I stick my tongue out at him.
“Well, hello there, I’m Madame Sophia.” She grins and begins to rub hand sanitizer on her hands.
At least she’s a clean palm reader.
“Will I be reading both of your palms, then?”
“No,” Eli replies and shoves both his hands in his pockets. He always does that when he’s uncomfortable.
It’s kind of adorable.
“Scared?” I ask with a grin.
“Skeptical,” he replies, matching my grin and sending me off my axis.
“That’s okay, baby girl, he can just listen. Please give me the hand you’re most comfortable writing with.” I lay my right hand in hers, palm up, and settle in to be entertained.
“Ah,” she whispers and traces her finger around the outside of my palm. “You’re an emotional one, aren’t you, baby girl? You wear your heart on your sleeve.”
I bite my lip and glance up at Eli, who rolls his eyes. I know what he’s thinking: half the population does that.
“A smart one, you are. Oh, look at that! You’re a good liar.” She glances up at me, narrows her eyes, and then looks back down.
I lie for a living.
“Oh, baby girl.” She’s not looking at my palm anymore. Now she’s looking me in the eye, her chocolate brown eyes full of sympathy. “He didn’t deserve you, and you’re better off without him.”
I frown and glance at Eli, then back at Sophia. “I don’t think—”
“But you gonna be just fine,” she continues without a beat. “Sometimes, love be right under your nose, y’know?”
“I don’t think I really need love advice,” I reply nervously. She winks at me, and then returns to my palm.
“Ah, you’re stubborn, but that’s good. You don’t let people take advantage, but you are a sucker for the puppy dog eyes.” She chuckles when I simply blink at her. “Your parents miss you, way over there in Ireland.”
I gasp and move to pull my hand away. “How did you know—?”
“It’s just here,” she replies. “You’ll get a call soon that will change things for you.”
“Change them how?”
“That’s enough,” Eli says, and lays his hand on my shoulder, sending electricity down my chest, making my nipples pucker and Sophia’s eyes widen as she looks between the two of us, her hand still hanging on to mine.
“This is a powerful connection.”
“I said that’s enough. Thank you for your time,” he says and helps me to my feet.
“I don’t think she was done,” I say with a frown, and glance back to see Madam Sophia watching us walk away with a thoughtful frown on her worn face.
“She was done.”
His jaw is clenched and his eyes are narrowed as he leads me down the cobblestone street.
He doesn’t stop, so I dig in my heels and pull him to a stop next to me.
He tucks my hair behind my ear. “You should be wearing your hat.”
I settle it on my head, tipped a bit too far forward, so he has to bend at the knees to see my face. Finally, he smiles and tips the brim back.
“Why did that freak you out?”
He shrugs. “She was upsetting you.”
She was freaking me out.
“I’m fine,” I repeat stubbornly. He simply smirks and kisses my forehead.
“Are you ready for lunch?”
“You’re in New Orleans, dawlin’. There’s always more food.”
“I’m exhausted,” I sigh, as Eli walks me up to my door several hours, many shops, and two meals later.
“In a good way, I hope.”
“Definitely a good way. I had so much fun today.”
He smiles softly and takes my hat off my head, then tucks my hair behind my ear and drags his fingertip down my jawline. “I had fun too.”
“I’m glad you rang my bell at the crack of dawn.”
“I believe it was nine, not the crack of dawn.”
I shrug. “Same difference.”
He chuckles as I fish my keys out of my handbag and unlock my door.
“Do you want to come in?” I ask.
“I have a bit of work to do this evening,” he replies. His eyes look almost…determined.
“Okay, well thanks again.”
He nods as I close the door and toss my hat on the sofa. Holy crap, today was fun. The chemistry is still off the charts, but he was a perfect gentleman the whole day. He barely touched me, but we laughed a lot and he was…friendly.
Huh. Eli Boudreaux and I are friends.
I grin as I walk through my loft, and my iPhone lights up with a FaceTime call from my cousin Rhys. I grin as I press accept and sit out on my balcony to take the call.
“Well, hello, gorgeous. You are a sight for sore eyes.”
“Hey, handsome. Back at you.”
“Do you want to come in?” she asks, her green eyes smiling up at me.
Fuck, yes, I want to come in. Which means, I’d better not go in there because I’ve kept my hands off of her all day and my resistance is dying a slow, painful death.
“I have a bit of work to do this evening,” I lie easily. She immediately looks down, disappointment shadowing her eyes, and I feel like the first-class asshole I’m known to be. But I’d be an even bigger asshole if I followed her in and seduced those expensive panties off her.
“Okay, well thanks again.” She offers me another of her sweet smiles, then closes the door behind her and flips the deadbolt lock with a loud click.
I lean my forehead on her door and quietly take a long, deep breath.
I can still smell her.
I walk down her stairs and stroll to my own empty house, thoughts of Kate still running through my head. I don’t remember the last time I took a whole day away from the office, and I certainly don’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much.
Kate’s enthusiasm for everything new is contagious. Her love of the music, the food, hell…even that crazy palm reader. She jumps in with both feet and relishes the experience, making being in her company simply effortless.
And maybe that’s what has me scared shitless.
I’ve taken my home for granted my whole life. My father always pointed out to us that we live in a special place, but until I spent the past week sharing it with Kate, it never occurred to me to truly appreciate it.