“Thor, bed,” he commands and snaps his fingers, and Thor immediately curls up on the dog bed in the corner of the room.
“He’s already trained really well.”
“Seth has done most of the work.” He joins me at the table and grins proudly. “He loves that dog. And Thor’s smart.”
“Mmm, so good,” I mutter with a mouth full of pasta drenched in red sauce. “I didn’t realize how hungry I was.”
He nods and eats, watching me. “How’s business?”
“Slow this time of year.” I shrug and take a bite of bread. “Typical. How about you?”
“The same. We just survive winters. Things will be nuts around here in a few months.”
“Are you glad to be back on the ranch?” I ask.
“Yeah. I missed it. Seth loves every minute of it.”
I glance over at Thor, whose ears have perked up at the sound of his young master’s name. “Do you ever hear from his mother?” I can’t say the woman’s name out loud.
He doesn’t elaborate.
“No.” He won’t meet my eyes, and instead just keeps shoveling food in his mouth. Does it hurt him to think of her?
The thought of that makes me ill.
“Is the divorce final?” I ask casually and reach for my wine. His fork stills in midair and he looks at me like I’ve just asked if he’d ever consider a sex change.
He lowers the fork back to the plate and wipes his mouth on his napkin, gathering his thoughts.
“The divorce was final before I ever touched you.” The words are deceptively calm. His eyes are pinned to mine now, a slight frown pulled between his brows. “I would have never put my hands on you if it wasn’t.”
I nod once and carry on as though it’s not that big a deal, but something in me that was worried before loosens.
When my plate is clean, I lean back in the chair and rub my hands up and down my flat belly.
“Dear God, I’m full.”
“No dessert?” he asks with a chuckle.
“Not for a while. Maybe not for a month.”
I stand and clear my plate and glass. “Are you finished?”
“Yeah, but I’ll clean up.”
“You cooked. I think there’s a federal law somewhere that says that the cook doesn’t clean.” I wink and gather his dishes and carry them to the kitchen. I rinse and load the dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the countertops, and then turn to find him standing on the other side of the island, leaning on his elbows.
He opens his mouth to speak, and just when I think he’s going to say something profound, he says, “I have plans for this kitchen.”
He nods and watches me carefully. “It hasn’t been updated in about fifteen years.”
I glance about the homey space. “I guess it could use some work.”
Why are we talking about the kitchen?
“I think I might gut it and start from scratch.”
“That’s quite a project.” I swallow hard as he walks around the island to me. I know I said no sex tonight, but frankly, if he boosted me up on this countertop and had his wicked way with me right now, I wouldn’t turn him down.
I am a red-blooded woman, after all.
His hand glides down my arm and he links his fingers with mine, raises it to his mouth, and plants a soft kiss on my thumb.
“Shall we watch a movie?”
“Sure.” My voice is high and squeaky, and I want to die. I clear my throat, but Zack grins and leads me out of the kitchen to the family room, where a huge TV dominates one wall and soft brown couches sit around the room. There are game systems situated on a unit under the TV, and controllers are lying on the ottoman, obviously left there from the last time the guys played.
“Seth and I spend a lot of time in here,” he says sheepishly.
“It’s a comfortable room.” I flop down on a couch slouched in the corner and prop my sock-clad feet on the ottoman. “I like it.”
“Make yourself at home,” he says with a chuckle. “What do you want to watch?”
“Why don’t we flip through the channels to see if there’s anything on TV?”
“You’re a channel flipper,” he says accusingly and passes me the remote.
I begin flipping through the stations, pausing at the History channel to watch a show about secrets of museums.
“I have a thing for mummies,” I say and glance over at Zack, who’s watching me with a funny look on his face.
“What kind of thing? They’ve been dead for a while. It’s not like you can date them or something.”
“I think they’re interesting, Captain Obvious.” I throw the one pillow on the whole couch at him.
“Aren’t there sports on? Or a show about murder?”
“Probably.” I continue flipping through the channels and come to a stop. “NCIS is my favorite show!”
“Really?” He eyes me again. “Mine too.”
“This is a marathon.” I set the remote aside and settle in for a night with Zack King and Jethro Gibbs.
Not a bad way to spend some time.
“The ones from the beginning with Kate are the best.”
Zack nods. “She was hot.”
“Yeah, I have a thing for brunettes.”
I roll my eyes and then startle when Zack pulls my feet into his lap and begins rubbing the left one, his eyes never leaving the TV. I sigh and settle deeper into the plush cushions of the couch. His thumb catches a particularly delicious spot in my arch and I moan, then slap my hand over my lips.
He does it again and my eyes drift shut in ecstasy. “God, you’re good at that.”
I hear him swear under his breath, and when I open my eyes, his jaw is clenched shut, but his face is impassive as he watches his hands knead the muscles in my foot.
I have to get out of here. If I stay, I’ll give in and rip his clothes off him and have my way with him.
“I should go.”
“Stay,” he says immediately and turns those dark chocolate eyes on me. “It’s a mess outside. The roads are most likely frozen over from the rain.”
“I didn’t bring anything with me . . .” Am I seriously considering this?
He pulls me into his lap and holds me against him, pushes my hair back over my shoulder, and drags his knuckles down my cheek.
“I won’t ask you to do anything that you don’t want to do, Jillian.” His voice is soft. “But I’d love to have you here with me. We’ll finish this NCIS marathon and take it from there. I have plenty of spare bedrooms.”