“He did,” he replies with a satisfied grin. “Did you enjoy it?”
“Yes, I loved it. I also shared it with a co-worker, because it was way too much food for just me.”
“And this handsome man? Do you like him?”
“Well, he can be frustrating, but he’s also fun and charming. Yes, I like him.”
His eyes heat as he watches me talk. His thumb is tracing circles over the back of my hand.
“Another lemon drop, miss?” Joe asks as he walks by.
“Yes, please.” Joe nods and leaves. “Thank you for lunch.”
“You’re welcome. I would have delivered it myself, but—”
“But people will talk.” I chuckle and shake my head. “It’s okay. It was a nice surprise.”
“I have to tell you, I’m a bit confused as to why I didn’t know you were recently divorced.” His face sobers with the change of conversation, and I cringe, the subject of my ex being the very last thing I want to talk about.
“It really isn’t a secret.” He raises a brow. “It’s been several months since the divorce was final, but I haven’t lived with him in more than two years, Eli. It’s not something I talk about freely, certainly not with someone I don’t know well.”
“Why did the divorce take so long?” he asks and leans back, but doesn’t let go of my hand. I eagerly sip the fresh drink that Joe just set at my elbow.
“Because Daniel is a selfish, proud, arrogant man who didn’t like having the word divorcee after his name. Well, until he was ready to marry again, anyway.”
“He’s remarried already?”
“One week after the divorce was final, yes.” I sigh and then just shrug. “Honestly, I didn’t care. I wasn’t in a position emotionally to be dating anyone, and the important thing was to simply not be living with him anymore. The rest was just gravy.”
“Did he hurt you?”
“Oh, he hurt me more than any one person should be allowed to hurt another,” I reply easily, but sip my drink to hide my face behind the glass for just a moment to gather my wits around me.
“Look at me.”
I raise my gaze to find Eli’s eyes hot with anger and his jaw ticking, but the hand holding mine is still amazingly tender. This man has amazing control.
“Did he hit you?”
“Fuck,” he whispers.
“But that wasn’t the worst part.”
He cocks his head and raises a brow when I don’t want to answer. My lips are starting to feel numb.
“These drinks are strong. They make my lips talk.”
His sexy lips quirk up in a smile. “They make your lips talk?”
“Okay, so keep talking. What was the worst part?”
I shake my head and finish the second drink, then signal to Joe for another. I can’t tell him the very worst part. Not yet. “He would yell at me. He was a bully. Sometimes it’s better if they just hit you once and then get on with their day.”
“Bullshit,” he says calmly. “I could teach you some self-defense, you know.”
“Oh, I took self defense classes.” I wave him off and drink the new lemon drop. “He used to call me a whore.” I giggle, barely noticing that Eli has pulled his hand away and curled it into a fist. “Which is actually pretty funny.”
“Why in the fucking hell is that funny?”
“Because, counting him, I’ve only been with…” I count in my fuzzy head. “Two and a half men. Hey, isn’t that a TV show?”
“How is it possible that you were with half of a man?” he asks with a surprised laugh.
“Because he never got it in. It didn’t count.” I slap my hand over my mouth and giggle. “These drinks are really delicious. You should have one.”
“That’s okay, one of us will have to get you up to your front door.”
“I can walk.” I compose my face and sit up straight. “See? I’m perfectly sober.”
“Right. So, back to what you were talking about. Why couldn’t he get it in?”
“Who couldn’t get what in?” I ask with a frown, and then prop my chin in my hand as I watch Eli smile across from me. “Gosh, you’re pretty.”
“Excuse me?” He laughs and tucks my hair behind my ear. His fingers feel good on my skin.
“I bet they’d feel good everywhere.”
“I think I just missed half of that conversation,” he replies. “You’re hilarious when you’ve had too much to drink. I think you’ve had enough.” He takes my drink away, earning a scowl from me.
“I have not.”
“What would feel good everywhere?” he asks, distracting me.
This makes him pause. He blinks rapidly, and if I’m not mistaken, all three of him blush.
“You’re blushing after what you said to me on the sidewalk?”
“I’m certainly not blushing,” he replies. “And, yes, I do believe my fingers would feel good everywhere.”
“I have no doubt,” I reply, and reach up to push his dark hair off his forehead. “You are pretty.”
“You already said that.”
“I think our sprouts are here,” he replies and kisses my hand before leaning away.
“Well, hello, Joe.” I smile up at the sexy waiter as he sets my food before me.
“Hello there,” he replies with a grin.
“You’re handsome,” I inform him. “May I please have another lemon drop?”
“You’re flirting with the waiter?” Eli asks with a laugh.
“He brings me delicious drinks,” I reply seriously and turn to Joe. “I would flirt with my date, but he took my drink away. That means no flirts for him.”
“I would be happy to bring you a water,” Joe replies and sets his hand on my shoulder. “And then another lemon drop after you get some food in you.”
“You have strong hands, Joe.” Eli growls next to me, but I ignore him. “Are you sure I can’t have just one little teeny tiny drink now?”
I bat my eyelashes, but Joe just laughs. Laughs! Maybe my flirter is broken.
“I’ll be right back with that water.”
“My flirter is broken.”
“No, it’s doing just fine,” Eli replies and holds a Brussels sprout up on the end of his fork for me to eat. “Try this.”