Chapter Seventeen

IT’S THE KITCHEN,” I add when she touches on the third reason we can’t sleep together.

I missed the first two reasons she stated because I couldn’t stop being one of those guys who stares, the category I was just claiming to be excluded from. In my defense, she was fumbling over words strung together as excuses while adjusting her bra. It was hard not to stare at her soft tits pushing one way, then the other.

“The kitchen makes us crazy,” I say, then turn and crack two eggs into the bowl and stir them with a spoon.

If she doesn’t want me to kiss her, I won’t kiss her. The way my body aches for her can be ignored.

It can.

I’m pretty sure.

Nora watches me, looking pleased that I’m continuing with breakfast after all. I reach over and grab a third egg. When I oil the pan, she walks over and takes the milk jug from the counter. She adds at least a half cup more to the bowl and opens my silverware drawer. She grabs a fork and stirs the eggs with it. Her fork moves much quicker than my spoon and I back away, bowing slightly to her chef-ness.

She appreciates my gesture and laughs, although the rain outside nearly drowns out the sound. I wish it would stop so I could hear her cute laugh better.

Nora opens the top of one of the plastic containers of precut vegetables. She adds a handful of onions to the pan, then peppers, and waits to add the eggs. While she’s effortlessly outperforming me in the kitchen, she leans against the counter and looks at me.

“Tessa’s my friend, and if this gets too messy, it could ruin that.”

That was reason number four? Or maybe five?

“We have too much baggage, both of us,” she adds.

Seven, maybe eight if we count our scores separately?

“How many reasons do you have, ten?” I say lightly. “Or would you like to come on my run with me so you can finish telling me all of the reasons why we can’t be friends?”

“I wasn’t saying we couldn’t be friends. I was talking about all of this,” she says, and waves her hands around in front of herself.

I imagine her running beside me, listing off reasons word by word. I have a few, too; I’m just not as eager to say them as she is. She’s still waving between our bodies. I decide to fuck with her, just a little.

“The air? You mean the nitrogen and oxygen—”

Reaching her free hand over to me, she clamps it over my mouth and gives me a shut-the-fuck-up-you-adorable-bastard look that shoots through me like Cupid’s arrow.

Yikes, good thing I didn’t say that out loud.

“I meant the making-out. The heavy petting.” Her eyes glance over to my lips and stay there.

“I fail to see how petting animals is a problem—” I start, but the hand goes right back over my mouth.

“We can’t keep doing that and keep everything from getting out of control. Your ex is my roommate, she lives with me, she knows where I sleep.” She smiles, and I think she’s only half teasing. “I was only thinking we could take each other’s mind off of whatever baggage we had—Tessa told me about your breakup.”

Her eyes fill with sympathy . . .