“You’re going?” I think I sound casual, but I can’t be sure. I’m too off balance to gage it.
She plops the bag down on the couch to put her hair in a ponytail. “I need to do some laundry.”
“You can do it here.” Smooth. That didn’t sound at all needy.
She gives me a quick smile. “I know. But I’m kind of sick of these clothes too.”
Right. Well, there goes that argument.
Walking with her usual casual grace, she heads for the kitchen. “After breakfast, I think I’ll head home and get a few things done.”
I flick the back of my nail against my orange juice glass. “Okay.”
I don’t know what is wrong with me. I like my solitude. Anna ought to be able to take off whenever she wants. And I ought to be fine with that. I just know that the moment she walks out of this house, she’ll take the sunshine of my day with her.
A loud, long buzz sounds, and the scent of coffee fills the air. The espresso maker. Gray brought it back earlier, pretending he’d been borrowing it while I was laid up in the hospital, a lie for which I’m still extremely grateful. Especially when Anna squealed over the thing like a kid on Christmas morning and tackled me when I’d told her I had bought it for her.
Anna takes her newly filled cup over to the counter and sits on one of the bar stools. She’s wearing a white muscle shirt and boy short panties. It’s f**king hot. I’m tempted to push the top over her br**sts and suck the sweet tips, but there’s a pit in my stomach that won’t go away.
Oblivious of my souring mood, Anna rakes a tumble of curls from her face and takes a sip of coffee. “Tonight I’m going to go out with Iris and George.” She eyes me, and I don’t miss the hesitation in her expression. “You ought to go out too. Maybe hang with your friends. Dex keeps calling.”
She’s afraid I’ll become a hermit. Too late.
Unrepentant, she grins. “It’s one of my many qualities.”
I snort. “Fine. I’ll go out.” I don’t want to, but I’ll be damned if I’ll give her a reason to start pitying me.
“Good.” She grabs a banana, frowns at it, then puts it down before hoping off the stool. Her pert ass lifts in the air as she rummages around in the depths of the fridge. “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
My hand tightens on my glass.
“You can come back here tonight, Anna. It’s fine. You have a key.”
She doesn’t look at me as she helps herself to the yogurt. “Naw. It will be late.” Not something I care about. “And, anyway, I ought to get out of your hair for a while. Give you some space.”
Shit, her hands are moving too quickly, putting away the yogurt, messing with a dishrag, toying with the handle of her spoon. I watch her flutter about, and my heart sinks down into the cavity of my chest.
“Do you need space?” I say this as carefully as I can. But she still freezes like a caught thief and eyes me warily. I feel like we’ve stumbled onto a minefield.
“Do you?” she volleys back.
Despite my unease, a smile pulls at my lips. “Are we going to talk in circles now?”
Some of the starch leaves her shoulders. Her tilted smile mirrors mine. “Maybe. Why don’t you define your idea of space, and I’ll tell you mine.”
This is one of those girl traps, designed to leave you wide open to fall in a hole of your own making. I know it, and she knows it. But her direct gaze tells me I’d better answer or I’ll just fall into yet another hole. Damn female logic. I run a hand through my hair. “‘Space’ would be we do stuff together because we want to be together. We do stuff apart because we want to do stuff apart.”
Slowly she nods, her eyes never leaving mine. “I’d say the same.”
Some of the tension eases from my chest. “To be clear,” I tell her, “being with you is the highlight of my day.”
Anna bites the bottom of her lip, but she can’t hide the pleased expression blooming over her features. “You’re the highlight of my day too.”
It’s my turn to nod, not quite looking at her because I don’t want her to see my relief.
She’s staring at me again. “That isn’t all you want to say though, is it?” She waves an idle hand as if to draw the rest out of me. “Come on, I know there’s more.”
I grip the back of my neck. “Move in with me.” The words are out of my mouth before I even fully process them. And they hang there between us, a detonated smoke bomb that makes her squint at me.
Her mouth opens and closes before a weak “What?” rips from her throat.
I want to cringe. But I don’t back down, don’t look away. “I know you probably have tons of very good, very logical reasons that we shouldn’t live together so soon. Hell, I can think of a dozen right now. But here’s the thing—” my fingers spread wide on the counter, the granite cold beneath my palm “—in the beginning, I moved with caution, not wanting to spook you or push you—”
“And you don’t mind pushing me now?” she cuts in, her voice wry but with a wobbly smile. It’s that smile that gives me some hope that she won’t turn heel and run any second.
“That’s not it. I wasn’t honest with you then. With what I wanted.” I take a step closer, my hand trailing over the counter towards hers. “And everything went to hell.”
Dark shadows creep into her eyes. Guilt. I know this, but I’m not going to take back what I’ve said. I lower my voice, make it gentle, persuasive. “So I figure, I lay everything on the table now. Because, Anna,” my fingers touch her cold ones, and I thread them with mine, holding on tight, “when I said I wanted everything, that’s what I meant. I want to go to sleep with you, to wake up with you. Every day. The thought of you going home tonight, and me sleeping without you? I hate it.”