She had been pinching her lip—a habit she seemed to have when she was thinking—and, watching her press her fingers into that cushion of flesh, he had felt a rush of too-predictable heat tighten his muscles.
It had been a shock to discover than he could still be so weak, so hungry for what was so obviously wrong for him, and he’d felt angry and frustrated with himself. Angry, too, with her, for exposing this weakness in him.
Maybe he had been a little brutal, but it wasn’t as if he was going to take her up on her offer. The idea was ludicrous.
Or was it?
Gazing over at Frankie, he pondered the question.
Perhaps, in a way, her working for him wasn’t such a bad idea, given the facts—which were that he had no idea how long the storm would take to blow itself out, and that Frankie would be here in the house with him until it did. Giving her a job would not just keep her out of mischief, it would put their relationship on a more formal footing and provide clear boundaries.
‘What did you mean by help?’ he asked slowly.
She stared at him mutely, then said, ‘If that’s your version of an apology you might want to do a little work on it.’
His eyes locked with hers. Apologise for what? She was in his office, uninvited—
With effort, he reined in his temper. Right now, there was enough turmoil outside—he didn’t need to add to it.
Unlocking his jaw, he took a breath. ‘I’m sorry for what I said.’
He waited as she shifted from one foot to the other, her expression guarded.
‘I’m sorry too,’ she said finally. ‘I shouldn’t have come into your office without asking. I wouldn’t have done, but your phone was ringing, and I thought it might be important.’
Her apology surprised him almost as much as her offer of help, and for a moment he wondered if he’d misjudged her. But it wasn’t easy to get his head around the idea that he might have been wrong—partly because he still thought she was inherently self-serving, and partly because it reminded him that he’d been so wrong about Harriet and was supposed to have learned and moved on from the experience.
Pushing that thought away, he nodded. ‘If the offer is still there, I’d like to take you up on it. You’d be doing me a favour,’ he added, when she didn’t reply.
‘I would have been, yes.’
‘You still could,’ he said carefully.
Her eyes widened. ‘So you can laugh at me again?’
‘I wouldn’t laugh—’
Glancing away, she shook her head again. ‘I’d be no use to you. Like you said, I’m only interested in the kind of ice that comes in a glass. I don’t know the first thing about vertical migration or hydrofracture.’
Vertical migration... Hydrofracture...
Arlo frowned. How the hell did she know about those? Unless—
‘You read my notebook.’
She gazed back at him, her chin jutting forward.
‘So what if I did? I’m not going to share it with my followers, if that’s what you’re worried about.’
‘No, I mean you can read my writing.’
She looked at him, confusion warring with curiosity, then shrugged. ‘My father was a doctor.’
Her tone told him that she was not entirely sure why she was telling him that fact.
‘Everyone thought his writing was illegible, but I grew up with it so...’
‘Is that why you offered to help me?’