“You always think of everything.”
“It’s the businessman in me. I have to make sure I’m one step ahead of the game.”
“Is that what you are?” she asked. “Always one step ahead?”
“Yep.” He winked at her. “Now, how about I cook us up some pasta?”
Her stomach rumbled and he laughed. “Pasta it is.” There was no way his smirk could be sexy, but it was.
“I bet it’s hard on these nights, right?” she said. “You know, without Katie.”
“It can be. I love my daughter a great deal but having some me time is much needed. Have you ever thought about having kids?” he asked.
She giggled. “Don’t worry.” She saw his horrified look. “I won’t see that as a curious question into dating. I’ve got my feet firmly on the ground and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”
Eli didn’t know what it was about her. The truth was he’d never been curious about what a woman wanted or didn’t. This was indeed a first for him as well, and he wasn’t sure if he liked it.
Women weren’t in his future.
A bed partner was.
Now, all his decisions had to include his little girl. If he was completely honest, being around Ann wasn’t really a good idea.
She was the neighbor and well, he had responsibilities that extended beyond fucking the woman who lived next door.
If she got pissed off, this could hurt his little girl. Rather than dwelling on his fuckup though, he pushed all his worries to the back of his mind. He didn’t need them. Far from it. Ann didn’t seem like the kind of woman to come up against him and hurt him or his child if she didn’t get what she wanted.
He got to work making Alfredo sauce for the pasta, taking out all the necessary ingredients he needed.
Every now and then, he glanced over at Ann, watching her as she stared at him.
“How are you feeling?”
“Oh, you mean about my, er, you know…”
“I don’t know how you can do that,” she said.
“Be like a dad one minute and this dirty-talking man the next.”
He winked at her. “It takes a hell of a lot of practice but it can also be really fun. I like to surprise you.” He chuckled as her cheeks started to heat.
“I don’t think I can ever get used to it.”
“Well, I won’t talk to you like that around Katie, if you’re worried, unless I whisper. I have no interest in my daughter dating, or you know, becoming a teenager.”
She laughed. “What do you think you’d do if she was the kind of teenager to talk back, and sneak out at night, or even smoke?”
“Ah, you see, I’ve got ways to deal with that.”
“Hell, yeah, first you take away their funding. Credit card pleasures will cease. That will be one of the first punishments.”
“Wow, she has her own credit card?”
“Not yet, but when the time is right, I want her to taste independence. I’ll be there all the time, so it won’t be real, but she can learn money, and how to deal with it. That kind of thing. Then of course taking away all of her privileges.”
“I’ve got to ask, were you a good kid or something?”
“Me, hell, no. I was a nightmare. There was nothing good about me.” He winked at her. “Looking back, I sometimes wonder how my parents didn’t kill me. I was a horrible kid. I would go out late. I didn’t have a cell phone back then, so no way of getting in touch with me. Dad would come cruising around the streets looking for me.”
“And who would have thought it, the rebel kid turned into such an astute businessman.”
“Not me, that’s for sure. I don’t know. I guess some kids have this rebellious stage.” He shrugged. “I’ve got no doubt Katie’s going to give me a run for my money, and she’s a female. I’m going to have to get a shotgun ready for the men who are going to want to date her. I’ve already started to take shooting lessons.”
“But you don’t have a gun yet?”
“No gun. I figured being able to shoot accurately would be best.” He finished their pasta and served it up on two plates. There was a lot of it, but he figured she needed some sustenance.
“I think that is the most ideal.” She followed him into the sitting room. He waited for her to sit before handing her a bowl.
She took it, saying thank you. “This is really, really good.”
He watched her take another bite, close her eyes, and then another before opening them. “You haven’t poisoned it, have you?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No, not even close.”
She smirked. “Sorry, I figure I should ask, just in case.”
“Don’t worry. I haven’t done anything stupid like that. I know what I’m going to be wanting again and again.” He squeezed her thigh and he heard her gasp.