“I love powdered sugar,” I blurt out. There. That’s something I can claim to love easily, and it loves me back too. Especially my hips.
“I’m shocked.” Q pushes off the wall he’s leaning against and clears the space between us. He’s taken off his suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his button-up shirt. I watch transfixed as his eyes lock with mine. My breath hitches when he lifts his hand and his thumb swipes across my cheek. When he pulls it back, I see a trace of white powder there.
“I’m a bit of a mess when I cook. Sorry.” He brings his thumb to his mouth, sucking the powder off, and my eyes drop to his full lips.
“You’re not a mess, sweets,” he says as he starts to lean down. Is he going to kiss me? No, that can’t be right. My hands shoot out, pressing against his broad hard chest to stop him, and his brows lift in surprise.
“What did you call me?”
I shake my head because that’s not what he said. “Sweets,” I repeat. “You called me sweets.”
“Maybe.” He shrugs. “I call a lot of people that. Like darling or honey.”
I push on his chest again, but he doesn’t move. I take a step back, wondering what is wrong with me. I almost let him kiss me while I’m interviewing for a job.
“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice low.
“It’s fine.” I try to shake it off and bring my attention back to the icing I was making. Jealousy irks me at the thought of him calling other people those names. Does he do it to his staff? He might just be flirting and I’m reading it all wrong because he’s so dang handsome. I’m starting to think this job might not be a good idea.
“It’s not fine. I lied to you.” I snap my head back up. “I don’t call other people sweets or darling. Sweets fits you.”
“I suppose.” Star and my brother always say I smell like sugar.
“Do you feel this, Astrid?” He braces both of his hands on the counter next to me.
“I don’t know what is going on, but I have a boyfriend,” I rush to say, practically shouting the word “boyfriend.”
“Then your boyfriend is a dumbass.” He pushes away and then walks over to the wall to lean against it and watch me bake. He folds his arms over his chest, looking pissed. “If you were mine, you sure as hell wouldn’t be my girlfriend.”
“What does that mean?” I huff, searching the counter for a measuring spoon I don’t actually need.
“You’d be my woman. My wife,” he declares, and I spin around, knocking several things off the counter and onto the floor. “Okay, maybe you’re a bit of a mess, but it’s really part of the appeal, if you ask me.”
I stand there as he begins to pick things up. “I have a boyfriend,” I repeat.
“Like I said, he’s a dumbass. I’ve been dying, waiting for today to come. It’s been two weeks since that wedding reception.”
“Really?” My heart flutters.
“Yeah, really. Where’s this boyfriend been?” he challenges.
“Okay, he’s not my boyfriend. He’s my friend from online. I thought maybe when I moved back here we’d…” I trail off, knowing I sound pathetic. I stare up at him, and I expect him to tell me I’m crazy or that I’m likely being catfished, but he doesn’t say anything. “Your eyes. They remind me of someone.”
His brows lift. “Who?”
“Someone from long ago.”
“Is he a boyfriend too?” A smirk plays at his lips, and I know he’s teasing me.
“No.” I shake my head. “I doubt he would remember me. He was my brother's friend. We were both little, and I was the typical younger sister crushing on my brother's friend.” I roll my eyes, trying to play it off.
“I doubt he could forget you, sweets. You’re very unforgettable.”
Wow, maybe I am being stupid. I’m holding on to things that might never happen and clinging to fantasies I’ve made up in my head. Right now I have a man standing in front of me, clearly interested, and isn’t that what I want?
I lick my lips, knowing this is probably a terrible idea as I start to lift up onto my tiptoes. One kiss wouldn’t be terrible right?
“Sweets,” Q whispers, his warm breath brushing against my mouth.
“Sir,” someone calls, and I jump back away from Q as a man in a chef's coat comes pushing through the swinging door. He freezes when he sees the two of us. “This her?” he says after a beat.
“Me?” I point to myself like a freaking dork.
“Carlo, this is Astrid. I’m trying to talk her into coming on board. We’re going to give it a test run next week at the Valentine’s event.”
“Put him out of his misery and just agree already. The man’s been an ass for the past two weeks.” Carlo ribs Q. “Holy shit, can I try this?” Carlo comes over to inspect what I’ve already got started.