers.”

She shook her head. “C’mon, Warner. Our work here is done. He’s cocky again.”

Christian laughed realizing cocky was more his style.

Victoria spent the afternoon cleaning house. Things were better when she was cleaning—or at least her mind had something else to think about.

The kids had their lunch and settled down for a nap. Even with the dishwasher purring in the background and the washing machine spinning in the other room, the house was too quiet. She’d dusted every room, mopped the kitchen floor and was now scrubbing the toilet.

Her hair hung in her eyes and she blew it away just as the doorbell rang. Victoria stood up, her back aching and her head matching the pain from the night before. With a glance in the mirror she figured she couldn’t look much worse and whoever was on the other side of that door was going to get an eyeful. She could care less that her attire was an old pair of Chris’s sweats that she’d stolen years ago and her T-shirt had a huge hole near the hem.

With the toilet brush in her yellow gloved hand, she pulled open the door to find a casually dressed Christian standing at her door with a grocery store bouquet of flowers.

Her mouth fell open as she stared at this man in his jeans and well fitted T-shirt. He pushed his Ray-Ban sunglasses atop his head leaving a tunnel in his beautifully dark hair.

“Chris!” She blinked and then blew another hair from her eyes. “Why are you here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“Now?”

He smiled that smile that accentuated his dimpled cheeks and showcased his perfectly straight, white teeth. “What’s wrong with now?”

She looked down at herself and then back up at him, but he was still smiling. “I’m busy.”

“Any woman in the world would welcome a man at the door over scrubbing a toilet in stolen sweat pants.”

She set her jaw. “Really, Chris, I don’t think…”

“Don’t think.” He stepped inside the door forcing her to take a step back and let him in—uninvited. “It’s quiet. Are the kids gone?”

“Napping.”

“Good.” He’d moved in closer to her and wrapped his arm around her waist. Suddenly she was pressed up against him, her arms pushed out to the side to keep her gloved hands and the toilet brush at bay. “I missed you.”

“Chris, let me go.”

“I want to kiss you.”

She tried to steady her breath. She wanted to kiss him too, but under no circumstance was she going to. Finally, forgetting the gloves and any chemicals they might have on them—or anything else she might have touched—she pushed him back.

“Why are you here?” she demanded.

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