I still had no idea if I was going to stop by Reece’s or how I really even felt about Nick getting my phone number, contacting me, and then inviting me to his friend’s place.
If he was looking for something casual between us, the invite wasn’t strange. That was actually pretty common, but I had a hard time believing he sincerely thought that would happen between us so soon after what went down at the bar.
Turning my gaze to the menu, I let out a deep sigh and then dropped it back on the counter. There was a packet of Reese’s Halloween pumpkins. Would that count as dinner if I just ate all nine of them?
Sounded legit to me.
Picking up a thick bobby pin, I twisted my hair into a loose knot and shoved the pin in. I was just about to pick up the menus again when there was a knock at my door. My heart turned over as I closed the drawer. With my pulse picking up, I walked to the door and took a quick peek through the peephole even though I had an idea who it could be.
I was right.
Nick stood in the hallway outside my apartment. Curious, I unlocked the door and opened it. He turned toward me, and there was this squeezing type pressure in my chest. Not unpleasant, but . . . but wholly unfamiliar to me.
His hair was damp, the dark strands curling along his forehead. Drops of rain dotted his powerful shoulders. When had it started raining? God, I’d really had a single-minded focus on those menus, with nothing to show for it.
“Hi,” I said, my gaze dropping to the plastic bag he held.
“Hey,” he drawled, and my stare was dragged back up. He looked good, but I figured he always looked good, from the moment he woke up to when he rested that head of his on a pillow. “I brought you something.”
Blinking, I stepped back. “You did?”
“Yeah. Can I come in?”
I nodded and watched him walk in and close the door. He took the bag to the small bistro table I had set up in the dining area. I was at a loss for words when he started speaking.
“When I was younger and not feeling well, my mom used to make me homemade chicken noodle soup.” Nick pulled out a plastic container and faced me. “It’s a lot better than the canned stuff. She used to drop in some herbs that are good for settling the stomach and actually give the soup a good taste so it’s not so bland.” He headed for the kitchen. “Your bowls here?”
“Above the left counter.” I was frozen.
He pulled out a ceramic bowl, put it on the counter and peeled back the plastic container lid. Carefully, he dumped the noodles, chunks of chicken, and broth into the bowl. “It’s still a little warm but it needs to be heated up a bit. Microwave okay?”
My lips slowly parted. It was obvious it was not canned soup. “Yes. Microwave is fine.” I inched closer to the kitchen. “Did your . . . did your mom make that.”
“No.” Nick placed the bowl in the microwave. Little beeps echoed through the silence. He placed his hands on the counter before the microwave, his back to me. “My mom died thirteen years ago.”
“Oh.” I placed my hand on my chest. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
He nodded, but the line of his spine was tense, his shoulders hunched. I opened my mouth because losing a parent was something I could relate to, but beyond what I’d already said, I couldn’t find the words. It wasn’t something I talked about often. The microwave dinged and he removed the bowl. The aroma was wonderful, making my stomach grumble happily. Finding a spoon, he brought the soup back to the table. His lashes lifted, moss green eyes meeting mine.
I drew in shaky breath. “Did you make the soup?”
Nick nodded once more.
“Oh. I . . .” I couldn’t believe he had brought me soup, let alone taken the time to make it himself. All of this was so incredibly sweet and extremely unexpected; I couldn’t speak. I just stood there, staring at him like an idiot.
The hollows under his high cheekbones turned pink. “It’s not that hard.”
“I don’t know how to make chicken soup from scratch.”
A small smiled pulled at his striking features. “Maybe I’ll teach you one day.”
“You really made me soup?”
The smile spread as he ducked his chin. “Yeah, I did. You going to sit and eat it? I promise it will make your stomach feel better.”
In a daze, I shuffled over to the table. My stomach was twisting again, but it had nothing to do with the nausea I’d felt earlier in the day. I sat at the table, and honest to God, I was moved to the point where I wasn’t even thinking of his douchey behavior in the bar.
“Thank you,” I said, my voice strangely hoarse. “I mean it. Thank you.”
“It’s no biggie.” He handed over a spoon. “Eat up.”
My fingers brushed his as I took the spoon. The shiver that raced up my arm was hard to ignore as I scooped up some noodles, steaming broth, and a chunk of chicken. My taste buds practically orgasmed. “It’s delicious.” I glanced up, my eyes wide. “I can taste something kind of minty.”
Nick folded his arms. “You look so surprised. I’m actually a damn good cook.”
“I am not doubting that now.” I swallowed another mouthful, biting back a moan.
His lashes lowered, shielding his eyes. “I thought I could bring it by before I headed up to Reece’s. I’m a little early, but he’ll be okay—”
“You don’t have to leave,” I said in a rush, and then felt the tips of my ears burning. “I mean, if you want to hang out here for a little bit, you can.”
Nick’s eyes met mine and then lowered as he slid onto the seat across from me. He rested his arms on the table. “How are you feeling?”
“Better. The nausea settled this afternoon, but this soup is really helping.” I was eating like I hadn’t been fed in days. “You didn’t bring some for yourself?”
“What’s left in the container is yours. I ate earlier.” He leaned back in the small dining chair, exhaling softly. “I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
I paused long enough to smile and then I finished off the bowl. Standing, I carried it to the sink, washed the bowl out, and then placed it in the dishwasher. Turning around, my breath caught in my throat.
Nick had gotten up and followed me, moving so quietly that I hadn’t heard him. He was only a foot away, and if I moved a little to my right, we’d be in the same positions we’d been in that night.
My stomach hollowed in response. I so needed to stop thinking about that, but once I did, my brain latched on. My chest rose sharply. I could practically feel his hands on my sides, my hips . . . between my legs. God, was it hot in here? I tugged on the neckline of my sweater. I so needed to get my hormones under control. This was ridiculous.
But when I looked up, our gazes collided and I couldn’t look away. Heat swamped my senses, and my overactive imagination flooded me with memories of how he’d felt pressed against my back, him inside me, stretching me.
Nick tilted his head to the side, his gaze hooded as he changed his stance, spreading his legs. “Don’t look at me like that,” he said, voice gruff.
I blinked. “I’m not looking at you.”
His lips quirked up. “Besides the fact you’re looking right at me, you’re looking at me in that way.”