As Colton left, I glanced at Reece. “You leave wet towels on the floor?”
He actually looked sheepish. “Maybe. Sometimes.”
I cocked a brow.
“Okay. After every shower, but for you, I’ll pick up the towels,” he offered.
“I don’t know. Wet towels are gross.”
He chuckled, but the humor fled when his eyes met mine. “I know it seems like a huge step with you staying with me, but it’s temporary, babe.”
I got that, but staying with him felt like a slippery slope into . . . well, a lot of things. I was all about starting over with him. I was all about the friendship and the sex. I was even cool with dating him, but I wanted to keep all the chambers of my heart out of it, because I knew . . .
I knew I could lose him and that terrified me.
But he was right. Staying with my parents would be a major pain and staying with Katie would probably be a train wreck of crazy. The fun kind, but also the kind where you ended the night with a trip to jail.
God, I was stupid, but I found myself nodding nonetheless.
I managed to hold off on telling my parents what was going on, which was great news. I knew they’d freak, rightfully so, but I also had a long shift ahead of me and way too much going on in my head. Since I had to get to the bar and Reece needed to work, we really didn’t have time for that conversation, so that meant that was how I’d be spending my Sunday. With my car still over at my apartment, Reece drove me to work in his car.
And that was different.
Not including my brothers, I’d never been driven to work by a guy before. Getting out of the car had also been a new experience for me. I’d wiggled my fingers at Reece and thanked him.
That hadn’t been sufficient.
“Whoa.” He’d caught my arm before I could step out of the truck. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Um? To work?”
“Not like that.”
Confused, I’d opened my mouth to ask for a little more detail, but then he’d tugged me toward me. “We don’t say good-bye to one another,” he’d claimed. “We kiss.”
And we did.
He’d tilted his head, lining up his mouth with mine. A heartbeat full of sweet anticipation had passed and then he brushed his lips across mine. Sweet and quick, I had thought that was all, but I’d been mistaken. Then he really kissed me, hot and rough. The kiss sent my blood boiling and blistered my skin. He kissed me like he thought he might never be able to do it again, and that kiss left me drowning in Reece, in his taste and in his warmth.
I’d stumbled out of that truck and walked into Mona’s in a daze. Hours later, and my lips were still tingling from that scorching kiss.
Working tonight was definitely a lot different from the previous couple of days. My chatting with customers came more easily, my smiles became more sincere, and that meant my tips were through the roof.
Which was great, since it looked like I’d be adding another monthly bill to the expense list. It sucked but was necessary.
During a lull in customers, Nick pulled me to the back of the bar, in front of the displayed bottles. “Hey, I wanted to make sure you’re not staying at your place tonight.”
“I’m not,” I assured him.
His expression was unreadable. “Reece’s?”
“How did you guess?”
He shot me a bland look. Totally read that. “I’m psychic. Instead of falling off a stripper pole, I hit my head on a liquor bottle.”
Laughing, I smacked his arm. “Shut up.”
His lips twitched. “Seriously. I’m glad to hear you’re not staying there.” He glanced at the customers sitting at the bar. “You doing okay?”
Truthfully, I wasn’t allowing myself to think about the fact I had a legit stalker. If I let myself focus on it, I’d drive myself crazy. I’d end up rocking in a corner. “Yeah,” I told him. “I’m okay as I can be.”
He studied me for a moment. “If you need anything, you let me know, all right?”
“Okay.” Affection for Nick rose, and I didn’t think before I acted. Springing forward, I wrapped my arms around his waist. He stiffened like someone had dropped cement down his spine, but I squeezed him tight, ignoring the awkwardness of the hug. “Thank you for last night. Thank you . . . thanks for caring.”
His arms came around me and he awkwardly patted my back. “Uh, it’s no big deal.”
“It’s totally a biggie,” I told him and then pulled back. Looking up at him, I smiled. “You’re a really good guy even though you have questionable dating practices.”
He grinned then, before turning to a guy who’d shimmied up against the bar. “Keep that knowledge to yourself.”
The rest of the night flew by and when it came time for Reece to arrive for my pickup, there was a nervous excitement that felt like a nest of hungry butterflies had erupted in my stomach.
Reece was pulling into the parking lot as Nick and I were finishing locking up. He nodded at Nick, which earned him a weird manly nod back in greeting. I didn’t get dudes sometimes. Why couldn’t they just say hi to one another like normal people?
Climbing into the cruiser, I was greeted with a bag from Subway. “Roast beef for you, turkey club for me,” he explained, shifting the car into drive. “Figured you’d be hungry.”
“Thank you.” I held the bag close. “That’s really thoughtful.”