Kady’s jaw dropped once more. Maybe she was reading him wrong, but wasn’t he basically saying…
“I especially enjoy seeing you blush and trip—”
“Are you basically admitting to being a bully?” she blurted out.
Slade’s broad shoulders moved in a lazy shrug as he drawled, “I suppose I am, but…” Devilish amusement only served to turn her boss’ eyes a more mesmerizing shade of blue. “I’m only like this with you, sweetheart.”
“Only with…me?” Kady couldn’t tell if she was being complimented or insulted.
“I’m afraid so.”
“Because you’re different,” he agreed.
“So if I try…acting like one of the other waitresses…”
The billionaire grinned, having no difficulty understanding the direction her thoughts had taken. “You could try,” he acknowledged, “but you’ll only be wasting your efforts. You’ll be fantastically bad at playing the tart—”
“You don’t know that,” Kady interrupted, just because she felt the need to defend herself.
“Ah, but I do, little chick. And you know why?”
She shot him a wary look. “Why?”
“Because you’re not the type to flirt with someone you don’t want,” he pointed out dryly. “And I can tell, you know. You don’t want me that way—” And in the blink of an eye, Slade suddenly leaned close, leaving her no chance to rear back as he whispered straight into her ear, “Yet.”
Kady nearly fell out of the couch, and the billionaire laughed at the way she practically gobbled down the rest of her sandwich and excused herself the moment he pulled back.
“What was that?”
Kady gave up trying to be coherent. “Good night, Mr. Wyndham.” She could barely hear her voice over the wild, hard thumping of her heartbeat and tripped twice in her rush to leave the office.
Slade leaned back in his seat as the door slammed shut. As galling as the truth was to admit, he hadn’t been lying earlier when he told Kady he knew she didn’t want him that way yet. Even with the way her breath caught or how her body moved restlessly in his presence, the billionaire knew it all amounted to Kady simply being nervous.
And the truth was damnably easy to tell, with her eyes never once begging him to kiss her every time their gazes met.
After finishing the rest of his sandwich, the billionaire got to his feet and was about to clean up when he felt his phone vibrate inside his pocket. Pulling it out, he saw that a new text from an unidentified number had arrived at his inbox.
I love you so much. I know you know who I am. And shouldn’t that tell you something?
Slade’s jaw hardened.
He did know, and it did tell him something.
But it wasn’t what she was hoping for.
* * *
“Surprises are foolish things.” ~ Jane Austen
* * *
Kady was able to breathe a little more easily over the weekend, with Slade having to fly out of town for another meeting. For a small cafe owner, the man seemed to have so much money to burn on airfare, and Kady wondered if perhaps he was some kind of in-demand barista that wealthy people all over the country wanted to work with.
For Sunday brunch, Farica decided it was time to let Kady spread her wings a little and let the younger girl meet guests on her own. Seeing how shy Kady was, Farica had spent the past few days physically keeping her company every time a new guest came in. While their new waitress did extremely well entertaining women and kids, her tongue seemed to instantly tie itself in knots the moment any good-looking guy would come in.
And unfortunately for Kady, the ratio of attractive and unattractive men in Hartland was…well…1:0.
Farica flashed the girl a thumbs-up sign as she saw Kady literally exercising her jaw to move. “You can do this,” she said encouragingly. “You just have to smile and be yourself. That’s all. Okay?”
“You can do this.”
“I can do this.”
“Then go get ’em.”
“I’ll go get ’em.”
But when the other girl only stood there, Farica had to swallow back a laugh and point towards the cafe, saying meaningfully, “Like, um, now?”
Kady turned red. Oops. She quickly turned and bumped into the counter right away. Double oops. But even as she felt her nerves starting to fray, she made herself move towards the first occupied table, telling herself all the while, I can do this. I can TOTALLY do this.
Granted, Hartland’s local community seemed populated by genetically blessed individuals, but so what?
Farica had told her to smile and just be herself.
She could do that, right?
But the moment Kady arrived at the table where the Blackwood twins were seated, and she started forcing her lips to move, she could feel her mouth contorting into something else.
A hush of silence gradually fell over the crowd as everyone saw the way Kady’s face was slowly transforming.
Oh my, Farica thought. She blinked, and then she blinked and blinked again. She’d really like to think that was a smile on the other girl’s face, but it kinda…well…