Until Nico

Author: P Hana

Page 9


Once again, we’re both just standing here watching each other. I run a hand through my hair and laugh when I see her eyes drop to my waist. She jumps, her head flying up. “Um…I-I’m just going to put these in some water. Do you want a beer or something?” she rushes out.

“Sure,” I say, taking a quick look around her house.

It’s small, maybe two bedrooms, and the living room is comfortably snug, with a TV, a small loveseat, and a matching chair. I follow her into the kitchen, my eyes watching her hips and ass as she walks. The kitchen is a decent size, with a small dining area attached.

I study her as she pulls a chair from the table, carrying it over to the fridge. “What are you doing?” I ask, seeing the unstable chair wobble as she begins to climb up on top of it.

“My vases are up here,” she says distractedly as she tries to keep her balance on the chair. I walk over to her and pick her up with my hands around her waist. “What are you doing?!” she screeches, her fingers digging into my arms.

“Saving you from breaking your neck,” I tell her, setting her down and squeezing her waist once before placing my hand on her belly to push her back a step. I move the chair out of the way and open the cupboard. “Which one do you want?” I look down at her.

“You just picked me up,” she mumbles almost to herself.

“Yes, so you wouldn’t accidentally off yourself.”

“You just picked me up like I weighed nothing,” she says in disbelief.

“You don’t weigh much,” I inform her. “So, which one do you want?” I repeat my question, watching her face.

“It doesn’t matter,” she replies, and I pull down the first one I touch. “Not that one,” she says, so I put it back in the cupboard and grab another. “Not that one either,” she states, making me smile.

“Babe, this will go a lot faster if you just tell me which one you want.”

“The tall, clear pink one,” she answers then bites her lip, and I know she just changed her mind again.

“You sure?” I ask teasingly.

She shakes her head. “The blue one.”

“You sure?” My hand hovering over the blue vase.

“I’m sure.” She nods.

I pull it down halfway and she reaches up, taking it from me. I close the cupboard and put the chair back.

“The beer is in the fridge. There is also tea, juice, and pop. Just help yourself,” she says, picking up the flowers from the counter.

I grab a beer and lean against the counter to watch her as she measures the flowers, pulls a knife out of the butcher block, lays the flowers over the sink, and then starts to saw the ends off. It takes everything in me not to snatch it away from her and do it myself to make sure she doesn’t cut herself. Once she’s done, she fills the vase with water from the sink’s faucet, drops the flowers in and arranges them, and then sets the bouquet on her table. When she turns around, she jumps like she’s startled.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” she says, pressing her hand to her chest.

“You forgot I was here, didn’t you?” I smile.

“Maybe,” she says, looking sheepish. She walks over to the stove and checks the water in the big stainless-steel pot.

“Not used to having people in your house?” I question, taking another sip of beer.

“I don’t really know too many people around here.”

I watch as she measures out some pasta before dropping it into the boiling water. “How long have you been in Nashville?”

“Six months. I wanted to buy a house, and I couldn’t do that in Seattle, so I decided to move down here.” She pulls the lid off another pot, grabbing the long-handled wooden spoon from the spoon rest sitting between the burners and starts stirring whatever it is inside.

“You moved by yourself?”

“Yeah.” She shrugs her shoulders and lets out a long breath.

“It must have been hard to leave your friends and family behind to move to another state where you didn’t know anyone,” I say gently, not knowing if this topic of conversation will send her shutting down.

“Not really. I have always kinda been a loner.”

“What about your family?” Even though I already know some about her past, I want her to open up to me.

“My mom died when I was fifteen,” she whispers, “and my dad isn’t in my life. My mom and dad were only children, my grandparents are all dead, and I don’t have any siblings.” She bites her lip and continues to stir the pasta sauce.

“I’m sorry.” I take a step towards her, running my hand down her back trying to comfort her. Her body stiffens under my touch, and I watch as she forces herself to relax. “Are you okay?” I ask softly, feeling like I need to treat her like a skittish cat I really want to pet.

“Yeah, I just… I’m not used to people touching me,” she says, making my heart squeeze. I don’t move away from her. She never said she didn’t like or want people to touch her, just that she’s not used to it. I want her to get used to me touching her.

“So what are you making?” I change the subject, using the excuse of seeing what she’s stirring in the pot to move closer to her.

“Spaghetti with meat sauce,” she replies with a small laugh.

“What’s funny?” I smile automatically.

“Nothing.” She looks at me over her shoulder, her eyes widening when she sees how close I am to her. “Wh—”She clears her throat. “What about you? Does your family live around here?”

“They live about forty-five minutes away. I drive to see them every few days.” I lean back against the counter so I can see her face.

“Are you close to them?”

“I am. My mom and dad are still married and still very much in love. I have three brothers—Asher, Trevor, and Cash. Asher is married and has four girls, Trevor is married and has both a daughter and a son on the way, and Cash has one of each too.”

“Cash isn’t married?”

“He was, and I’m sure he’ll be getting married again soon. His story is long and contains a lot of drama. His ex-wife is certifiably insane. Now he’s back with his first love, and they have their daughter and my nephew.”

“And you? You’ve never been married?”

“No. Have you?”

“No.” She looks at me, and I can see that she wants to say more. “I’ve never been married.”