The feelings and memories urged him to get his naked ass out of bed and into the shower with her. If only he hadn’t heard the telltale sound of the lock shutting him out.

So instead he covered his naked ass with a clean pair of jeans and headed downstairs for some coffee. At least he didn’t run into the proprietress first thing—which was good for her. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with Gladys before getting in a good shot of caffeine. The breakfast room was empty, though there were pans of fresh rolls and biscuits on the sideboard, and the dark smell of his favorite breakfast brew permeated the room.

The hot black coffee distracted him from what he would say to Sadie when she appeared, what he would do from this point onward.

Her agreement with the Blackstones meant he couldn’t ignore her, couldn’t get away. She hadn’t been the clingy type—now or in the past. But he could honestly say this wasn’t a situation he was used to being in with women.


His relationships since he’d been home from the air force had been few and far between. They weren’t really relationships, per se. Life had been too full of obligations and change to indulge in something that required that level of commitment—and he’d never felt the urge for more than a good time.

Except with Sadie.

A flicker of movement in his peripheral vision had him looking to the doorway. Sadie straightened her gray sweater, smoothing it down over jeans-clad hips in the barest flicker of nerves. Then she continued into the room and joined him at his table. Her smile was artificial, but it highlighted the bow curve of her upper lip—the same lip that had felt so soft and hungry beneath his own the night before.

“Are you hungry?” Sadie asked quietly, tentatively testing the waters. “Gladys’s husband makes some incredible cinnamon rolls.”

“I’m definitely not a man to turn down good food. My mama will testify to that,” he said.

She waved him back as he started to rise, so he watched as she filled two plates with rolls and some fruit. Then she lifted a large metal lid and the smell of meat filled the air. She added a couple of slices of bacon to his plate. She’d remembered. He was an avid bacon lover.

Had she learned that so well in the week they’d danced around each other before giving in to their passion?

She laid the plate before him in silence, then fixed her own cup of coffee, doctored with sugar and a liberal dose of cream. This was a natural rhythm that he’d noticed from her before. Just like at the mill, where efficiency in a large-scale task seemed routine for her, so he’d also found her to take charge of these little, everyday domestic tasks, too. Not in an overbearing way, but with a calm efficiency that matched her approach to life in general—at least, as far as Zach could tell.

And probably a way to make herself more comfortable around here.

After she was seated, she drew a long sip from the blue-glazed pottery mug. He munched on bacon, but theirs wasn’t a comfortable silence. He sensed Sadie wanted to say something, and wondered idly if he was facing the Dear John conversation he hadn’t been subjected to the last time. Odd how the thought bothered him.

He would have preferred not to care one way or another.

“I didn’t plan on that, you know,” she said, her usual quiet, even tone belying the anxiety with which she stared at her food.

“I know.” He noticed the slight puffiness along her upper cheekbone and the fresh bandage on her cheek.

She took another sip, her gaze still trained on her plate.

The least he could give her was honesty. “Neither did I. That wasn’t why I brought you home.”

Suddenly her gaze snapped up, and he found himself entranced by her brilliant green eyes. How could such a clear color hide so many secrets from him?

They both started as something heavy landed on the table. Zach had been so lost in their stilted conversation that he hadn’t noticed the approach of Gladys. He glanced up, sure his expression portrayed just how much he appreciated her intrusion.

“Why, Sadie, you didn’t mention you would have a visitor for...breakfast.”

The overly long pause told Zach that Gladys was fishing. She must not have noticed him making his way downstairs earlier—surprising for a woman who seemed to know everything.


Tags: Dani Wade Billionaire Romance
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