Realizing I sounded like a moron, I can’t help but laugh, too. Unfortunately, that’s when I realize the movers are staring at her like she’s a siren straight out of Greek mythology, so my mirth is short lived. “Gentlemen.” I cut them a look, then send Addison the exact same one. “Goose.”

“Look out, boys.” Addison sways up the steps, removing the house key from a tiny, zippered compartment hidden in her running pants. “He’s flexing that mayor muscle now.”

“The inauguration isn’t for weeks,” I say, when she’s even with me on the porch. A sweaty strand of hair sticks to her neck and vaguely I wonder who saw her running. Men? Did they exchange words or a smile? The possibility makes me feel seasick, but I chalk it up to the hangover. “I’m just getting warmed up.”

“You’re going to be unbearable when it’s official.” She unlocks the door and pokes it open with a finger, throwing me a wink. “I take that back. You’re unbearable now.”

Relief settles in my stomach. Things are back to normal. Apart from the fact that she’s living in my house without me, that is. But if she was still out of shape over last night, she wouldn’t be poking fun at me just like always, would she? Truth be told, though…I’m not as relieved as I would have expected.

I follow her into the house, but come to a stop when I see a collection of cleaning supplies gathered just inside the foyer. “Lord almighty. Tell me you didn’t clean.”

“I didn’t clean?”

“You did.” I pinch the bridge of my nose. “This is an outrage.”

She wrinkles her nose as the movers lumber past with a couch. “I know this is going to come as a shock, but most people don’t have cleaning ladies. Don’t be dramatic.”

“I’m being dramatic? You changed residences in the middle of the night.”

“Now you’re stuck with a squatter.” She studies her nails. “This is why you never get in cars with strangers.”

“Now that’s dramatic,” I say, pointing at her. “And you’re not a squatter. You’re a guest.”

“Well, then.” She drops her hand and looks around. “The hospitable thing to do would be to give me a tour.”

“Haven’t you already taken an unguided one?”

“In the dark, yes. But I only poked my head into a couple rooms until I found a bed.” She smiles. “And before you ask, yes, I slept on a mattress with no sheets.”

“The hits just keep on coming,” I mutter. “All right, then, Miss Potts. Let’s start with the kitchen.”

“Aye aye, captain.” She clicks her heels together and salutes me. “Lead the way.”

When I pass her on the way to the room in question, I have the insane urge to pick her up and tickle her until she screams. But since day one, there has been an unspoken no-touching rule between us. Until last night. I’m determined to put this friendship back on solid ground, so the rule is back in effect, starting now. Ignoring my strangely itchy hands, I hold the swinging door open for her, my eyes straying back to that sweaty hair stuck to her neck as she passes. “Have you been in here yet?”

“No,” she whispers, coming to a stop. “I can’t believe you wanted to cook in my dinky little kitchen when you had this waiting for you.”

Frowning at her words, I regard the sun-drenched kitchen. Cream-colored cabinets, vintage fixtures, tiled backsplash. Marble-topped island, dark wood floors, stainless steel appliances. No denying it’s huge and almost over-the-top glamorous. Big enough to hold the members of a large catering company comfortably when we entertained. We. Naomi and I. Although, we never really spoke about entertaining, did we? It was just a given. Something our parents did and we would be expected to do. “Don’t be alarmed when you come home and the pantries and refrigerator are stocked. I’m appointing an intern as soon as I get to the office.”

She turns to me with an open mouth. “Elijah, no.”

“Addison, yes.”

“I’m moving back out.”

“Oh no. You’re staying put.” I escort her back out of the room. “This is what happens when you offer getaway rides to big, bossy southerners.”

“Don’t steal my jokes.”

My mouth twitches. “Downstairs would have been the billiard room. I’m guessing some kind of wine cellar that I never would have set foot in—”

“Why are you talking about everything like it’s past tense?” She stops me from climbing the stairs with a hand on my arm, but pulls back like she’s been shocked. “This is your home. All these plans you made don’t have to be thrown out like yesterday’s bath water.”

Discomfort climbs the back of my neck. “Are you saying you want a roommate?”

Her cheeks go pink, but she scoffs. “God, no. I came here to get a break from you.”

The impulse to pick her up is now twice as strong as before. Only instead of tickling her, I’d like to throw her down on these stairs and call her bluff. After her admissions last night, I know she likes having me around just fine. Loves it, if I recall correctly. The only thing that saves her is the movers. And that’s a scary thought. It’s scary that after last night, I’m noticing how the light makes her skin glow, how she says my name like a sigh. How tight her running pants are in the posterior. Pull it together. That’s what I tell myself, even as I search for a way to call her bluff without putting my hands on her. “If you want me to go, just say the word.”

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