“Quittin’ time.” I let out a small noise, having been startled by Grey’s deep voice. I quickly get myself together and gather my things. His presence takes over the entire room. Goosebumps arise all over my body imagining how it would feel if I was under him. His body looming over mine. I know he’d feel heavy over me. A powerful weight that would have me trying to push my body more into his. I have to stop fantasizing about him.
“Don’t you know how to knock? Do you normally barge into other people's private areas without permission?” I yield those words like a sword because I’m pissed at myself for being attracted to him. Guess what he does? He freaking smiles at me. The urge to stomp my damn foot is great but I tamp it down. He’d likely smile more.
“Let’s go. I’ll give you a ride to where you’re staying. Your things are already in my pickup.”
“I can grab a Lyft or a cab. You don’t need to do me any favors,” I toss at him, hoping he’ll leave but also wishing he’ll stay. I’m such a damn mess when he’s around. At least this office isn’t anymore.
“You always this stubborn?” he says with that smile still on his lips like he finds my stubbornness cute. “It’s been a long day. Let me drive you so I know you’re safe.”
I relent when I watch his eyes go soft.
“Just agree or this will be a twenty-minute fight that he wins.” Kayla pops up with her bag in hand.
“Fine.” I relent. I’m ready for a bed and some room service. I’m not sure how with the giant lunch we had. Grey wasn’t joking about ordering everything.
We all head out together. I notice Grey makes sure Kayla gets to her car safely before opening his truck door for me.
I get in fast this time so he can’t grab me. He chuckles, shutting the door behind me. We ride in silence but it’s not long until we’re pulling up to a beautiful bed and breakfast—at least that’s what I think it is. It’s charming and still needs a little work but I love that it looks like it has history to it.
“What’s this place called?” I ask, looking over to him. I don’t see a sign outside.
“Home.” He winks at me before jumping out of the truck. I sit there shocked for a moment until I see him pulling my bags out of the back of his truck bed. I swing my door open.
“This is your house.” I point to the charming Victorian house that I never in my life would’ve guessed was his.
“Come on. I’ll give you a tour.” He heads to the front door. I follow only because he has my bags. He unlocks the door before disarming the security system.
He places my bags into the foyer before going back to the front door and picking up some boxes that had been left. “Think our hand towels and pillows came,” he says with a smile.
“Our hand towels.” I don’t know why that’s what I choose to say right now. Maybe because I’m flipping confused about what’s happening.
“Yeah. Got us matching ones,” he says simply. As if it’s normal for us to have matching hand towels. He picks me up again, making me let out a small scream. He puts me down two seconds later, shutting the front door and locking it.
“Tour first or food?”
“Food” pops out of my mouth before I can stop myself. Damn it. Food gets me every time. I could stay for dinner then go. Hey, a girl’s gotta eat. Even if she’s already had twelve desserts.
“Where did you learn how to cook?” Amie eyes me with suspicion as if my ability to wield a knife in the kitchen is somehow evidence of me being a manwhore.
“Mom. Military. Mostly military. Gotta learn how to do shit for yourself while you’re serving or shit never gets done, but Mom taught me the basics.” Amie falls silent. I scoop the chopped onions into the sizzling pan before checking her out. “You surprised I have a mama?”
She pushes her pretty lips together. “No, of course not,” she replies but there isn’t much sincerity in her voice. She must’ve thought I sprung from the devil’s horns. Maybe it’s not just me, though, maybe it’s just that I’ve got a dick.
“I’m glad you’re watching me close,” I tell her, stripping the rosemary leaves off the branch. “Because who knows what I’m going to put in your sauce?”
“My mom told me to never trust—” She cuts herself off and pushes away from the island abruptly. I watch, narrow-eyed, as she wanders over to the doors overlooking a covered patio. In the dark glass, I can see a pained reflection. The memory she was going to share dredged up a bad feeling. I toss the rosemary into the pan along with the onions and debate whether I should abandon the andouille sausage dish I’m making to console her or whether I should go along with her attempts to pretend like nothing is wrong. There’s a tingling on the back of my neck that’s warning me there are eggshells under my feet. I clench my fist around a wooden spoon and force out a light tone. “Your mama told you what?”
“Nothing,” comes the moody response.
Damn Sokolov for not giving me more details and damn me for not following up with him although the man’s on his honeymoon so it’s possible he’s not even accessible.
“Well, you can trust that this stew is going to be good. Now, do you want white or brown rice with this?”
“Whatever you think is best. How long will it take? I want to check in at the hotel. It’s been a long day.” She’s still talking to her reflection.
“I’ve got a spare room here.”
She stiffens immediately and whips around. “And I bet you expect me to sleep with you, don’t you?” Anger riding high on her cheekbones, she stalks toward me. “I’m not interested and if this is part of the job requirements, I’m not only going to quit, I’m going to sue your ass into oblivion.”
“Ma’am, the door has a lock which you should feel free to use. I hate seeing you spend your hard-earned money on a hotel when you could be staying here.” I turn the burner on low and gesture for her to follow me. She remains put with a stubborn and mean expression on her face. I hate to say it but it turns me the fuck on. As in, my cock is getting harder by the second. I keep walking, talking loudly over my shoulder because my whole spiel on how this is a safe place for her will not be bought for a single second if she sees the tent in my pants.
“This was my grandma’s house. I inherited it when she passed about five years back. Before she left us, the first floor was redone to accommodate her wheelchair. This back sunroom was made into a suite for her. I’ve got a master bedroom upstairs.” I throw open the door to my grandma’s old room. Thankfully the cleaners were here just two days ago so it smells fresh and looks like a hotel room. “My mom stays here when she’s in town.”
“I’m not interested,” Amie yells from the living room.
“Huh?” I shout back. “I can’t hear you.”
“I said I’m not—”
“Sorry, what’s that?”
Footsteps stomp loudly against the refinished red oak floors and stop when they reach the doorway. “I said I’m not—Oh my God, this is beautiful,” Amie gasps.
I smile to myself. “Sure is. Grandma had good taste and a deep pocketbook.”
The room looks like something out of an English manor, which is exactly what Grandma, the late Countess of Montelarch, intended. Downton Abbey’s got nothing on my setup. The ceilings in my two-story Victorian are ten feet high on the first floor. The massive king size bed has a padded headboard with a green silk canopy. The floor is covered in plush handmade rugs and the walls are covered in a custom wallpaper designed to my grandmother’s exact specifications. Two deep pink velvet chairs with claw feet flank a white marble fireplace. At the opposite side of the room from the bed, a wall of the same green silk provides shade and privacy from the garden that is right beyond the French doors.