Narrowing her eyes at him, she said, “Did you just try to make another joke?”

“Perhaps,” he said, his gaze roaming around her kitchen. Assessing and weighing everything he found it seemed.

“Are you allergic to anything, besides people and good manners?” She almost smacked her hand over her mouth.

A smile quirked his lips. He unbuttoned his coat and shrugged out of it, hanging it on a hook beside hers. “No.”

“And your bodyguards?” Two men stood like sentinels on either side of her front door. Whether they scared off any day-before-New-Year’s-Eve customers remained to be seen.

“They won’t be joining us.”

Grabbing two aprons, she handed one to him and tied the other around her waist. What a contrast between the faded apron and fine suit he wore. Oh my mercy, she thought, he still had on his suit jacket. “You might want to take off that, too. Maybe roll up your sleeves.”

“Plan on getting down and dirty, darling?” he asked in that accented voice of his, once again removing more clothes and bringing back the raging lust and wobbly knees.

She washed her hands and dried them. “Uh…no.” That really wasn’t a question he needed to be asking her, mostly because it should be a statement of fact. God help her if he ever took off all his clothes in front of her. She was liable to burst into flames and go all gooey inside, like a roasted marshmallow. “Wash your hands, too, please.”

Wordlessly, she began sorting the supplies they would need. Something simple and hearty would be good. Maybe turkey with avocado slices. There was yesterday’s chicken rice soup that could be reheated, enough remained of it for the two of them to share.

Sebastian moved closer, standing behind her. “What shall I do first?”

Grabbing a breast of turkey, she plopped it down in front of her. “Cut this into thick slices, please.”

His arms came around her, settling on each side of the cutting board. “Show me how thick…please.” He selected a knife from the stand and held it out to her.

“Like this.” Taking the knife, she sliced through the meat. Just as she began to set the knife down, his large hand covered hers.

“Again…please,” he murmured in her ear. He had to stop with those pleases. Those pleases with that voice…a total recipe for her undoing. “I want to make sure it’s perfect for you.”

Muscle memory kept her from totally losing her composure as his skin, hot and smooth, caressed hers. They moved together, the knife an extension of them. “Almost an inch thick, that way it’s still juicy and tender when you bite into it.”

“Hmm.” His lips brushed the lobe of her ear. “And the avocado? I’m rather afraid I need more guidance before tackling that on my own. Please.”

Could she hire him as permanent help? They could prepare everything like this, hand to hand, back to front, his voice in her ear and his mouth on her skin. Yeah, her lady parts were all for that.

Her lady parts were out of their mind.

Flexing her fingers under his, she dropped the knife. “You’ll manage.” She ducked under his arm and almost ran to the freezer. Nothing she needed was in there, except the cold air. A cold shower would be better, but she would work with what she had.

What a day this had turned into. She leaned against the door.

Four years to the day, her mother’s passing still made her heart ache. Still served to remind her that she was alone. Then he had walked in again, all beautiful and cold. And practically giddy over her desserts this time

She couldn’t help but smile and tease him.

Sometimes, there were people you met and BAM!—instant connection (even if it did take a second meeting). Not love at first sight or this is my soul mate. Just…this person makes me feel something other than loneliness. Or sorry for myself. Based on what she’d read about Sebastian on the internet, he was more alone than she was.

An estranged brother, an indifferent cousin, and a seriously evil father in the hospital. Not to mention his mother. However, Sebastian wasn’t exactly a saint. He maneuvered, bought, and sold companies like they were part of a Monopoly set. Then there were the rumors of the Russian Mafia connection, and of his family’s English title being bought from the rightful heirs.

Don’t even get her started about all the women he’d been rumored to have been with—socialites, princesses, and models. All accused him of being scorching hot in the bedroom and cold as Antarctica everywhere else. His response to it all—absolutely nothing. He neither denied nor confirmed.

It was almost gentlemanly.

She blinked. Maybe she should stop reading those gossip sites. Who knew if any of it was true?

“All done, Daisy,” he called out. He sounded happy, maybe even a little proud, while she felt lower than low dwelling on his personal life. One he wasn’t choosing to share with her or anyone else.

“I’m getting the soup.” Hurrying to the refrigerator, she searched the second shelf and found the plastic container. Prying off the lid, she placed the container in the microwave, set the time, and pressed start.

Her thoughts drifted back to the scorching hot in the bedroom comments. Now that she could believe. She sighed. But really, she couldn’t be too hard on herself for thinking about him like that. Going without sex for two months straight tended to make a woman a little grouchy. Oh, who was she kidding? She was horny as all get out and taking things into her own hands sucked.

Tracing the collar of her cardigan, she let her mind go to all sorts of dirty places involving one viscount, a tub of warm chocolate, and her. She could spread it on his—

“Your thoughts,” Sebastian said, appearing out of nowhere and making her jump.

“My what?” Heat rising to her cheeks, she concentrated on the countdown currently underway and thanked God that only fifteen seconds remained. With ten seconds remaining, she looked up.

He edged closer. “I brought my work with me.” Holding out a plate filled with slices of cheese, bread, turkey, and avocado, he bit the side of his lip. “So…your thoughts.”

I think I should strip you naked and have my way with you. The microwave dinged. “Uh…ah.” She bent her head, studying the plate. “Great job.” She meant it. He’d cut almost every piece as thick as she had shown him. Looking up, she smiled at him. “You’re very handy with a knife, practically a natural.”

Something gleamed in his pale blue eyes. “Thank you.” He set the plate down. “I’ll get bowls for the soup, shall I?”