Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(11) by Susan Mallery
“Good to know.”
His gaze never wavered and nothing about his expression changed. She wished she could say the same about herself, but no. Even as she stood there, she felt heat climbing her cheeks. No doubt she’d turned bright red. Perhaps because the poor man had never indicated he was interested in her at all. He’d asked for a meal, not a night of hot monkey sex.
“Oh, God,” she breathed. “Not that you asked or anything. I’m just—”
He held up one hand to stop her. “Elissa. Quit while you’re ahead.”
“I get the message.”
“I understand why you said it. I respect your honesty. Sleep easy. I won’t make a pass at you.”
Which should have made her happy, but she wasn’t sure if he was being agreeable or making fun of her. If only she could slink away and start this day over.
She cleared her throat. “Did you want some chili and corn bread?”
“Yes, but I’ll come down and get a plate. I don’t want to disturb your dinner plans.”
“You mean you want the food but you won’t be joining us?”
“Is that a problem?”
A surprise maybe, but not a problem. “Whatever you’d prefer.”
“Okay. Let me grab a bowl and a plate and I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“You don’t have to do that. I have plates.”
“This way I don’t have to return them.”
She winced. Definitely mocking her, she thought glumly. Truth be told, she’d earned it. She turned and walked down to her apartment.
Easy solution, she thought. She’d stop talking to the man. That would increase her odds of not making a fool out of herself. She would also add to her “next life” list. In addition to money, she seriously needed to explore the possibility of being slightly less outspoken.
THE ALARM RANG at 4:00 a.m., as it did every weekday morning. Elissa got up immediately—she’d learned her body cooperated better while it was still in shock over the predawn hour. If she hit the snooze button, she was at risk of never getting out of bed.
She showered, then wrapped her hair in a towel while she applied the barest touch of makeup. Tinted moisturizer, mascara, lip gloss. After dressing in her Eggs ’n’ Stuff uniform, she ran the blow-dryer until she’d passed from wet to damp, then combed her hair and put it in a quick ponytail. At four-thirty, she walked into the kitchen and inhaled the scent of brewing coffee.
Whoever had invented timers on coffee machines deserved an award, or, at the very least, a star named in his or her honor. As Elissa reached for a mug, she heard a very distinct thump from overhead.
The sound was loud and out of place. The moan that followed made her shiver.
Something was going on upstairs. Something she should ignore. Except there was a second thump and a louder moan.
What if Walker had fallen and hurt himself? He looked to be in too good a shape for that, but he could have slipped or fallen while drunk.
She hesitated between not wanting to get involved and knowing she couldn’t leave Zoe until she knew everything was all right. After quickly checking on her daughter, who was still sleeping soundly, Elissa grabbed her trusty baseball bat from the hall closet and hurried upstairs.
She knocked briskly, then announced herself in case he was in the throes of some war-induced hallucination. She didn’t want him to shoot or maim her in his confusion.
When he didn’t answer right away, she knocked again, louder this time, then winced as the sharp sound cut through the quiet of the night.
Finally the door opened. Walker stood there wearing nothing but rumpled pj bottoms. His chest was bare, he needed a shave, and for once his eyes weren’t hiding his feelings. He was amused as hell.
“So much for not wanting to get into my bed,” he said.
She glared at him. “You were thunking and moaning. It’s four-thirty in the morning. What was I supposed to think?”
The humor faded. “Seriously?” he asked.
“I do not make this stuff up.”
He looked at the baseball bat. “Was that to take me out or to protect me from whatever was happening?”
“I hadn’t decided.”
“It’s been a long time since someone came to my rescue.” His lips twitched as if he were fighting the need to grin.
Ha-ha. Yeah, this was a laughfest. She couldn’t believe he was fine.
“So you’re all right,” she muttered. “Great. I won’t bother you again.”
She turned to leave, but he grabbed her arm. When she glanced at him, the humor had faded.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking as if he meant it. “I was having a bad dream. I woke up on the floor. I guess I thrashed around until I fell. It was good of you to worry about me.”
She sighed. “But unnecessary.”
“I could pretty much take anyone.”
“I appreciate you coming to my rescue.”
She pulled free of his touch. “Now you’re mocking me.”
At that moment, her entire hormonal system stirred to life and noticed there was a half-naked man standing very, very close. Elissa felt the chemicals pouring through her body. Wanting exploded as her girl parts got hard or melty, depending on their placement. All this and she hadn’t even had her coffee.
“I need caffeine,” she muttered.
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