“It’s about last night,” he said as they stepped into the elevator. When she frowned up in adorable confusion at him he added, “About the kiss,” he said, knowing it was for the best to get it over with, but hating that he was about to hurt her. Maybe they should return to her room for this talk. He didn’t want his little recluse embarrassed when she broke out in tears.
“What about it?” she asked, looking so damn pretty at that moment that all he could think about was kissing her, but that would just send the wrong message.
“I just wanted to make sure that you understood why I did it,” he said, inwardly wincing when she smiled. Oh god, did she expect a declaration of love?
That would never happen. Maybe they should go upstairs after all, he thought just as the elevator doors opened to the lobby.
“I know why you did it and I should thank you. That was really sweet, Nick.
You’re a good friend,” she said, reaching out and giving his arm a quick squeeze.
For a moment he could only stare after her as she walked across the lobby. It took the elevator doors shutting to snap him out of his shock. That was it?
Seriously? He’d given her, her very first kiss and it meant nothing to her, he thought with disgust as he shoved the doors open and went after her.
It didn’t mean anything to her? Well, that was fine because it meant less than nothing to him. He was relieved, glad even, that she didn’t misconstrue that kiss to mean more than it really was. As long as they were both on the same page then everything was fine, just f**king peachy.
“Are you okay?” she asked as she took her water from Nick.
“Peachy,” he said tightly.
“You wouldn’t be so crabby if you’d eaten breakfast,” she pointed out quietly as he glared down at her.
“I am not cranky,” he bit out, narrowing his eyes on her.
“No, of course not. My mistake,” she said, barely managing to bite back a smile as that glare intensified. When she started to think of his glares as cute she didn’t know, but they were. It really had been silly to be intimidated by this man.
He might come off as a jerk, but he really was a big sweetie pie.
“Damn straight,” he said, running his eyes over the large crowd that had gathered to meet her. The bookstore manager had booked them for only three hours, but she had a feeling they wouldn’t be getting out of here until after dinner time.
“Do you think we could do something off the list tonight?” she asked, trying not to sound too eager, but it was difficult. She’d wanted to do this for years, but never had the guts to try. Now that she had Nick she was excited to go for it.
“Which list?” Was his voice hoarser than a minute ago? She wondered if he was getting sick. If he was they would have to put off her plans for another night.
She’d be disappointed, but she’d get over it.
“The original list,” she said, stepping out of the way as one of the cashiers carrying a large cardboard sign with a picture of her books on it walked past her.
“Oh,” he said, looking a little disappointed.
Well of course he was disappointed, she realized, feeling like an idiot. He hadn’t been with a woman since this tour started and was probably hoping that they’d hit a bar or a club so that he could rectify that. The realization that he wanted to be with another woman hurt so she shoved the thought away, knowing that it wouldn’t do her any good to wish things were different.
They were two completely different people and nothing she said or did would ever change that. When this was all over she doubted that she’d see very much of him. Maybe they’d share a laugh while they waited for the elevator together, but she doubted there would ever be anything more than that. Right now she was going to focus on what they did have, a friendship of sorts.
When the manager, a short woman with thick glasses and a nervous smile, removed the red ribbon that kept the people in the line forming in front of the small table they set up for her Nick pulled her chair out and gestured for her to sit down.
Biting her lip, she did just that, hoping that the large breakfast she ate before coming here would help settle her nerves.
She’d been doing this for about a month now and although she thought she was improving with making small talk with her readers and not freaking out, it was still stressful for her. The only times she found herself relaxing was when Nick was close by. Thankfully he’d been staying closer the past couple of weeks, probably to make sure that she didn’t scare off the fans, she thought as she sat down and took a quick sip of water. Out of the corner of her eye she watched as Nick spoke to the bookstore manager, but was thankfully still close enough that she didn’t feel like panicking.
Six hours later everything was still fine. Thankfully Nick wasn’t too far away and the fans had been great. A few made her nervous, but that was mostly because they treated her like a freak of nature. Okay, maybe freak of nature was a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how she felt when they wouldn’t stop gushing and going on and on about how excited they were to meet her. It was flattering, but it also made her really nervous. She preferred it when her readers didn’t make a big deal out of meeting her. She liked meeting them and hearing what they had to say about her books, but the gushing was a little unnerving. Several times Nick had to step in and calmly get the over-enthusiastic fan to move along.
As she said goodbye to the sweet woman who’d given her a copy of her family’s cookie recipe because Jamie mentioned on her Facebook page the other night that she was dying for a homemade cookie she noted the young college guy behind her. Her eyes shot to the trio of guys waiting for him near the Sports section.
They kept gesturing for their friend to move up in line.
Why were they holding cameras? she wondered as he finally moved up in line and stood in front of her. He cleared his throat nervously.
“Um, J.L. Lewis?” he said, sounding unsure.
“Yes?” she asked, wondering if he was here to get her autograph for his girlfriend or mother. That was the reason most of the guys used when asking for her autograph, but a few of them she suspected were closet romance novel junkies.
Something about this guy told her that wasn’t the case.
Before she could wonder what he was doing he reached over and grabbed her hand, yanking her to her feet and had his mouth plastered against hers, surprising the heck out of her and everyone in line if the startled gasps and nervous chuckles were any indication. Just as fast as it happened it was over.