All I can think is, Thank f**k. Her eyes get big, like she’s read my mind, and I smile as I watch her cheeks turn pink.
“Do you want me to help you with anything?”
“If you can strain the pasta, that would help.”
She walks to the sink and puts the colander down inside it before going to the fridge, where she pulls out a salad. Then she walks over to put it on the table. She makes her way back to the stove to turn off all the burners, and as I finish straining all the water from the noodles, I watch her, mesmerized, as she leans close to the sauce, inhales deeply, and lets out a soft moan. Again, she’s completely unaware of how f**king sexy she is.
I have to force myself to unlock the death grip I’ve unintentionally clamped onto her plastic colander. Luckily, I haven’t snapped it yet. When we have everything ready, we both sit at the table, where she starts putting the pasta on each of our plates.
“This is awkward,” she says, catching me off guard.
“Really? You think so?” I ask, not feeling the least bit out of place.
“You don’t?” she asks in response, her eyes meeting mine.
“No. Do you feel uncomfortable around me?”
“No, I guess not,” she says, taking a deep breath.
“As long as you don’t feel uncomfortable, awkward is okay.” I run my fingers over the top of her hand.
“I guess you’re right,” she concedes with a little shiver.
I unwillingly force my hand away from hers to pick up my fork, and while we eat, the conversation is light and easy. After we finish the simple but delicious dinner she cooked, we both stand in the kitchen, me with my hip to the counter, and her sitting across from me next to the sink after we finished washing the dishes.
“So, your dog is named Daisy?” She laughs as I pull out my phone to scroll through my pictures so I can show her some of Daisy.
“Here she is.” I hold my cell out to her.
She looks at the screen and her eyebrows rise. Then she brings her focus back to me with a curious look on her face. “She’s adorable. And so not the kind of dog I would expect you to have.”
“Why’s that?” I ask with a straight face, knowing the reason. Daisy is a cream-colored miniature Pomeranian who weighed about four pounds the last time I took her to the vet. She looks like she should be some blond-haired, blue-eyed valley girl’s lapdog.
“You just seem like you would own a Rottweiler or Doberman,” she says with a shrug.
“Is that so?” I raise an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry. that was rude.” She looks back down at the phone.
I put a finger under her chin, bringing her eyes back to me. “I’m just kidding. I know she doesn’t fit my image, but she’s mine. I rescued her while I was on a job when she was just a pup, and I had to bottle-feed her. She was so small she fit right in the palm of my hand,” I tell her, holding up my hand and smiling.
“Aww…you’re a proud papa.” The smile she gives me has me wanting to lean in and taste it.
“I guess I am.”
She goes back to looking at my phone, and I go back to watching her. She is beautiful in a way that is completely natural; none of it is fake or for show. It’s just her—who she is. She hands me my phone back, looking around before putting her eyes back on mine. “So, um…do you want to watch a movie or something?”
“Sure, if you’re up to it.”
“Yeah. I have Netflix and On-Demand, so you can pretty much pick whatever.”
I follow her into the living room and sit down on the sofa to watch as she sets up the TV before coming back to sit next to me. Her couch is small, so it forces her to sit close.
“What would you like to watch?” she asks, turning her head to me.
“Doesn’t matter.” I twirl a small piece of her hair that has fallen out of her messy bun around my finger.
“How about The Breakfast Club? I haven’t seen it in a long time,” she suggests, unconsciously tilting her head towards me.
I want to kiss her. My brain is battling against my body, wanting to get closer to her, wanting to taste her mouth again; it’s taking everything in me not to close the small gap between us. I watch her eyes flare slightly, and then she licks her bottom lip, making me wonder if she is thinking the same thing.
I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself. Looking away from Nico takes all my power; I’m so drawn to him that I wonder if it’s normal or healthy, and it makes me second-guess things. I don’t want someone just so they’ll fill the hollow places inside of me.
“So, The Breakfast Club it is, then,” I say, trying to be casual about it in an attempt to cover how nervous I’m feeling.
“Sounds good,” he replies, sitting back against the couch and getting comfortable. Now I’m wishing I would have paid the extra one hundred dollars and gotten a bigger couch instead of the loveseat.
I start the movie and sit back against the cushion, and I’m so close to him that I can feel the heat from his body. I don’t know how to sit, so I move my legs under me and start to lean against the armrest.
“Come ’ere,” he says with a smile teasing his lips as he pulls me by the arm.
My body moves into his, his arm sliding around me and holding me to him. He smells like leather and musk, and I want to explore him to find out where the smell is coming from. I bite the tip of my tongue hard, trying to find something else to think about other than how hard his body feels against mine.
“Relax,” he whispers, running his hand down my arm. I shiver against him—not from cold, but from the way it feels when he touches me. “You warm enough?”
“Yeah,” I whisper, taking another breath as my belly goes crazy with butterflies. I feel his chest moving and I think he’s laughing, so I turn my head to look up at him.
“You know, you’re really adorable,” he says when our eyes meet. I scrunch up my face at him. I don’t want to be adorable; I want to be beautiful or sexy, not adorable.
“Relax, sweet Sophie. We’re just watching a movie.” His hand cups my cheek, his thumb sliding over my lower lip as his eyes follow.
My breath catches and I nod. His hand drops and slides around my shoulder, pulling me snug against him. I can’t help but to relax as he slides it gently up and down my arm. We watch the movie in comfortable silence, and at some point, I fall asleep.
I wake to the room being cast in a blue glow. It takes a second to remember where I am and who I’m lying on. I put my hand to my mouth, knowing that I probably just drooled all over his shirt, and when I turn my head to apologize, I see that he’s asleep. His arm tightens around me like he doesn’t want me to move. I watch him closely, taking in every contour of his face and the slight stubble along his jaw. Even in sleep, he looks dangerous, but then I think about how gentle he is with me and I wonder how it’s possible for someone to be so complicatedly beautiful.