When Kevin passed away, I had thrown myself into work. If I was honest, that was when I started to lose sight of myself, of who I was. I didn’t want that any longer. Last night I had decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance to feel again. And what I saw in the mirror wasn’t horrifying. It was the same body Kevin used to refer to as Botticelli beautiful. Curves weren’t a bad thing.
I just needed to get my mind on board with all of that.
Since I had gotten up early, I hit the computer after I’d showered and changed into a pair of jeans and a loose, cap sleeve blouse. I was able to work on a couple of pages before my phone dinged. It was a text from Colton. He was outside.
Heart jumping all around like a bouncing bean, I saved my work and closed the laptop. My bare feet were silent as I came down the stairs. The fresh pot of coffee I’d put on scented the air. Reaching the door, I opened it with a deep breath.
And the same breath punched out of my lungs.
The jeans he wore were faded along the knee and the old screen T-shirt stretched across his broad shoulders. He lived in these kinds of clothes. Not dress shirts and pants, and while he looked good in his detective getup, he looked damn good in jeans.
“Mornin’,” Colton drawled, stepping inside. He held a white cardboard box that smelled like heaven, and as I moved to close the door, he swooped down, pressing his lips against my cheek. The innocent brush of his lips across my skin sent an acute shiver down my spine. “I swung by the hardware store and picked up the stuff.”
Closing the door, I ordered myself to pull it together. “And the bakery?”
“Always the bakery.” He tossed a grin over his shoulder as he headed toward the kitchen, where he placed the box on the counter. “I got some muffins and éclairs. You haven’t eaten yet, right?”
My tummy grumbled happily. “No. Thank you for doing that—for doing all of this.”
“Like I said before, my pleasure. Do you prefer chocolate or fruit?”
I watched him from under my lashes. “Chocolate. Always chocolate.”
He chuckled as he plucked the chocolate éclair out, placing it on a napkin. “I’ll have to remember that.” Picking up a fruity éclair, he faced me and leaned back against the counter. “Did you sleep well last night?”
At first, I had tossed and turned, thinking about his kiss and what he’d said. I’d been turned on and I had to take care of that. Not that I was going to share that piece of info. Obviously. “I slept okay. You?”
His lashes lowered as a small grin tugged at his lips. “It took me a while to fall asleep.”
Could he have had the same problem as I? An image of him took hold in my thoughts, vibrant and seductive. I saw him in bed, his hand beneath the sheet, gripping his cock. My stomach hollowed at the thought, my mouth dried. His back would definitely be bowing and his head would be kicked back against the pillows as he worked himself…
He tilted his head to the side. “What are you thinking about, Abby?”
“Nothing.” Turning away hastily, I all but shoved the éclair in my mouth. “So…um, how much do I owe you for the stuff to fix the window?”
I dabbed at my lips when I turned back around. My brows rose. “Dinner?”
A half grin appeared. “Yes. Dinner. You know, where two people, sometimes more, go out to eat?” He took a bite of his éclair while my eyes narrowed. “Tonight.”
I started to ask why but managed to stop myself before I looked like a complete idiot. Well, I wasn’t sure I would look like a moron, but it would be so evident that my confidence in what was going on between us was somewhere between crappy and craptastic.
So I smiled as excitement and hope bubbled, and prayed there wasn’t chocolate on my teeth. “Dinner would be nice.”
* * * *
Colton was as handy as he was good looking, and I really could get used to him doing work around the house. Actually, I could get used to him just being in my house in general.
As he boarded up the window, making it more secure until the window guys could come out, an easy conversation flowed back and forth between us, and it was the same when he reappeared later that evening to take me to dinner.
After he’d left in the late afternoon, the struggle had been real when it came to concentrating, but I managed to get some work done on McGuire’s novel. I was lucky; her manuscripts were typically clean.
Nervous giddiness had my heart and pulse jumping all around as I picked out a dress that I hadn’t worn in what felt like forever. Actually, there was a good chance I’d never worn the sleeveless pink and blue floral dress. I sort of felt like I was wearing my grandmother’s couch when I slipped it on over my head, but the high waist and heart-shaped neckline were super flattering. I felt pretty in the dress.
Maybe even a little sexy.
I carried a pair of pink heels downstairs and then slipped them on mere moments before there was a knock on my door. Colton had texted, letting me know he was there. With my heart lodged somewhere in my throat, I opened the door and my tongue nearly lolled out of my mouth and rolled across the floor.
Once again dressed in jeans, he’d paired the dark denim with a plain, white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, showcasing powerful forearms. I didn’t know what it was about sleeves rolled up, but it had always been a huge turn-on for me.
I was so weird.
Colton’s gaze glided over me as a small grin appeared. “You look lovely.”
Like I was love-struck or something equally silly, I felt my cheeks flush. “Thank you. So do you. I mean, you don’t look lovely. You look hot. Sexy. Very nice.”
His brows rose.
I wanted to smack myself. “I think I’ll stop talking now.”
He chuckled as he lowered his head, kissing me softly. “Actually, keep talking. It’s doing wonders for my ego.”
“I don’t think you need any help in that department.”
“True,” he admitted, straightening. “My head is probably already too big.”
The thing was, Colton was confident and self-assured, maybe even a little cocky, but he wasn’t arrogant. He was like a unicorn.
“Just one second.” I grabbed my purse and keys off the coffee table and then joined him outside, pulling the door closed behind me. The heat was near stifling, coating my skin as I glanced at the boarded window. I cringed. “That looks terrible.”
“Not the greatest curb appeal,” he agreed, placing his hand on my lower back. We started down the short set of steps. “Did you get in touch with anyone today after I left?”
“I called my insurance company—the one-eight-hundred number. It doesn’t make sense to file a claim, not with the deductible, but they did give me a list of companies to call tomorrow.” Despite the heat, I couldn’t suppress a shiver when he slid his hand to the center of my back.
He cast me a knowing side-look as we stepped onto the sidewalk. “I want someone to get out here quick. I don’t like the idea of the window being like that for long.”
“Me neither. I feel like—”
A loud pop caused me to jump and lose my grip on my purse. It slipped from my fingers, falling to the pavement as I whipped around. Heart racing, my frantic gaze searched for the source of the sound, terrified I was about to come face-to-face with the bald man.