Especially considering how sweet he’d been about her sister last Friday night. When he’d learned that Kerry had a Friday night wedding, he’d offered to do any Friday night bar pickups if she needed them. Fortunately, Colleen had to fill in at work that night, so neither of them had needed to worry about her getting into trouble at a seedy bar.
Kerry and Adam didn’t have plans to meet again until the following night, but she couldn’t resist calling him with the good news. Could barely even wait to get out of the realty office to dial his number from just outside the building, standing on the sidewalk in sunshine that felt just as warm and happy as she did inside.
“The house is mine! I just finished signing all the papers.”
“That’s great news. I’m so happy for you.” But just from the way he’d said her name, she would have known he felt that way without him needing to say anything more. “Let me steal you away for lunch today.”
“I have a meeting in a few minutes, and another couple this afternoon, but I’m pretty sure I could meet you for an hour at noon.”
“Meet me at the house.”
“The house? The one I just bought?”
He was laughing as he said, “That’s the one. See you at noon.”
* * *
As Kerry got out of her car, she was surprised to find Adam sitting with his back against the old oak tree on a big blanket, a picnic basket beside him.
When he caught sight of her, he quickly stood and pulled her into his arms. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you.” She kissed him then, and it was so natural. So sweet, in fact, that she didn’t stop kissing him for a quite a while.
“If I’m going to get a kiss like that every time you buy a house,” he said when they finally stopped kissing, “I’m going to ask my Realtor sister to show you a few more.”
She laughed, but didn’t move out of his arms. “I’m good with this one, thanks. Although the truth is that you’re probably the only person on the planet who would congratulate me for buying this house.” Not to mention the only one she wanted to celebrate with beneath the big oak tree.
He pulled a champagne bottle from the basket and popped the cork, which went flying off into the mess of the yard that, thankfully, was now all hers to deal with. It wasn’t until he began to pour it that she realized it wasn’t champagne. It was sparkling apple juice.
“I almost brought champagne,” he told her when he caught her surprised expression, “but I thought it would be more fun for our picnic to be more like the ones you had when you were a kid.”
“Oh, Adam.” Her heart felt so full, almost overwhelmingly so. “Apple juice is perfect.”
He held out his glass. “To your new home—and to the two of us bringing it back to its former glory together.”
“I can’t wait,” she said as she clinked her glass against his.
They both sat on the blanket, and even though she hadn’t been to a picnic since she was a little girl, it felt perfectly natural to sit beside Adam and look up into the beautiful branches of the tree that was even more majestic now than it had been twenty years ago.
She should have known that Adam wasn’t done with his surprises as he began to pull out grilled cheese and PBJ and apple slices, all things she guessed he’d probably had on picnics as a kid. But they didn’t look like something a deli would have put together.
“Did you make us these sandwiches?”
“I may not be a great cook, but I’ve always known my way around a sandwich.”
She knew exactly how busy Adam’s schedule was. He wasn’t just one of the most highly sought-after architects in Seattle—his notoriety was international, with clients from every corner of the world beating down his door to get him to work with them.
And yet, he’d taken the time today to make sandwiches for their impromptu picnic.
Kerry immediately thought about her mother, wishing she could see how wonderful a friend Adam was. Although, surely her mother would read more into this picnic than was actually there, so it was probably for the best that she didn’t know about it.
“The sandwiches look delicious,” Kerry said, and when she took a bite of one, she realized he hadn’t been exaggerating his sandwich-making prowess. “I didn’t know peanut butter and jelly could be this good. What’s your secret?”
He grinned at her. “Secrets have to be earned.”
She grinned back, easily guessing the kind of payment he was looking for as she brought her mouth back to his again. She’d take any excuse to kiss him.
“Time to hand over your secret now.”
But he just stared at her lips and said, “Secret?”
Loving being able to scramble his brain with her kisses, she laughed and reminded him, “Your PBJ-making secret.”
He finally dragged his gaze—dark and full of desire—from her mouth. “I grind up the nuts myself. And more than just one kind of nut.”
“Clearly, your genius isn’t only in working with buildings.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were worried about inflating my ego.”
“That was before.”
The first thing that came into her head was Before you made my world go topsy-turvy. But she said, instead, “Before I realized just how modest you really are.”
He shook his head, laughing. “I’m not modest.”
This time she was the one raising her eyebrow. “Any other architect of your stature would take every possible chance to remind the people around him of just how important he is and how ridiculously lucky they are to get to work with him. But instead of doing any of that, you’re here having a picnic with me in front of a house that isn’t grand enough to deserve even an hour of your attention, let alone several months.”
“Grand is overrated.”
Knowing that she was embarrassing him with her compliments, she turned her gaze to the house. “It’s hard to believe it’s mine now.” She couldn’t remember ever feeling this happy before.
“I wish I could have seen the Realtor’s face when you said you wanted to buy it,” he said with a grin. “Did you tell them you’re planning to keep the house, rather than tear it down?”
“They practically said, Are you sure you really want this place? They didn’t even try to negotiate. Clearly, they wanted to take my money and run before I changed my mind.” She shook her head. “If only they knew that I had no intention of changing my mind, because this is where I’m meant to be.”
“I agree,” he said in a serious voice. “I mean, your current place is great, and I should know because I worked on renovating the building. But this house, this property, this neighborhood—it’s all really you. Exactly where you’re meant to be.”
This rambling old house would never be the fancy, glossy, expensive place in the “right” part of town. But somehow this street with kids riding by on their bikes and moms pushing strollers and gray-haired women watering flowers in the front yard was really her in a way that nothing else had ever been.
She took in a deep breath of the air, sweet-smelling from the wallflowers in bloom along the side of the property, then took another bite of her delicious sandwich. She was washing it down with a sip of sparkling juice when he asked, “How were your weddings this weekend?”