He nodded. “Did I wake you?”
“No. I…” That was about when I realized that I was wearing nothing but a pair of sleep shorts and an old shirt that pretty much hid nothing. I didn’t even need to look down to know that my nipples were most likely noticeable. And my thighs? Oh, dear God.
“I smell coffee though,” he said, glancing toward the kitchen. “So I’m guessing not?”
He spoke as if he hadn’t noticed I had some major headlights and chub rub going on, but then again, why would someone like Colton even notice that in the first place? My attention flipped to the stairway. A huge part of me wanted to rush upstairs and throw a Snuggie on. Or at least a bra.
I really needed to put a bra on.
“No. You didn’t wake me up,” I said, glancing back at him. The air suddenly punched out of my lungs.
Colton was so not looking at my face.
He was looking below the shoulders, his gaze lingering in some areas longer than others. Like at the edge of my shorts and then across the chest, as if he were committing the words Penn State to memory. A tingle buzzed to the tips of my breasts. His gaze gradually drifted up to my face and those blue eyes…they reminded me of the core of a flame. Heat blossomed deep inside me, infiltrating my veins. The intensity of it was shocking.
So much so I stepped back. “I’m going to…I’ll be right back.”
That half grin remained in place. “Mind if I help myself to the coffee?”
“No. Not at all.” I edged toward the stairwell. “Help away.”
Spinning around, I dashed up the stairs and into my bedroom. Once inside, I pressed my palms to my warm cheeks. “Oh my God.”
I headed into the bathroom and saw, thank God, that my face wasn’t blood red, but my cheeks were flushed and my hazel eyes, more brown than green, seemed bright. Feverish. Turning on the cold water, I bent over and quickly splashed it over my face. Oh goodness, I had only ever read about men staring at women in a way that it felt like a physical touch before. I hadn’t really believed it possible.
Straightening, I grabbed my toothbrush and quickly got down to business, all the while trying to get a grip on reality. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Colton was here because of what happened last night. There could be no other reason, so I needed to keep my overactive imagination where it belonged, at work. Yes, it was odd that he’d just pop over, but maybe he felt like he needed to tell me in person. And the checking me out? Maybe he was just reading my shirt.
Okay. That was stupid. He had definitely been looking at my breasts, but he was a dude and I was a chick, so these things happened.
Especially when you were nipply and you weren’t wearing a bra.
I grabbed a bra and a pair of yoga pants I’d never in my entire life ever worn while doing yoga. I quickly re-twisted my hair and then resisted the urge to put makeup on. At this point, if I went back downstairs with a peachy glow and to die for lashes, it would be way too obvious.
I couldn’t believe Colton Anders had seen me braless before I had my first full cup of coffee. What is my life?
Ignoring the near constant flutter in the pit of my stomach, I headed back downstairs. What I saw had the weirdest, bittersweet feel to it.
Colton had placed the box of crepes on the dining table and moved my cup of coffee to the seat catty-corner to where he was sitting, at the head of the table. A fresh cup of coffee was placed in front of him. There were even plates and he’d found my napkins. And utensils.
It was so…familiar, and again, intimate.
“How are you hanging in there after last night?” he asked without looking up.
“Okay, I guess. I mean, I’m trying not to think about it.” Except that was a terrible lie. It was almost all I thought about last night.
He glanced up and the side of his lips quirked up. “I must say, I sort of liked what you were wearing before more.”
My cheeks flushed red as I made my way to the table. “You must be exhausted then.”
One eyebrow arched. “Oh, sweetheart, I’m never too tired to appreciate the beauty of a woman who just woke up and is still walking around in the clothes she slept in.”
I sat down, eyeing him like he was a foreign species. “I didn’t know you were a charmer.”
“More like an outrageous flirt,” he corrected, opening the box of crepes. “Obviously I’m not very good at it.”
Clasping my hands in my lap, all I could do was watch him pluck up a crepe and plop it down on my plate. Was he saying he was trying to flirt with me? That was definitely not typical detective protocol.
Well, not outside romance novels.
“I’m still shocked that it was you when I walked into the office last night. God. How many years has it been? Too many.” He moved on, picking up another crepe and placing it on his plate. “I really am sorry to hear about Kevin. The one thing I’ve learned over and over is that life is not guaranteed. Ever.”
“That’s true.” I glanced at the crepe. It looked delish, but nerves were conquering my appetite. “It’s hard to deal with and move on, but you do, even when there are a lot of moments when you don’t think that’ll happen.”
“And you have?” He picked up a knife and fork, cutting into the crepe. “You’ve moved on?”
“I…” The question caught me off guard, and I glanced at the photo of Kevin. “It was four years ago and I…I will always love him, but I have…I have closed that chapter of my life.”
His gaze flicked to mine and he didn’t look away as he lifted a piece of crepe to his mouth. He ate it with pure enjoyment, as if it was the first and last piece of food he’d ever devoured, and I couldn’t help but think if he ate food with such gusto, what he was like eating—
I cut that thought off and quickly turned my attention to my plate. Oh my God, what was wrong with me? Why I was thinking about Colton eating…well, definitely not food. Then again, who wouldn’t think about that when they saw him and those lush lips?
“So what have you been up to, Abby?”
My chin jerked up as my heart turned over heavily. “I graduated from Penn State. Um, I worked in New York at a publishing house.”
His brows flew up. “Really? That’s impressive.”
I shrugged a shoulder. “Well, it was not an easy job to get. I had to put my time in. Luckily, I was able to spend a summer interning while in college. It helped open connections, but I was still an assistant editor by the time I left. Kevin worked at a different publishing house. He made senior editor in record time. Of course.”
“Why?” He was almost done with his crepe.
I smiled faintly. “The publishing industry sure loves their boys.”
“Interesting. I didn’t know that.” He paused. “And you left after Kevin passed away?”
I nodded. “I just…well, I wasn’t a fan of the city. Even Philadelphia has nothing on New York. It was so damn expensive and I didn’t see a point in staying there afterward.”
He picked up a second crepe. “And do you still work as an editor?”
“Freelance.” I reached up, tugging a strand of hair that came loose back and behind my ear. “I still freelance for publishers and for indies.”