“Ouch.” He rubbed the spot and with a rueful shrug, scooted out and brushed the back of his head to shake any leaves free. “You startled me. I was just finishing up.”
“What are you doing under there, anyway?” Paige leaned down to peer into the recess under the floor of the little building. “That doesn’t even look safe. I’d be afraid of bugs and snakes and other unnamed creepy crawlies.”
“Oh, they’re all gone now.” Josh reached under the building and felt around until he grasped his treasure. “Scared them away with the rake before I retrieved this.”
He pulled one of the rocks out and held it up for Paige to see.
Her gasp of joy pleased him. She reached for the crystal in his hand.
“I don’t believe it. However did you find this? It’s gorgeous.” She held it up, letting the sun reflect through it, flashing colors.
“Rose quartz, madam, if I don’t miss my guess. And there are more.” He reached back to the neat pile he’d gathered at the edge of the foundation and pulled out another stone. “This one is granite. It will be beautiful wet.”
She caught the idea immediately. “Maybe in the bird bath.” She dropped down in the grass to sit cross-legged beside him. Then she took the fist-sized rock, spit on it, and rubbed the spot. “Or if I ever build my waterfall.”
“If you build a little pond, you can fit all these in. Come take a look.” He continued scraping the rocks from the pile forward, bringing one after another into the light. This was his first good look at them, and he gave a low whistle. “This isn’t just a pile of rocks. It was someone’s collection once upon a time. I think this is jade.”
He gathered three non-descript ones with similar surfaces and dropped them into Paige’s lap. “Here are some geodes. If you crack them open, you’ll find jagged crystals inside. Here, this one is open.”
They moved their heads closer together as they handled the hollow crystal and sorted through others. Paige looked up, and Josh found her eyes, blue and sparkling with joy, only inches from his. He could get lost in those eyes. The light in them was clear and bright and eager. He didn’t want to look away, but she broke the gaze.
A blush crept up her neck, and she shifted a little farther from him. “You seem to know a lot about rocks.”
“I was an avid collector as a kid. My mom makes jewelry and always had lots of rocks around for her work.” He picked up a purple crystal and held it out to her.
She opened her palm.
He dropped it into her hand and let his fingers trail across her wrist before he moved them away.”That one was always my favorite. It’s an amethyst. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Amethyst is my birthstone.” Her voice was low, almost a whisper, and filled with a kind of awe that touched him to the core.
“You have a February birthday, then.” He frowned a minute, pulling words from a deep memory. “It is a crystal known for cleansing the aura, enhancing spiritual awareness, and…”
He struggled to remember the rest. Then he remembered and swallowed. “And attracting loving energy. It suits you.” Loving energy emanated from Paige.
“It is beautiful.”
He looked at her face, the perfection of her skin, slightly pink and so touchable, and he reached out one finger and ran it down her cheek. Electricity crackled up his arm.
“Yes, it is.” He stopped at her mouth, shifted so his thumb was there instead, and hooked his finger under her chin. Then he lifted her eyes to his. “Beautiful,” he repeated.
Her breathing picked up, and his own grew rapid and shallow, matching his speeding heart. He struggled to remember that he’d only seen this woman once before. He barely knew her, but somehow that didn’t compute. The only thought he could process was how her lips would feel under his. He leaned forward for a little taste and found her lips parted ever so slightly and her breath tasting of cinnamon. She shifted a little closer.
She tasted of everything good and right in the world. Cinnamon and vanilla and honey. He moved his lips slowly, carefully, taking his time, giving her time to draw back or not, to do what she wanted and needed to do.
Her hand came up to his face and she angled in, deepening their kiss and stealing his reserve. Her fingers tested the feel of his hair, the stubble on his face, and then her tongue flicked the corner of his mouth.
Had he moaned out loud? He needed to press closer. He put his arm around her shoulder and shifted so their bodies touched as he pulled her against him.
They both broke off and pulled back, she with a giggle, and he with a muffled curse, as the pointed edges of the rock collection dug into his hip.”Dratted rocks.”
The pile he’d pulled out for her viewing pleasure made a decidedly unpleasant place to lounge for a first kiss. His gaze darted up to meet hers, and he burst into laughter as she covered her mouth and smothered her own chuckles. Her eyes danced, filled with joy in the craziness of the moment.