Gorgeous in jeans and a black tank top with silver studs along the neckline, she stood in front of Birdie’s desk, biting her lip and looking like she was about to bolt.
Probably because Birdie was giving her the third degree. “So you’re marrying my Hank, are you? How many times have you been married before? What kind of housekeeper are you? You know he likes a neat house—”
“Birdie.” Hank barked his aunt’s name out like a command.
The grilling came to a fast end as Birdie whipped around. Not even an ounce of guilt colored her face, the old battle ax. “I was just about to let you know your fiancée’s here.”
“I see that. Stop harassing her.”
Birdie’s mouth thinned to a hard line. He looked at Ivy and tipped his head toward the space behind him. “Come into the office for a second.”
She did as he asked. He shut the door as soon as she was inside and pulled her into a kiss, unable to keep from groping her a little as he did. A soft, possessive growl slipped from his throat, and he nipped her bottom lip.
She sucked in a breath and pushed at his chest, her eyes half-gold with the same thing he was feeling. “Not that that wasn’t the best greeting I’ve had in a long time, but what’s gotten into you?”
He honestly didn’t know. He’d never felt this out of control before in his life. “You have.”
She stayed in his arms, eyes slitting down to half as she raked him with a languid glance. “I think it’s moon fever.”
“Maybe.” He gave her a few inches of room but didn’t release her entirely. “You want me to stop?”
She pursed her lips like she was trying not to laugh. “No. It’s kinda nice to have a guy who looks like you all hot and bothered by little ol’ me.”
He snorted. “Little ol’ you?”
She leaned back and frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re not a little delicate flower. Which I like.” He grabbed her hips. “You’re tall and built, and I couldn’t ask for more. It’s nice to be with a woman I don’t feel like I’m going to break.”
Her eyes narrowed and she maintained her distance. “Are you saying you’ve been with a lot of women?”
“No.” He let her go, wondering what she’d think of his long, self-imposed dry spell.
“Did I ruin the moment?”
He shook his head. “I haven’t been with a woman in four, maybe five years.”
She looked a little horrified. “Why? There’s certainly nothing wrong with you physically to keep you from…indulging.”
He shrugged and pulled out one of his office chairs for her before he sat on the edge of his desk. “I didn’t want to get involved because I knew this day might come.”
She took the chair and beamed up at him. “So basically, you were waiting for me?”
He laughed softly. “Yeah, I guess I was.”
Looking very pleased with that answer, she blinked her big brown eyes at him. “Where are you taking me for lunch?”
She rolled her gaze toward the ceiling. “Oh good, the scene of the crime.”
“Do you want to go somewhere else? I was thinking you could get to know Bridget a little better if we—”
“It’s fine. I’m a big girl, as you said.” She grinned. “I can handle it.”
“Good, because after lunch, I have a surprise for you.”
She perked up. “More wooing?”
“You could say that. Speaking of surprises, I got a delivery today.” He reached behind him and dug out the envelope. He shook the pictures into his hand. “I assume this is Charlie?”
She stared at the photos, her mouth slowly dropping open as worry bracketed her eyes. “Yes, that’s Charlie. At school. Who delivered these?”
“No idea. They showed up on Birdie’s desk when she ran out to the Shop & Save.”
Ivy stiffened, her body suddenly wound like a coil. “Why would someone do that?”
“To cause trouble. There’s no other reason.”
She cursed softly. “I don’t like the idea of being watched like that.”
“I can imagine.” It was a violation of her privacy, although not an actual crime. “Do you think Charlie’s in danger?”
A dark shadow passed through her gaze before she shook her head and looked away. “He’s with my parents.”
But there was no ring of assurance in her tone.
She worried the seam on the leg of her jeans. “You think someone’s trying to stop us from getting married?”
“Maybe. Who stands to gain if the truce is called off?”
“No one, really. It benefits both families, the way I see it. Mine more than yours. Not that I think anyone on your side is behind this.”
He nodded, happy she’d said that. “I see it that way, too, but think about it, and if you come up with any names, let me know.”
“I will.” Her mouth bunched to one side. “I don’t like this at all.”
He tossed the pictures on the desk, then reached out, took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “I’ve already told you I’m in. Nothing’s going to make me change my mind.”
She stared up at him. “Same for me.” Her words were hesitant.
“Why do I hear a ‘but’ in that answer?”