The full moon dappled the shadows beneath the massive oak with patches of light. Thea caught Luke’s hand. He spun her to face him. Their gazes locked. His dark eyes mirrored her eagerness to be together, to make love. Thea wanted to laugh at the joy flooding her spirits.
His lips found hers. He pulled her into a tight embrace. She felt the hardness of his erection and opened her mouth to his questing tongue. His touch, his taste, the aroma of his skin made her desire blossom. There wasn’t time for what they craved. With a sigh she broke the kiss.
Luke slid his hands to her waist. She sighed. “I want to be like this with you forever.”
He kissed the corner of her mouth. “I’d rather be skin to skin.”
He groaned. “I’d better head back. My turn to set the tables for tomorrow.”
“And I’ve beds to turn down.”
“Meet me at the reflecting pool in an hour.”
“I’ll be there.”
He tugged her closer. Their mouths met in a searing kiss. “You’re driving me crazy.”
She nodded. “An hour will seem like forever.”
He released her and dashed toward the kitchen entrance of the sprawling inn.
Thea leaned against the tree. What a wonderful summer. Until now she’d never thought she would find love. Luke was wonderful and he was hers. For longer than the summer, she prayed.
She glanced at her watch. The luminous dial showed she had a few minutes before she needed to be at her duties. The moon gleamed like a golden coin. She had time to test the legend of the reflecting pool. The words the hostess had said to each group of arriving guests flowed into Thea’s thoughts.
Should a man or a woman come to the pool on a night when the moon is full, the face of their true love will be revealed. Should they reject the vision, a life of lonely sadness will follow. There is a second chance to find this love. If the seeker returns to the pool when the moon is full and blue, true love will be recovered.
Thea ran to the garden. She paused beneath the trellis entrance and listened for voices. When she heard none, a wave of relief made her smile. She stepped into the boxwood maze and quickly made her way along the gravel path to the pool. She knelt and stared at the water. Dancing beams of moonlight coalesced. Thea stared at the unfolding pattern. When Luke’s face appeared, her laughter pierced the silent night.
Holding the promise close, she hurried to the Lodge. Wait until she saw Luke and told him. Happiness threatened to erupt. Thea, grind, nerd and all those other names her peers called her, had found her true love. Thea who had never had a date until this summer had found her perfect mate.
Luke was the best-looking of the Lodge’s summer employees. Tall, dark-haired Luke was hers. They had so many common interests. When they weren’t making love, they talked and seldom disagreed.
She thought of the way the other female employees and some of the younger guests had flirted with him. Thea laughed. From the moment their eyes met, they had been a couple.
Thea hurried back to the inn. She arrived on the second floor and began her evening routine. She opened the first of her assigned rooms, folded down the covers and placed a chocolate on each pillow. She entered the bathroom to make sure there was a good supply of fluffy towels.
She walked to the door. Her friend leaned against the wall. “You finished already?”
“Just. You’re running late and I know why.” Sue giggled. “Saw you and Luke sneak off.”
“For ten minutes. No big deal.”
Sue cocked her head. “I wanted to catch you before you two disappeared to make-out.”
The knowing look in Sue’s eyes caused Thea to stiffen. They had been friends since grade school. Thea had often wondered why the friendship had continued through high school and into college. Sue was pretty and popular. Her attention was flattering and brought Thea into the center of events. Thea still helped Sue with her studies. She’d even written papers for her friend. Sometimes Thea wondered if being on the fringes of the in-crowd was worth the effort. If she dropped Sue, where would another friend be found? Thea smiled. There was Luke.
Thea closed the door and walked to her next room. “Luke and I do more than make-out. We talk about serious matters.”
“Sure you do.” Sue grinned. “Just wanted to let you know there’s a party in the guest lounge to celebrate Luke’s birthday.”
“He never mentioned one to me.”
Sue’s smile turned sly. “For good reason. Guess he didn’t want you to know today he turns seventeen. Surprised me when I learned. He looks and acts our age.”
Thea swallowed. Luke was only seventeen. She’d be twenty-two in November. “But he’s a junior in college. He’s pre-med.”
“Heard he’s a genius. Double major, too.” Sue stepped back. “You two are quite the topic in the staff lounge. Some of the girls call you a cradle-snatcher. I told them if you’d known his age you would have cut him cold.”
Thea felt her face flame. How could she have made such a fool of herself? Luke was seventeen. She could be in real trouble. Everyone knew and laughed at her. “Look, we’re just friends. We talk about medicine and surgery.”
Sue arched a brow. “With a few anatomy lessons thrown in. Don’t blame you one bit. I wouldn’t mind a night or two exploring his body. He is one gorgeous hunk. See you.”
Thea waited until Sue vanished down the rear stairs. She quickly finished her rooms and fled to the staff sleeping quarters. Tears stung her eyes. Why hadn’t he told her before she’d become the staff’s joke of the summer?
She splashed water on her face. Luke would be at the reflecting pool. She intended to let him know how she felt about his deception.
* * *