Ah yes—Chris’s reason for not using the garage. Cassie’s grin dimmed. “I can get dressed and come help.”
“Nah, I’ve got it. Feels kinda good to do some manual labor.” He grabbed the shovel once more and scooped up another heap. “Go on in and stay warm. I’ll take a break in a little while.”
He actually didn’t mind clearing the drive by himself? Cassie blinked. Surely he was just being polite. Chris, and Clinton, and her neighbors to the west side, all despised her poorly designed driveway.
Her hesitation must have shown through, because Brad paused again to give her a grin. “Hey, at least we don’t have to clear the cars right? By the way, do you have any de-icer? There’s a layer of ice beneath this snow. I’m not sure the tires will grab.”
“I…have no idea. Clinton put in a new walk last year that’s heated. I never use the garage.”
Brad cocked a curious eyebrow but turned back to the snow without voicing whatever question ran through his head. Probably better that he hadn’t asked; she still wasn’t comfortable with admitting all the things she had last night. He didn’t need to hear another example of how she’d caved to Chris’s good, but poorly executed intentions.
“I’ll keep the coffee hot.” She turned to leave, then stopped. “You sure you’re okay doing that? I really don’t mind helping.”
“I’m good. Honest.” As if to emphasize his point, he heaved another heavy shovelful away.
Maybe for now, but in another hour or so, she’d be willing to bet he’d be swearing. Though she had to admit the idea he might actually enjoy the chore filled her with an odd sense of delight. If things were different, if he weren’t a temporary pleasure, she could get very comfortable with him hanging around.
A heavy weight pressed around her ribs. She was falling for this guy who’d broken down her barriers, shown her the beauty of irrational passion, and embraced her secret yearnings. He fit her. And no matter how she might like to keep him around, the brutal truth remained, she would have to let him go.
She only hoped that when he left, he didn’t take too much of her along with him.
Tired and body sore, Brad sat before the dimming fire, watching Cassie sleep. She lay curled on the blanket in front of the hearth, still dressed in her terry cloth robe, a handful of papers strewn before her fingertips. The pen she’d been writing with still rested in her hand. Her folder lay open beside her elbow.
The sight of her sleeping so peacefully intensified the strange internal warmth that had kept him shoveling snow long after the cold sank into his bones. He refused to analyze that strange contented heat. Just as he’d been refusing to consider its source for the better part of the afternoon. He’d known her two days. Attachments couldn’t form that quickly.
Pushing aside the thought, he resisted the urge to stretch out at her side and rouse her into wakefulness. He’d like nothing better than to roll her over, pull apart those fuzzy lapels, and burn off the icicles in his bloodstream until he purged her from his system. Instead, he moved to his briefcase and picked up a fat folder. He’d need to check in with Miles via email later tonight. Gut suspicion warned him Cassie might legitimately be on to something regarding Miles’ claims. But right now, he’d take advantage of his commitment to let Cassie rest and think through a logical, rational agreement both clients might find acceptable.
Hell, he hadn’t even considered this damn case since he’d walked in Cassie’s door last night, and that bothered him more than his inability to control his desire. Work had to come first. Each hour he billed put him one more closer to the two hundred necessary for partner status. He could goof off and laze away with beautiful women after he’d achieved that goal.
He thumbed through his notes, searched his memory for terms he’d negotiated in previous, complicated situations. But his thoughts kept drifting. What if Miles hadn’t made up the claims? What if Miles didn’t want to drag his daughter into a gruesome process of discovery, backed off, and Brad negotiated terms that put a child in direct contact with a predator?