No little five-year-old girl.
After closing the door, she followed him into the kitchen, tossing out the moldy cheese, and began to unpack the groceries he bought.
As she did, her stomach rumbled.
“How about I make you something to eat?” he asked.
“I’d like that. Would you mind if I, er, freshen up?”
“No, go ahead.”
He couldn’t be an ax murderer, could he? No guy with a young kid could kill anyone. She tried not to think of all the possible serial killers through time who had a family and a murdering hobby on the side.
Once she’d removed her clothes, she took a quick shower, changing into a pair of jeans and a large shirt. She dried her hair, running a brush through it, and didn’t even bother with makeup.
She stepped into the kitchen just as Eli served up.
“I’m pretty good at stir-fries. I hope you’re okay with that?”
“I don’t mind. I don’t have to cook so I don’t care.” She took the offered bowl from him, breathing in the scents. Her mouth watered, and she didn’t even bother with chopsticks, opting for a fork. “Come on, let’s relax.” She noticed he’d already opened a bottle of beer, and a soda for her.
They sat down on her sofa, and she didn’t put the television on, more focused on food.
“Do you work late most nights?” he asked.
“Nah, this is one of those days. They’ve got a case and they need all the help they can get.” She wrinkled her nose.
“Are you a budding lawyer?”
“Hell, no. I don’t like law. It’s way too complicated and full of … no, I’m not a lawyer.”
He laughed. “I don’t like lawyers either.”
“Have you dealt with plenty of them?”
“More than I ever want to do. I’ve got a whole team of them.”
“Oh, right. Katie mentioned how you own some kind of computer company,” she said.
“Software, but it’s close. It’s in computers. What is it you do?”
“Right now, I get coffee, research old cases in books, and pretty much do whatever I’m told to do so I can keep my job.” She shrugged. “I like this town. It’s why I moved here. After I left college, I did get an apprentice as an accountant.”
“It’s not what you want to do?” he asked.
“I don’t know what I want to do.” She did but she wasn’t about to tell him what she did late at night when she couldn’t sleep. Her stories were her hobby. They were also private. “I’ll figure it out. For the most part, working as a legal assistant isn’t so bad. The hours can suck, and the bosses can be assholes. I guess it’s like that at most places.”
“It’s a lot different from college, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah. I don’t even think they teach you in college how to deal with douchebags.” She shrugged. “I guess I will have to learn as I go.”
“Most college boys are. Just treat them like that and it’ll all be good. Most men are.”
She chuckled. “This is really good food. I had no idea you can cook.”
“Katie hasn’t been bragging about my skills. How do you think I feed her?”
“I don’t know, takeout?”
He wrinkled his nose. “I don’t do takeout. Hate the stuff.”
“Stir-fry is takeout food.”
“No, it’s home cooking, what I love.”
This was the first real conversation they’d had. Staring into his brown eyes, she nibbled on her lip, wondering if he would ever look at her the way she caught him doing in her door’s reflection a few weeks ago. She really needed to stop thinking about that. It wasn’t healthy. This guy was her neighbor and there was no way she would give in to the rumors she’d heard floating around. No one had come out and said it but after a little research, she had come to see their two houses were … cursed?
No, she didn’t think they were cursed. So the people who had each lived in this house and his had in some miraculous way found each other and were now totally in love. Sure, she believed that.
The houses didn’t control what a person felt or who they felt it for. There was just no way it could happen.
She finished her food and licked her lips, sated, full, and happy. Resting her hands on her stomach, she glanced at Eli to find him watching her. She smiled. “What’s up?”
“I was just wondering…”
“What made you decide to come live here? This town. I know my reasons for it, what are yours?”
“Have you seen this neighborhood and this house?” she asked. “There’s no way I would have ever been able to get a mortgage and I do make okay money as a legal assistant.” It was one of the reasons she’d moved to the town. She’d applied for her current position. Sure, she didn’t have a lot of money for anything else but she put all of her money into paying for this place every single month. “Believe me, starving aside, I’m doing okay. Also, this isn’t a bad neighborhood.”