“Say goodnight, Kate,” I repeat and back away when I’m sure she has her feet under her.
“Goodnight, Kate.” She presses her fingertips to her mouth and watches me with wide green eyes for a long moment, then turns and walks into her loft, locking the door behind her.
It’s too hot in here. I jerk my right leg out from under the covers and roll to my left side, staring into the darkness. I swear I can still taste Eli, but it’s been hours since that crazy kiss on the balcony.
He confuses me unlike anyone I’ve ever met, including Daniel. It’s clear that he’s attracted to me, and let’s face it, it’s reciprocated. But he’s fighting it as if he’s almost afraid of it.
How could he possibly be afraid of me?
And, honestly, it’s probably for the best that he fight it, and I should be fighting it too. I’m only here for six weeks, tops. I love his siblings as if they were my own, and sleeping with Eli could make things awkward.
Although, things seem to be awkward already, so that’s probably not a great argument.
Now I’m too bloody cold.
I pull the covers back over me and roll onto my back, staring at the ceiling. A car drives by outside, sending light and shadows over the walls, and then my phone pings next to me.
I frown and reach for it. Who the heck is texting me in the middle of the night?
I’m thinking of you.
I bite my lip and reply. Why are you awake?
A moment later, he responds with: Because I’m thinking of you.
And now I’m too hot. I whip my covers off me, but before I can reply to him, he sends another message. Did I wake you?
Why are you awake?
I shrug, even though he can’t see me.
His next message makes me smile. Do you need anything?
I shake my head and answer. No.
Are you only going to give one word answers?
I laugh. I have lots of words for you, but for now? Yes.
It takes a minute for his response. Long enough for me to get too cold and then too hot and too cold again.
Okay, then just listen. I enjoy making you smile. Your smile slays me. You taste sweeter than any beignet, and I want to spend more time with you tomorrow after work.
I sigh, suddenly way too warm, and it has nothing to do with the temperature in the room, and everything to do with this confusing man.
Are you trying to charm me?
I bite my lip as I wait for his response.
I giggle and turn on my side. Now he’s giving me the one-word answers.
It might be working. What do you have in mind for after work?
I grin and bite my lip as I wait for his answer. I have many things in mind.
Oh, flirty Eli is so fun!
I look forward to hearing about those things.
Meet me on the balcony?
I want to say yes, jump up, and run out there to see him, just for a few minutes, but instead, I take a deep breath and reply with: No, thank you. Say goodnight, Eli.
My eyes are getting heavy as I wait for his response. Finally, long minutes later, he replies.
When I woke up this morning, there were no more text messages from Eli. I almost thought I’d dreamed them, but when I looked, there they were.
He likes making me smile.
And now that I stop to think about it, he does make me smile. Quite often, actually. He has the best smile, and when he laughs, his whole face lights up, showing off a small dimple in his right cheek. His whiskey eyes are intoxicating, and when he pins me in his sexy I-want-you stare, well, he makes my panties melt right off me.
Yeah, I enjoy making him smile too.
“Earth to Kate.” I blink rapidly and glance up to find Hilary laughing at me.
“Hon, you were a million miles away.”
I cringe and glance at my computer, which has been idle so long it went to sleep.
“Yeah, daydreaming. Sorry.” I smile and gesture for her to sit in the chair across from me. “What can I do for you?”
“Oh, nothing. I decided to take my lunch break a few minutes early and come see how you’re gettin’ on here.”
“Is it lunch time already?” I check my watch, and sure enough, the day is half gone. “Wow, time flies. I’m doing well. How are you?”
“Oh, I’m just fine.” Hilary pats her pretty blonde hair and grins. “I had a date on Friday.”
“Really? How did that go?”
“Well, it ended on Sunday afternoon, so I’d say it went well.”
We both giggle, and suddenly there’s a delivery boy at my doorway. “Miss O’Shaughnessy?”
“I have your lunch order here.”
I frown, but quickly recover, playing along. I don’t want Hilary to suspect anything.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Nothin’, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
There’s a note stapled to the plain brown paper bag.
This should hold you over until tonight.
I tuck the note in my pocket, my heart suddenly beating fast and doing the happy dance in my head, as Hilary watches with blatant curiosity. I open the bag and practically groan.
“Shrimp po’ boy and red beans and rice,” I announce. “I can’t eat all of this. Please, tell me you’ll stay and help me.”
“I’ve never passed up a po’ boy,” Hilary says with a grin, as I split everything in half and we settle in to eat at my desk.
“So, tell me more about this two-day date.” I take a bite of my sandwich and sigh with happiness. The man does feed me the best food.
“Well, his name is Louis, which made me think that he’d be a bit of a geek at first. I mean, his name is Louis.”
I nod as I chew, and chuckle as Hilary gets the dopey I-got-laid look on her face.
“Where did you meet him?”
“Online.” She blushes and then shrugs. “Once you reach a certain age, it’s hard to meet people.”
“You can’t be more than thirty,” I reply, and take a heaping bite of the red beans and rice.
“I’m thirty-two. No, not old, but I work all the time, and it’s not like I go to school or meet new people all the time. So, I’m doing the online thing. So far, it doesn’t suck.”
“What does Louis do?”
“Well, he does this thing with his tongue—”
“Ew! No, what does he do for a living?” I laugh and throw a plastic-wrapped spork at her, making her giggle.