Page 37 of Hero Next Door

“Okay, so here we are.” I smile thinly. “Do you need a hand inside or anything like that?”

She turns to look at me, to stare at me dead on, and I can see something darting behind her eyes. “You’re my hero, Theo,” she suddenly blurts out. “You have saved me over and over again. I don’t know if I have said that to you yet, but you are. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. I appreciate every single thing that you have done for me.”

I can’t stop myself from beaming ear to ear. I have always wanted to be a hero which is why the work of a fire fighter appealed to me, but hearing those words come out of Esme’s mouth… well, they really mean something to me. I can feel them swimming through my system until they cling to my heart and that’s where they will stay.

“You are more than welcome, Esme. It hasn’t been any trouble at all. Anything that I can do to help you, I will.”

“I know and that’s what makes you such a good person, Theo. You are a really good man.” She reaches out and takes my hands in hers which bolts electricity to my core. “Thank you so much. You are truly wonderful.”

Our eyes lock for a while and all of the unsaid things swim between us. I hope that she can sense the adoration bursting from me, because she really has opened my eyes to a lot. I thought that I needed to lock myself away because of the way that Jane and me imploded, I thought that romance would be bad for me, but now… well now things are different. Esme has made me see that I don’t need to block everyone off to be happy. In fact, I know for sure now that being more open is the key to my happiness. I need to just see what could happen…

“You know what, I owe you dinner.” Esme nods and grins. “After everything that you have done for me, I need to make you something to eat. Plus, you cooked for me not so long ago so it’s time for me to repay the favor.”

“But you are exhausted.” I’m pleased that she wants me to stay, that she doesn’t seem ready to be without me as well, but I know that this has all drained her. “We can do that any time. You don’t need to worry about this now.”

“I want to.” She grabs on to my arm and tugs me hard. “I want to cook for you. You’re my hero.”

I can see from the way that Esme lights up that she isn’t going to let me get away with this. There isn’t much fight inside of me because I want to see her as well. So, I let Esme drag me inside her home, happy to go with her. Once I’m inside the building, I realize that this is the first time she has invited me in to eat with her. I’m given a glimpse in to Esme that I haven’t had before, but to be honest her house is an extension of her. I can see Esme’s personality bursting through the building. The stress of her job, the way she rushes around all the time, but her sweet side as well. It’s all here.

“I like your place,” I tell her warmly. “It’s nice. You have it looking really great.”

“Oh, it’s a state.” She waves her hand dismissively. “But I haven’t had a time to do anything in the house because of work. I guess that isn’t going to be an issue now, is it? Now that I am unemployed.” She laughs again but the chuckling soon fades away. “God, I’m really unemployed now. This is insane. I have to start hunting for a job. And what do I say when they ask why I left my last position? That’s going to be one hell of a story…”

“You can just say that the last company folded.” I shrug my shoulders. “There’s no need to tell the full tale.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true. Then it will also show a good reason why I don’t have a reference. But if this goes to trial then it might end up on the news. People might know my face then and I’ll struggle…”

“That will be a while.” I shrug my shoulders. “I’m sure you will have a job by then and once you are in the door and feeling more comfortable about everything then you can share your story. But he might plead guilty.”

“I can’t imagine that,” she tells me darkly. “I don’t think Mr. Jones thinks he’s guilty about anything. He has always turned things around and made me feel like I am the guilty one. He’s good at manipulation.”

“I won’t let him manipulate you ever again,” I growl in anger. “No way. He doesn’t have anything hanging over you now anyway, so there is no way for him to win. He had the job before, but he burned that to the ground.”

Tags: Mia Ford Romance