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“A walk is a good idea. From what I remember from last time, the walk to your bedroom is really long. It took us a long time to get there. That seems like the perfect length for a walk to me.”

She smiled up at him.

“Whatever you say, doctor.”

He stood and took her hands to pull her up off the couch.

Chapter Twelve

. . . . . . .

“You should be honored. My friends were very nice to you tonight,” Nik said.

Carlos and Nik were walking to his car the following Friday night. He’d texted her before leaving the hospital to see if she wanted to go out, and she’d texted him back that she was out with her friends, and he should come join them. He’d really wanted to see her, so he went. But that had made him nervous that this was more than a casual hookup thing to her.

Maybe he should talk to her about it, even though he hated bringing up stuff like that. But they’d been seeing kind of a lot of each other, and he didn’t want her to get the wrong idea. After the taqueria last Friday night, he’d hung out at her house well into Saturday afternoon. And then they’d met up for burgers on Tuesday night and gone back to her place for some healthy adult exercise. And they’d been texting a lot this week. Were they spending too much time together?

Granted, she didn’t act like the women he’d gone out with in the past who had wanted to be his girlfriend: she hadn’t insisted on weekend plans far in advance or pushed him to invite her over to his house or told him he was the kind of guy who would be a great father. But making him spend an hour with her and her friends when she knew all he wanted was to be taking her clothes off was getting close.

“That was them being nice?” he asked. He was sort of kidding, but . . . only sort of.

She laughed.

“They only quizzed you for like five minutes.”

It had felt like far longer.

Sure, he’d met her friends right after the baseball game, but that was before they’d started sleeping together. Did this whole “come meet me and my friends” thing mean she was getting the wrong idea about what he wanted here?

If he had to end things with her, he was going to be so mad. He hadn’t had sex this good, with someone he actually enjoyed spending time with in . . . shit, since he could remember.

“Courtney gave you more than one compliment. That’s basically a declaration of lifelong devotion coming from her.”

When he’d told her how much he’d liked her spicy cupcake, she had told him that said something good about his character.

“Well, I’m glad, I guess, but please don’t kill me if I say I’m glad they both had to get up early tomorrow morning so I could get you alone.”

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye and smiled.

“That sounds promising. What did you have in mind?”

He grinned as they approached his car.

“Well, you know me. Before I do anything strenuous, I need a good dinner. What are you in the mood for?”

“Do you want to go out? Or get takeout?”

He put his arm around her.

“I can do either, but the idea of takeout on your couch sounds pretty great right now. It’s been a long week.”

She put her arms around his waist, and he pulled her close.

“How’s your cousin doing? Everything okay there?”

He nodded.

“Thanks for asking. She’s hanging in there, but I’m always on edge about it. Every time I get a call from anyone in my family, I jump. I would say that I can’t wait for this to be over, except that the best outcome is for it to be like this for another nine or ten weeks, which seems unbearable right now.”

He sighed and opened the passenger door for her.

“Thanks for listening to me ramble about my family, I appreciate it. I can’t really talk to them about it, because then they all flip out.”

She leaned over to kiss him when he got in the car. The kiss lasted for a long time.

“Ramble all you want,” she said. “You just held up very well under cross-examination from my two best friends, so I owe you a night of lots of listening, something fun on the TV, and . . .”

He cocked his head to the side.

“And?”

“And whatever else you ask for,” she said.

He grinned. He would worry about the other stuff later.

* * *

• • •

Nik woke up early the next morning, with Carlos sound asleep against her. Good God, this guy was fun. He had certainly taken her “whatever else you ask for” to heart, with very good results.

She turned back toward him and he nuzzled against her neck.

“Mmm, so you are awake,” she said.

“I’m not awake. I’m having the most fantastic dream.”

He had such a scratchy voice first thing in the morning. Just hearing it gave her goose bumps.

“What kind of dream?”

He ran his hand from her knee up her leg to her hip and rested his whole palm against her butt.

“I’m in bed with this incredibly sexy woman, for starters.”

God, she liked it when he touched her.

“Mmm, tell me about her.”

His hands kept moving up and down her body. They stopped to linger at her breasts, and she closed her eyes and sighed.

“Oh, she’s something else. She’s smart, she’s funny, she surprises me at every turn, and her body . . . I just can’t get enough of it.”

That was definitely an excellent thing to hear from a man who woke up in your bed.

“She sounds incredible. Tell me more about the dream.”

He pushed her onto her back and knelt above her.

“In my dream, we had amazing sex last night . . . multiple times, actually. God, what a great dream this has already been. And now . . .” He leaned down to kiss her mouth. “And now, if I’m lucky, we might get to do it again. Oh wow, I hope I don’t wake up.”

She played with his hair and relaxed at his touch.

“I hope you don’t, either.”

Now his mouth was on her breasts, and she sighed.

“Mmmmm. This is a great way to not wake up; I’ve got to say.”

“Mmmmm?” He lifted his head. “Oh, you like that? I think there’s an even better way to not wake up. Let me see if you agree.”

He threw the covers to the foot of the bed and pushed her legs apart. She looked down at his head between her legs and grinned.

“Oh, I think I like this dream of yours a whole lot. Do you think you’ll—OH MY GOD.”

Those were the last discernable words she said for a long time.

When they both finally caught their breath, he kissed her cheek.

“Okay, you’re going to think I’m crazy saying this after all of that food we ate last night, but . . . I’m starving.”

She laughed into his chest.

“Well, you did have lots of good, healthy physical activity. It makes sense that that would make you hungry.”

He rolled on top of her and tickled her.

“Oh, you’re making fun of me now? Just for that, I’m going to make you breakfast.” He sat up. “That is, if you have anything I can cook?”

She nodded.

“I went to the store the other day. There should be stuff in there. I’ll make the coffee.”

He pulled on boxers and went to investigate her kitchen. She grabbed a robe out of her closet and went to the bathroom before joining him. By the time she got there, he had a pile of food on her counter.

“Are you going to make all of that?” She opened the coffee maker and pulled out yesterday’s filter and tossed it in the garbage.

“I’m deciding what to cook. A true artist takes time at his work.”

She turned on her coffee grinder and scooped grounds into the fresh filter.

“Okay, Picasso. I make coffee strong; that okay with you?”

He laughed while he pulled bowls out of her cabinet.

“That’s fine, but if I had said no, what were you going to do? I already know you wouldn’t have made weaker coffee for me.”

She poured water in the machine and turned it on.

“No, I would have just made sure you didn’t use all the milk in whatever you’re cooking in case you needed a lot of it for your cup.”

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