“I got that,” he replies softly and kisses my head. “When I thought about it from your point of view, I got it. If the roles were reversed, I’d be in jail for assault.”
“I’m not usually super jealous, but honestly, Mark, her tits?”
“I know. I’m sorry about that too. I texted every woman in my phone last night, those I remember and those I don’t, and told them that I’m off the market for good and not to text me again.”
“Yes. My sister and mom weren’t impressed.”
I chuckle and slap his arm without any real malice behind it. “I had a brief relationship with a guy a few years ago and when I say brief, that’s no lie. Super brief. Mostly because he didn’t think it was necessary to stop sleeping with everyone else he knew while he was sleeping with me.”
“I’m not like that and you know it.”
“I know. And I feel more than a little foolish this morning. If it helps, I cried myself to sleep last night.”
“No that doesn’t help,” he says as he caresses my back and kisses my head. “I hate it when you cry.”
“I hate it when I’m stupid.”
“You’re not stupid. We’re learning each other again, remember?”
“I’m learning that you have a helluva possessive side.”
His hand travels down my back to cup my ass firmly.
“I do too. There won’t be a repeat of last night, M. I promise. And this is the last time I’ll ever sleep on the couch. You can’t blame me for things that aren’t my fault.”
I grin and kiss his chest. “I’ll try to rein in the jealous bitch.”
“Do that. You don’t have anyone to be jealous of, baby. You’re all I see. You know that.”
I raise up to gaze into his face in the gray glow of the living room. He brushes his thumbs under my eyes, wiping the tears away. “You’re all I see,” he whispers.
“About the other thing, Mark. I don’t ever want you to think that I would choose dance over you again. I wouldn’t. I said no because of you, because I couldn’t be away from you for so long. I made it clear that I’ve moved on from that life.”
He kisses my cheek and pulls me back down against his chest.
“I believe you,” he whispers. “And I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions of my own.”
“Where are we going?” I ask and push my hair out of my face. Mark took the top off his Jeep, and we’re speeding down the freeway on this gorgeous spring day. The sky is bright blue, not a cloud in it, and the chill from early spring is finally being burned off by the sun.
“We have work to do today.”
“Um, no, we have the week off.” I glance over at Mark and feel the breath leave my lungs. Will I always lose my breath when I look at him? He’s wearing dark Oakley sunglasses. His blond hair is messy from the wind and my fingers. His white T-shirt molds against his chest and arm muscles like a dream and his forearms flex as he grips the steering wheel.
I can’t even think about the way those faded blue jeans hug his ass and thighs without breaking out into a sweat.
I could easily just sit here and watch him all day.
“You’re not listening to me.”
“Sorry, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re over there looking like that.”
He laughs and lifts my hand to his lips to kiss my knuckles. “You’re funny.”
He tosses me a hot look before pulling into a home improvement store, parks and cuts the engine.
“What are we doing here?”
“I want you to come help me figure out how to remodel your kitchen.”
“I don’t have permission from my landlord to remodel my kitchen.”
He tilts his head to the side and cocks a brow at me. “Don’t be difficult.”
“Why do you need my help?”
“Because, you’ll be living with it for a long time, so you should be the one to tell me what you like.”
He climbs out of the Jeep, but all I can do is sit here and stare after him, not sure what to say. He opens my door and helps me out of the Jeep, takes my hand in his and leads me inside the cavernous store. It smells of sawdust and grass.
“I don’t think girls are supposed to be in here,” I say and bite my lip. Mark laughs and props his sunglasses on his head.
“It’s an equal opportunity store, M.”
“I’ll like anything you do to your kitchen, Mark. You don’t need me to tell you what to do.” He leads me back to the appliance and kitchen area, where they have kitchen displays set up so you can see what the appliances and countertops look like together.
“Just humor me.” He kisses my temple before dropping my hand and gesturing to a kitchen nearby. “I’m going to leave the existing cabinets, but I was thinking about painting them.”
I tilt my head and look about the space, thinking about the kitchen as it is now.
“White would brighten it up a lot.”
“Exactly.” He grins and nods. “I was also thinking about replacing the doors with some that have glass in them.”
“No way.” I shake my head adamantly. “If they have glass fronts, you can see the mess inside. Maybe just some glass ones where the plates and bowls go. I like colorful dinnerware, so that would be pretty, but the rest shouldn’t have glass.”
He’s nodding as I talk, thinking. “I can do that. Okay, white cabinets with just a couple glass-front doors. Now, let’s talk countertops. I want granite, but let’s look at colors.” He leads me to a wall covered in granite samples. “I’m going to make the island bigger to give us more work space.”
“What about a small sink in the island?” I ask. “It would be handy to have a small sink to wash vegetables and stuff so I don’t have to constantly walk back and forth to the big sink.”
“We can do that,” Mark says with a wide grin. “See? This isn’t so hard.”
I bite my lip and look away. Holy shit, I’ve jumped right into the spirit of this. I need to rein it in just a smidge.
“Since the cabinets will be white, how do you feel about a dark countertop?” He points to smooth, shiny black granite that has little silver flecks in it.