Excerpt of The Gift of Something Grand:

“Why am I in your bed? Think again, Sutherland. You’re in mine.”

Joseph Scarbrough’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. My eyes scanned the room. I fell asleep in a mint green room last night and woke up this morning in a blue one. I was, indeed, in his bed.

But how’d I get in here? Did he really beckon for me in the middle of the night and I succumbed? I wouldn’t do that. Would I?

I watched him run his fingers through his bedhead crop of hair. His bare chest looked richly appealing against the crisp white sheets. I now cursed my overactive imagination because now was not the time to be weak.

“Seriously, Joseph. Why am I in this room?”

“Hell, if I know.” He propped himself up on one elbow. “It was about four in the morning when you came in, and I was too tired to care.”

“Oh, my gawd! I sleep walked?” Sheer panic tightened its vise around my heart. What if I had also talked in my sleep? What if I said things to him? Things that my heart felt which I’d never divulge this soon in a relationship. Scratch that. I didn’t want to know. I just needed to get away.

I jumped from the bed and took the covers with me. “I can’t believe I did this. I’m so sorry.” Brisk air met my bare legs, and I fumbled to cover them with the blankets. I knew I should’ve slept in my own pants and not just the oversized T-shirt Joseph had given me. “Why didn’t you kick me out?”

Joseph’s eyes sparkled like sunlight over a rippling river. His devious smile played havoc with my good sense. “Yeah, ’cause that’s what we men do. We wine and dine women in hope you’ll climb into bed with us—just so we can kick you out.”

I heard his quiet laughter as I hustled toward the door. He leapt from the bed in his boxer briefs—at least I didn’t have to wonder anymore—and caught me before I could make it across the threshold.

“Hey, you don’t have to be sorry. Trust me, I didn’t mind.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. My face flamed with embarrassment. I was not one of those girls who jumped into bed with a guy. To me, an intimate relationship was something further down the line, when both parties were committed and ready. Sure, I was committed and ready, but I was pretty damn sure he wasn’t. “I’m sure you didn’t mind, Joseph. But that’s not me. I don’t hop into bed with men—especially this soon and—”

“Hey,” he interrupted, brushing my tangled hair from my face. “Nothing happened. I promise, I was a perfect gentleman.”

I gritted my teeth and forced a smile. Maybe he was the perfect gentleman, but what was I? I had no recollection of my actions and I feared I may have come on too strong. If I gave in to my deep subconscious desires and climbed into bed with him, what else did I do? “I’m not worried about what you did or didn’t do. I know you wouldn’t take advantage of me but what did I—”

“Jamie, breathe.” He gave me a little shake and looked deep into my eyes. I relaxed at the sight of that calm Montana blue sky staring back at me and sighed. His lovely blue eyes could ground me every time.

“That’s better. Now listen. I was taught never to wake a sleep walker. God knows why, but, frankly, I wouldn’t have wakened you up anyway. It was obvious you had no idea what you were doing. You were cute.”

“Cute?”

“Yes, cute. You know, an innocent cute. And then innocence took a sharp turn toward really hot when you snuggled your little butt against me.”

I sighed even heavier this time. “Great. Just great.” I tried to walk away, dragging the blankets and my shredded dignity with me, but he stopped me again.

“Sutherland, wait. Look, I shouldn’t have said that. I’m a guy, what can I say?”

Though I knew he teased me only to make me feel better, I accepted his apology for being a typical man. It wasn’t his fault that male hormones raged at the sight of a woman’s body, especially one who’s wearing only a T-shirt and panties. God had fashioned that attraction when Eve first donned fig leaf lingerie. Add a casual brush of a female heinie near the vicinity of a man’s groin, coupled with a thirty-something-year-old, sexually-deprived woman, whose subconscious mind likes to live out fantasies, and you have a total catastrophe. Yeah, he was a typical guy and I was evidently a weak and desperate sleep walker.

“Look, Jamie, I know you’re embarrassed about this, but you don’t have to be. Nothing happened.”

“I know, but it’s your sister’s house.”

“And my sister’s house gets drafty. You were cold.” I wondered whether Candace would accept this excuse—or even if she would care her brother and his new date had violated her hospitality.

“I guess.”

Joseph must have heard the skepticism in my voice. He pulled me into his arms, blankets and all, and hugged me. “It could’ve happen to anyone. In fact, I can think of no better person I’d want sleep walking into my bed. In the words of Keith Urban, you look good in my shirt.”

I felt his hand on the bare skin of my thigh where the blankets had failed to cover me. I pushed him away and punched his arm again. “Joseph Scarbrough.”

“Sorry. Still a guy.”

I shook my head at the transparency of men and hobbled into the bedroom across the hall. I tried to keep myself shielded with the swath of blankets wrapped around me, but was failing miserably.

He blew out a perfect construction worker’s whistle. “Nice legs, Sutherland.”