Page 13 of What Lies Beneath

He wasn’t surprised when she disappeared into the bedroom fairly early. She was probably exhausted after her first day out of the hospital. On top of the physical challenges, their talk had stirred up a lot of information that could be stressful to process. Dumping their past on her today was probably a mistake with her fragile condition, but she wanted honesty.

Given her nerves around him, he should probably sleep in the guest room tonight. It would make everyone more comfortable, and he could use the space to keep objective about all this.

With the apartment silent and dark, Will was able to focus on his work again. He finally shut down for the night near midnight. He would be up the next day by six, but those were standard hours for him. He could sleep when he was dead. Or retired. Whichever came first.

The next morning, he was up, dressed and having coffee by the time Cynthia stumbled into the kitchen. She was wearing navy silk pajamas under her robe, her hair pulled into a ponytail. Her eyes were still blurry and her face lined from a night of heavy sleep. The woman he knew would never let anyone, not even him, see her like this. She always emerged from the bedroom with her hair and makeup done. Will had to swallow his surprise in a large swig of coffee. He really needed to come to terms with Cynthia as a new person, but it was hard to change his every expectation of her.

“Good morning,” she said, gently rubbing her eyes.

“Morning,” he replied, getting up to refill his mug. “Would you like some coffee?”

“No,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “I tried some in the hospital and didn’t like it.”

Will returned to the table and slid a plate with a couple pieces of buttered whole-wheat toast toward her. He couldn’t stomach much more than that this early, but if he didn’t eat something, he’d never make it through the morning column reviews. “I made some toast. There’s tea and cocoa in the cabinet if you’re interested.”

Cynthia settled into one of the kitchen chairs and took a piece of toast from the plate. She seemed a lot more relaxed than she had last night, and Will was relieved. Perhaps some time alone in the apartment would help her adjust.

“I hate to leave so soon after you got up, but I need to get to the office. I’m going to try not to stay too late.”

“You work a lot,” she commented.

Will shrugged, rising from the table and putting his mug in the sink. “I do what I have to. Now, the maid should be here today around noon, so you won’t be alone. I asked her to make dinner so we don’t have to go out. She’s planning to go through all the classic recipes so you can try them. I think we’re up for pot roast tonight.”

“Okay.” She nodded, although her brow was wrinkled in confusion again.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“It feels weird to have someone cook and clean up after me. I guess it probably shouldn’t, but it does.”

“I’m sure you’ll adjust to the luxury of it in no time, especially once you try Anita’s eggplant parmesan. She’s truly gifted in the kitchen. If you need anything,” he said as he slipped into his suit coat, “call my cell phone. I’ve left you a list of numbers on the refrigerator, including your folks and some friends if you get lonely.”

“Thank you,” she said, standing up to see him out.

They walked to the front door, where he grabbed his laptop bag. “I’ll see you tonight.” On reflex, he started to lean in to give her a goodbye kiss. In that fraction of a second, he noticed her eyes widen and her body tense up. Given her reaction after yesterday’s kiss, it was probably a horrible idea, even as a casual goodbye. He stopped short, pulling back awkwardly, and instead threw up a hand to wave and darted out into the hallway.

Traveling down the elevator, Will could only shake his head. What the hell was he doing? He certainly wasn’t acting like a man on the verge of moving out. He was getting sucked in by her, like quicksand. The more he struggled, the more he was sure to sink.

It was better he get to the office as quickly as he could. At least there, he knew what he was doing.

* * *

Cynthia stared at the closed apartment door, more confused than ever. Her heart had fluttered in her chest when she thought he might kiss her. Their kiss the night before hadn’t really counted and just left her anxious for more. Will had set his hostility aside after their talk yesterday, but things were hardly on track for serious romance. She knew it was too soon for any of that. Kisses would only complicate things.

But that didn’t stop her from fantasizing about what his kisses would feel like or how his mouth would taste. When he leaned close to her, the scent of his spicy cologne was enough to send her pulse racing. It made her thankful she wasn’t still hooked up to hospital monitors that might give away her attraction to him.