Except, she’s mine for right now, and that’s all that matters.
“If you tell me that you’re having sex while on the phone with me, I will deck the fuck out of you when I see you.”
“You don’t scare me.”
“He’s not having sex,” Kate says into the phone, and giggles as she snuggles into me again.
I’ve never loved to snuggle. I mean, it’s a necessity to snuggle right after sex. Otherwise, you’re just a prick who wanted to fuck her. And I am, but even I know the importance of the obligatory snuggle.
That isn’t what this is.
“I might have sex after we hang up,” I clarify, earning another giggle from Kate.
“No, he won’t. At least not with me.”
I slap Kate’s ass and laugh when she pinches my side. “What’s up, Dec?”
“Just wanted to give you an update on Van. She’s doing better this morning. Stiff and sore, but her ribs aren’t broken, and there’s no bleeding. They’ll let her go to Mama’s this afternoon.”
“She’ll love that,” I say dryly.
“Gabby wanted her to go to the inn, but I put the nix on that. Van will try to help. If we have her go to Mama’s, she’ll be pampered and taken care of.”
“She’ll die of boredom in a week.”
“Maybe in a week she can go to Gabby’s,” he reasons, and I agree. “Anyway, I wanted to let you know so you can look in on her at Mama’s tonight. I’ll be by too.”
“And just so you know, Eli, she doesn’t look good.”
“I know. I saw her last night. But she’s going to be fine, Dec.”
“Yeah. Yeah, she will.”
We ring off and I toss my phone on the floor and hug Kate close. “Now, what’s this about me not having sex this morning?”
“I don’t have time.”
“Do you have somewhere you need to be?”
“Yes,” she laughs. “I need to go in to work. As it is, I’m very late.”
“You’re with the boss, Kate.”
“No one else knows that.” She moves to climb off of me, but I tug her back into my arms and turn us on our sides, her between me and the back of the couch, and kiss her softly.
“Are you okay?”
I lean back so I can look at her clearly, and aside from the puffiness and redness, I can see that she’s telling the truth.
“Strong girl,” I whisper and kiss her forehead.
“I’m also late.”
“Are we back to this?”
“I’m serious, Eli. I have a mountain of work, and I have some leads that I’m following.”
“What leads?” I ask.
“Let me see if they go anywhere. All I have are hunches right now. I’ll fill you in as soon as I have anything solid.” She smiles and kisses my chin. “So, I really do have to go to work. And so do you.”
“I do.” I sigh and don’t move. “I’m going to go check on Savannah this afternoon.”
“I’ll go this evening.”
“Just ride with me this afternoon.”
“I can’t.” She rolls her eyes and I grin because she’s adorable. “You and I aren’t doing…stuff.”
“If by stuff you mean kissing,” I kiss her lips, “and touching,” drag my hand down her side to her hip, “and fucking,” pull her against me so she can feel my hard cock against her abdomen, “yes, we are.”
“No one else knows that. I can’t arrive late and leave early, Eli. But I will let you do stuff to me later.”
“We’re going to keep working on your vocabulary, cher.”
She grins up at me as she slides her leg up mine and presses her center against me, making my eyes cross.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“How are you adjusting?” I ask Van as I lean back in my chair and prop the phone between my ear and shoulder, returning an email.
“You know I love the inn,” she replies. It’s good to hear the smile in her voice. “And I love Mama too, but after the eighth day, I was ready to make an escape.”
“Mama enjoyed babying you for a while,” I reply.
“I really could go home, you know. I’m feeling pretty much normal again. I need to work.”
“You need to relax.”
“I have work, Eli.”
“We may fall apart around here without you,” the sarcasm in my voice is thick, “but we’ll muddle our way through. Just enjoy the inn. Get well.”
“I forgot how much I love being out here,” she concedes. “And Sam is so adorable. He brought me breakfast in bed this morning. Gogurt and Goldfish crackers.”
“Breakfast of champions.”
“Oh, I have to go take a call for Gabby. I’ll call you later.”
I hang up and sigh. I’m restless. It’s been more than a week since Van was hurt. She’s doing well. The past week has been a blur of police statements, long days at work, and short nights with Kate.
She’s been working her own ass off. She works late into the evening, and is up early again the next morning. I see her long enough to sink inside her sweet body, then curl up around her and sleep.
I rub my hand over my mouth as it occurs to me that I miss her.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
I turn my attention back to work, but it’s no use. I can’t focus. I can’t think of anything but Kate, and quickly decide to rectify the situation.
“Put me through to Kate O’Shaughnessy’s office,” I instruct my assistant and grin when I hear Kate answer with an irritated, “This is Kate.”
“This is Eli,” I reply. “I need you to gather all of your notes and files on your project and come to my office, please.”
“Is there a problem?” she asks.
“Ten minutes,” I reply, rather than answer, and hang up the phone. I answer several emails and calls before Kate is announced and shown into my office. I gesture for her to have a seat, then stand, cross to the door, lock it, and return to my own seat behind the desk.
“Good morning.” My voice is formal, professional, and makes Kate frown.
“Hello,” she replies. “Eli, is something wrong?”