“I see you were expecting me,” I tease, and that snaps her out of her block of ice.
She quickly crosses her arms over her chest, and all it does is shorten her robe at the bottom. Christ, I have to lock my knees to keep from falling over.
“Now is not a good time,” she snaps and tries to close the door.
Before she can do it, I put my foot against it to stop her. “Fair enough, I’ll just come inside and eat, and we don’t have to discuss the Fall Festival.”
“What? No.” She finally looks down at my hands and sees what I’m holding. “Is that from Rosebriar?”
I hold it up so she can get a good look at the bag. “It is. I thought since you didn’t come to my office, I could pick up something to eat while we talk. But if you’d rather I go—”
“Wait.” She bites her bottom lip then looks down at the bag of food again. She’s conflicted on kicking me out without having seeing what I’ve brought.
“It's a shame they’re only open one day a week and it’s such a long drive from here…” I shrug. “I can always take this home and—”
“Come in,” she snaps and pushes the door open. “Give me a second.”
“Take your time,” I call out after her as she hurries down the hall to what I can only assume is her bedroom. I definitely didn’t watch her ass bounce as she does it.
Once I’m inside her place, I put the food on the kitchen counter and glance around. The inside isn’t much better than the outside, but I can see she’s decorated the old building as best as she can. It’s clean and smells like apple cider, and somehow it feels cozy. She has a small living room with an open kitchen connected to it. There’s an old couch, piles of blankets, and a coffee table covered in books. Walking toward the hallway she darted down, I see there’s only one door. I’m assuming the bathroom is back there in her bedroom. Looking around the room, I check out all her framed photos and pictures of her when she was young. There’s one where she’s blowing out birthday candles on a cake that has a Barbie sticking out of it.
“Okay, what did you want to talk about?” she asks as she walks past me and into the kitchen.
She’s wearing a soft pink tracksuit, and her face is clean and fresh looking. Her hair is still wet, and I have the urge to lean into it and inhale her scent. I want to know where that sweet smell of apples is coming from.
“You want your traditional festival to take place, and I can see why. But I’ve got a few ideas for something new. We have a couple of towns around us that are close enough to come for the day, yet we don’t entice them to come.”
When I say the last few words, her eyes go to my mouth. Her cheeks blush, and I wonder if she’s thinking they sounded a lot dirtier than I intended them to. Oh well, sometimes there are happy accidents.
Valerie pulls down two plates from the cabinet and places them on the small bar. Even the plates are mismatched, with delicate flowers on them. I pull out the little stool she’s got next to the bar and sit down. She doesn’t look at me as she moves around the kitchen and serves the roasted chicken Rosebriar is famous for.
“How long have you lived in this apartment?” I ask.
“Since I got back home.”
“Hmm.” I nod. I already knew, that but it’s nice to confirm. “You didn’t want to move back home?”
“What?” She laughs and shakes her head. “No, I like my space.”
“And you’re an only child?” Again I know this, but I like hearing her talk.
“I am, but I think you knew that.”
She’s a smart girl.
“Sweet tea?” she asks me, and I nod. She pours two glasses and then takes a seat on the stool beside mine.
The whole place can’t be more than five hundred square feet, but even in something ten times this size, I’d still feel her heat next to me.
“Hungry?” I ask, and I can’t help it when my eyes drift to her mouth. Her full pouty lips and the dimple on the side of her cheek make me want to kiss her.
For one quick second, her eyes travel down my suit, and I have the urge to pull her against me. This sharp-tongued woman has driven me mad from the moment I met her, and I can’t say I don’t like riling her up. When she’s mad at me it gets me so fucking hard, and all I can think about is pushing her against a wall and kissing her until she softens.