“Not really, but it’s not like there’s a lot of food options here.”

“Your kitchen’s gorgeous, though.” She looks around in awe. Her pretty face pleased with it all. It makes me want to attack her lips and tell her it all belongs to her now.

Instead, I mutter, “Yeah, Morgan decorated it.”

“Morgan? An ex.” A thump in my chest loves the hint of jealousy in her voice. It’s unmistakable, and she realizes it.

I shake my head and then slide the garlic bread in the oven. “No, Boomer’s sister.”

“Oh. She’s an interior designer?” It’s an innocent question, but I wonder if she’s still insecure. There’s no reason for her to be bothered by any woman in Steeleville.

“No, I just figured she was the only one around with shit to do, so I asked her.”

“She doesn’t work?”

“Well, she’s starting to now. She’s going to open a cafe in town and is married to another Steele Rider,” I remark, straining the pot of noodles.

“Are you a Steele Rider?” I nod.

“Are you outlaws?”

I turn and crack a smile. “I’m a lawyer, sweetheart.”

“So that’s a yes.” The playfulness is back and even more of a turn on. Shit. I’m a lost soul.

“You’re a brat.” A giggle escapes her lips, and she shrugs slightly before bringing that damn can to her lips.

“Thanks.” She winks at me as she sets it down on the table, shamelessly flirting. I love it and hate it all at once. I go back to the stove and finish up the dinner without another word. I want to ask a million questions, but I can’t and shouldn’t be getting involved.

The timer goes off on the oven, and I pull out the perfectly toasted garlic bread. “Dinner is done.”

“Wonderful.” She stands to lend a hand with the dishes. We’re close enough that I used the closeness as an excuse to steal a simple touch. Her arm brushes against mine and my cock jerks in my pants like I’m a teenaged boy getting my first touch of a girl. Holy hell, I’m a fucking creep.

We sit down in companionable silence for a few minutes as I watch her slide the fork past her lips. “So I want you to know that regardless of what happens, you’re safe here. I’m not going to let anyone get to you. Okay?”

“Yes.” Disbelief crosses her face.

I lean forward and sincerely say, “I promise you’re safe. I’d do anything to keep you safe.”

“I don’t think I’m safe from you,” she confesses.

I sit back, taking in what she said because she’s right and wrong. I don’t plan to give in to the lust-filled passion clouding my brain, but if she says the word, I’ll devour her. “You are. Until the day you tell me that you want me to strip you bare and lick you from head to toe.”

“See. It’s talk like that. It’s…”

“It’s what? Frightening you.” Shit, I don’t want to scare her away.

She looks up at me, biting at the edge of her bottom lip, and then whispers, “No. It’s tempting.”

“You’re a walking felony, Mary.”

“I’m actually legal.”

“I know.” I let out a disappointed sigh and then set down my fork. “I’m done eating. Are you?”

“Yes.” She stands, taking her plate and reaching for mine, but I get up as well, no longer ashamed of the fact that my cock refuses to go down. “Wow,” she whispers.

“Yeah, well, you know where I stand, and so does he, so we can just pretend that it’s not there.” Her existence is my own aphrodisiac.

“It’s kind of really hard to miss.”

“Tell me about it.” I set my plate in the sink and then adjust my bulge, so it’s not ripping through my zipper.

“I’ll wash the dishes,” she offers, but she has no idea what little will power I have at the moment. She’s not opposed to the attraction between us. If she wasn’t under my protective custody, she’d be under me right now, crying out my name.

“No, don’t do them. I’ll take care of it. Get some sleep. You’ve been through a lot today.”

“Thank you,” she says, stepping up on her tippy toes, placing a kiss on my cheek. It takes all of my strength to not turn and drag her in for a real kiss. She leaves the room, and I feel like I can breathe again.

I make quick work of the kitchen cleaning. It’s one of the many things I learned at boarding school, and I’ve always made sure things were clean to avoid punishment, now it’s just who I am, but at least I’m quick at it.

Once it’s done, I turn off the light and remember the towels. I go in to change them only to find, Mary bent over, halfway inside the washer, digging out the towels. I let out a low growl. “I’m starting to think you’re intentionally trying to destroy my control.”

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