She blushes. “Smell that bad?”
“Not at all,” I lie easily. “You smell like flowers on a spring day.”
She laughs and heads for the stairs. “Okay, I’ll take a break for a few hours. I can’t guarantee what state the kitchen is in.” She shrugs. “Hazard of the job.”
“I’ll muddle my way through.” I wave her off and watch her long legs climb the stairs. “Take your time, sweetheart.”
Her gaze lowers to mine in surprise at the term of endearment and my heart squeezes. Does no one show her kindness? Support?
“Thank you,” she whispers, and disappears upstairs.
I grin as I head for her kitchen, pulling my phone out as I go.
I’m gonna owe Jill a favor.
I stand under the water longer than I probably should, but damn, it feels so good. It’s mortifying that it took Ty coming to my door to remind me that I haven’t showered, or eaten really, in days.
It happens all the time when the words are flowing. I lose all sense of time as I fall into the rhythm of the story. Not to mention, it was a welcome reprieve this week, after the Jack mess on Monday.
And now Ty is in my house, looking all sexy in his Metallica T-shirt and faded blue jeans, making me dinner.
I have no idea the last time someone made me dinner.
After rinsing my hair for the third time, I step out of the shower and dry my body quickly, then pull on clean clothes and quickly dry my hair, brushing it briskly. Finally, I brush on a coat of mascara and smooth some clear gloss on my lips, then briefly stop before the mirror to check out the results.
Yep, major improvement.
At least I’m clean.
I cringe as I think of what I must have looked like when I answered the door, and I descend the stairs, finding Ty in the kitchen.
“I believe I smell better,” I announce, catching his attention. He smiles at me and my feet pause as hot need sets up residence in my belly. Ty saunters to me, his eyes pinned to my own, and without breaking his stride, he pulls me easily into his arms for a big hug, rocking me back and forth. He buries his nose in my hair and takes a long, deep breath as his big hands glide over my back, from my shoulders to my hips. My nipples instantly pucker against him, and I thank the Lord above that I changed into a looser-fitting shirt.
“Mmm, you smell fantastic,” he murmurs. “Are you hungry?”
“I might be dying of starvation,” I mutter into his chest, earning a chuckle from him, and I calm. He makes me nervous, but in a good way. I’m happy he’s here.
“It’s a good thing we have provisions then. Come on, the table is set.” He pulls away, but keeps my hand in his, linking our fingers, and leads me to the dining room.
The man seems to like to touch me.
I’m not complaining.
I can’t help but admire the tattoos on his arm, the colors and lines that decorate his skin. I’d love to trace them with my tongue.
Seriously? He’s just being nice!
He guides me into the dining room and I gasp. “Did I take a two-hour shower?”
“No.” He chuckles and holds a chair out for me.
“How did you do all of this?” I gaze about the room. The long, black table seats ten. The large chandelier over the center of the table is lit, but on low. Ty found my candles and lit three of them at one end of the table. He set two places, and each is filled with delicious-looking pasta, salad, and bread.
But what shocks the hell out of me is the large bouquet of orange calla lilies in the center of the table.
I look at him in wonder. He chuckles again and kisses the top of my head before taking his own seat.
“The Italian restaurant delivers now?” I ask, recognizing my favorite bread.
“No.” He winces. “I wanted to cook, but your cupboards are bare and I didn’t have time to shop. I called in the order and Jill delivered.”
“Jill knows you’re here?” I ask, wide-eyed.
“Is that a problem?” he asks with a raised brow.
“No.” I shake my head and take a bite of penne with red sauce. “I’m just . . . surprised.”
“She dropped it off and tried to grill me with questions, but I cut her off at the pass.” He winks at me and takes a bite of bread and then lifts a bottle of pinot noir. “Wine?”
“I shouldn’t.” I wrinkle my nose. “I have to go back to work later.”
“One glass?” He grins, holding the bottle over my glass, and I cave.
“So, how long have you been writing?”
“My whole life.” I sip my wine. “But I’ve been published for about eighteen months.”
“That’s an understatement.” I laugh and stab a tomato with my fork. “I feel like I’m caught in a hurricane. But it’s been fantastic too.”
“Why didn’t you publish sooner?”
“I needed something after Mom and Dad passed and Jack left. So I absorbed myself in writing. It occupied my brain so I wasn’t always so sad and lonely.” I scowl.
“That sounded pathetic.”
“No, it didn’t. I get it.” He lays his hand over mine and squeezes reassuringly before returning to his food. “You’ve clearly found your calling. You’re in high demand.”
“It still doesn’t seem real.” He raises an eyebrow. “If you’d have asked me two years ago if I ever thought I’d sell tens of millions of books and have those books optioned for a blockbuster movie, I’d have had the guys with the straitjackets come get you.”
He throws his head back and laughs, then pushes his empty plate away and leans his elbows on the table as he sips his wine, watching me with the look of a man who is confident in his own skin and enjoys watching the woman he’s with.
I wish I had his confidence.
“Are you finished?”
“Oh my God, I’m so full.” I push the plate away and lean back in the chair. “It was delicious. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Come on, let’s take the wine and go sit on the couch.” He rises, grabs the bottle and his glass, and motions for me to follow him. I can’t help but notice how spectacular his ass looks in those jeans.
I flip the switch on the gas fireplace in the corner of the family room off the kitchen, then settle into one end of a long, soft sofa, pulling my bare feet up under me. Ty sits a few feet away, close enough to touch me. He sits facing me, one leg pulled up, and leans his elbow on the back of the couch, his head resting in his hand, and watches me with happy gray eyes.