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"Brett and I were just catching up." The minute he tossed the tarp back, she hurried forward and stood on her tiptoes, peeking into the back.
He nudged her aside with his shoulder. "Go inside. These are too heavy for you. I'll bring the crates in and you can unpack them."
Her eyes lit up. "I can't wait to see your boots."
Van laughed as she fairly skipped back into the store. He carried a crate in and set it by the shelves. "Unpack all the boots and place them in pairs on the shelf. Largest ones on the bottom shelf."
Tessa's excitement at seeing Van's creations spun in her chest like a colorful toy top. She picked up the hammer he'd left on the shelf and pried open the crate. Nestled in wood shavings were various sizes and colors of everyday boots. She pulled one out, ran her palm over the smooth leather and her fingertip down the stitching. She'd never thought about the person who made boots and shoes before. They were just necessary. Something to make walking over sticks, thorns, and rocks easier and to keep your feet warm in the winter. Studying the way the boot was made she had a new appreciation.
"Is something wrong with it?" Van asked, placing another crate next to the open box.
"No! No, I was just admiring the workmanship." She stared up his long body to the worried face watching her. Tessa stood. "I had never given my shoes that much thought, but looking at this…you do beautiful work, and I can see why people want your boots."
His eyes glowed with pride and then flared into a gaze so intense and mesmerizing she couldn't move. He stepped forward, his toes meeting hers, and placed his hands, hot and heavy, on her shoulders. She leaned, yes, she was leaning toward him. She wanted to feel his lips on hers. See if the tingling sensation building in her could be snuffed by his kiss.
Stomping. She barely registered the sound before Van pushed her away and turned to the door.
"My, I didn't believe it when Brett said you'd already be here this morning," Beth said, stepping through the open door. Tessa moaned inwardly. She'd been leaning into Van for a kiss and the shop door had been standing wide open. She shivered when the chill December air registered through her cotton dress.
Van slipped by Beth and out the door before she closed it.
"Brr. It's cold in here. You really need to keep the door shut so you don't freeze." She walked next to Tessa. "Or so people don’t start talking about you two." Her friend raised a blonde eyebrow and nodded to the door.
Tessa slapped her hands on her cheeks. Beth had seen her improper behavior. "He was just helping me rise. I became stiff from all the cleaning yesterday."
Beth just stared at her with a silly smile and nodded.