He heard her ask his sister, "Can you give me your wireless security code?"
"Sure." Jordan barely looked up from her scarf as she rattled off the letters and number. "What do you need to look up?"
"This pattern Grandma gave me is ridiculously difficult to follow."
Jordan looked over at it. "It's like another language."
"No kidding. Thank God for the Internet. Did you know that you can watch videos to learn how to do this kind of sweater?"
"Cool. Can I see?"
They shifted closer together as Sarah brought up a video. The two people he loved most in the world were sitting together, working side by side on his couch, in the home he'd built with his own two hands. Happiness flooded him, pushing around his insides.
And then from out of nowhere, he had a vision of Sarah in a sleek white dress, holding a bouquet, walking down the aisle to say, "I do." And she was the most beautiful bride in the world.
Calvin ran a hand over the lower half of his face, sucking in a breath, working to push the vision aside. But he couldn't do it.
Not when he wanted to make that vision real more than he'd ever wanted anything. Because everything he'd seen in Sarah when they were kids--her sweetness, her beauty, her intelligence, her strength, her courage--was still there now, a hundred times over.
It wasn't until he heard the sauce sputtering in the pot that he finally moved back to the stove. Turning down the heat, stirring his sauce with a wooden spoon, he said, "Come and get it."
"I'm starved," Sarah said as she took her seat at the dining table. She ran her fingers over the polished wood top. "Did you make this too?"
"He makes tons of stuff," Jordan said. "All of my friends' mothers are constantly asking him to come over to help them with things."
Sarah's eyebrows rose. "Really?"
He thought he saw a flash of jealousy in her pretty blue eyes. Good. Maybe realizing she didn't want anyone else to have him would help her realize that she did.
They all ate in silence for a while, and then as he did every night, Calvin asked Jordan if there was anything she needed help with on her homework.
She shook her head, proudly telling him, "I got a hundred percent on my spelling test today."
They high-fived, and Calvin realized Sarah had stopped eating and was staring at them, her eyes full of longing.
"May I be excused?" Jordan asked.
Calvin looked at his sister's plate. She'd eaten more than half, which was pretty good. "Sure. Go get ready for bed. I'll be in soon."
Jordan scooted her chair away from the table, put her plate in the sink, and was practically out of the room when she turned back. "Thanks for showing me that stuff on the computer and also how to finish the scarf, Sarah."
Sarah smiled. "You're welcome. It looks awesome. Owen's going to love it."
When he heard the bathroom door close and the water turn on in the sink, Calvin said, "She likes you."
Calvin couldn't stop the visions of more dinners like this, lunches and breakfasts too. He knew he was moving too fast, that he'd barely gotten the woman he loved back into his bed. Who knew what it would take to get her to agree to white lace and school plays? But he'd waited so long already. Ten years was just too damn long. He didn't want to wait another hour.
"You really are a fantastic cook," she said. "Where did you learn?"
He forced his brain back to the here and now. "All around the lake." Hoping to see that spark of jealousy again, he said, "Women kept inviting me over for cooking lessons."
"Any excuse to have you over," she muttered, right on cue.
He had managed to keep his hands off her so far tonight. But now that it was just the two of them alone in his dining room, he was done controlling himself.
Scooting his chair closer to hers, he reached over and slid a lock of her hair around his index finger. "Jealous?"
"Liar." He was grinning as he stood up. "I need to go kiss Jordan good night."
"And then I'd appreciate it if you drove me home."
Calvin knew better than to respond, knew she was itching for an argument, to have a concrete reason to leave--when they both knew she really wanted to stay. So he simply stacked their plates and took them into the kitchen on his way to Jordan's room.
But before he headed down the hall, he looked back into the dining room. Sarah was still sitting in her seat, the lock of hair he'd wound around his finger wound around hers now.
A surge of pure male satisfaction rode him. He liked that his touch, even the barest, lightest one, could make her lose her place, could stop her in her tracks for at least a few seconds.
Tonight he planned to make her forget everything.
Everything but how perfectly they fit together.
Full of nervous energy, Sarah cleaned off the table, loaded the dishwasher, and washed the remaining dishes. When the countertops were so clean that she could practically see her reflection in them, she walked over to the couch and sat down next to her knitting.
How could her grandmother have possibly thought she had the skills to finish this sweater? And yet, Sarah couldn't stand the thought of letting her down. Helping out at the store for a few days was one thing. Tackling this sweater, she could already see, was another thing entirely. Sarah knew how to run a business, but dealing with multiple strands of yarn while trying to knit them into an intricate pattern was going to take some serious concentration.
Normally, Sarah thought as she picked up the needles and pattern and tried to make sense of them again, she was a master of concentration. But when Calvin was around, her thoughts ended up fluttering around like little lost butterflies.
He had gently accused her of not telling the truth earlier about being jealous of the women who swarmed around him. He was right. She wasn't a liar. It was just that these feelings were confusing.
As soon as he finished putting Jordan to bed, Sarah needed to head back to her own bed too. If she were smart, she would get out of his house right now, swim across the cold lake if she had to, put some distance between them before she did something stupid again. Before she made another--bigger--mistake by giving in to feelings that couldn't possibly make rational sense.
But she couldn't leave without at least saying thank you for dinner and good night, could she?
The train of her thoughts was too dangerous for her to keep following them. This impossible sweater in her lap, for all its difficulty, was much safer.
Denise had marked where she'd left off on the pattern in the hospital, and Sarah forced herself to begin there, to take one stitch and then another. She couldn't let herself look any farther ahead than one stitch. Couldn't let herself worry about whether or not she'd be able to get to the end without it being a mass of holes and tangles. Couldn't worry about making sure the sweater turned out perfectly. Because if she did any of those things, she might as well save herself time and frustration by stuffing the yarn,
needles, and pattern into the garbage can right now.
"Seeing you with those needles makes me realize how much you look like your grandmother." Calvin's warm voice caressed her spine, made her skin tingle all over.
How long had he been standing there by the door, staring at her with those dark eyes? She'd been so focused on trying to pull in the correct strands of yarn that she hadn't realized he had come in.
His large hands were hooked into the pockets of his jeans, and a small shiver ran through her as she was filled with the foolish anticipation of having them on her again...and that dark, sinful gaze shining with love for her as she came apart in his arms.
"Your eyes must be playing tricks on you," she finally replied. "I don't look anything like them."
"Do you really not see it?"
"My mother and grandmother are so small and feminine. They've always been able to make the most beautiful things with their hands. Not just with yarn, but with paint and fabric." She loved them both, so very much, but she'd still always felt a world apart from them. Not only did they have curves she'd never inherited, but they'd always chosen to live happily on a small scale, whereas she never stopped shooting for big. Just like her father had taught her. "I've never fit in with them."
"You have your grandmother's eyes." Calvin knelt in front of her, his knuckles brushing against her cheekbone. "Only yours are brighter." He brushed the pad of his thumb across her lower lip. "You have the same mouth as your mother, only your lips are plumper." He slid his thumb down to her chin. "But this chin is all your own. So stubborn." He brought his mouth closer to hers. "So sweet."
A lump had formed in her throat at everything he saw, all the things no one else ever had. "You know just what to say," she whispered against his mouth. "And just how to say it."
"No, I don't." She lifted her eyes to his in surprise. "If I did, I'd know what to say to get you to stay for more than one night at a time. For more than a week or two before heading back to the city."
The air grew still between them, the tension riding high at his words, at their barely banked desire for each other, at the control she was constantly trying to exercise over it. She had to pull away, walk away from this. From him. She needed to do it right now. She should have done it last night.