Hayes entered the kitchen and came up short. Alexa had the back door propped open while she examined the screen door. She muttered under her breath and Hayes couldn’t make out quite what she was saying, but she seemed extremely determined in whatever it was she was doing.
Intrigued about what she was attempting, Hayes crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame leading from the hall to the kitchen. Alexa opened the screen wider, then eased it back. She fiddled with the spring at the top and slid the stopper along the bar in the middle. Then she eased the door back and forth again.
Hayes chewed on the inside of his lip and tried not to focus on how slender her shoulders were beneath his T-shirt, or how she’d had to fold the waistband and the cuffs of the pants just so they’d somewhat fit. The stirring of normal emotions felt so foreign, he was starting to wonder if she’d put a spell on him. How could one voluptuous woman with eyes dark as night be so enthralling?
Her long black hair had started to dry and hung in ropelike waves down her back. He clenched his fists against his chest and ignored the fantasy of how silky all that hair would feel sliding between his fingertips…because he’d never know. Letting his mind wander was a moot point.
Alexa shifted slightly and met his eyes. Her hands stilled on the door as she slowly brought it to a close. The pounding rain blew in on his back porch and the porch swing tapped a rhythm against the side of the house.
“Sorry. I just… I thought maybe I could fix the door and keep it from slamming so hard.”
Even though her eyes never wavered from his, the rest of her body language showed she was completely nervous. She wrapped her arms around her waist, pulling the material tighter and showcasing the fact that she wore nothing beneath his shirt.
His body betrayed him and stirred with arousal.
“Do you often go around fixing stranger’s doors?”
She tipped her head and offered a slight grin. “I’m wearing your clothes, so I’m not sure how much of a stranger you are. Besides, I fixed my own door at home, so I thought I could work on yours.”
He could fix the damn thing himself, but he’d just gotten used to closing it softly, and not fixing it was more about the principle now. He wasn’t about to let that door win. It was a damn door and he refused to be intimidated by it.
Besides, it wasn’t like anyone ever stopped by. Occasionally his brothers would drop in, but usually they were in the old barn or Hayes saw them down at the main stables. With his house tucked away on the farthest corner of the property, there wasn’t much use for anyone to come back here. All the livestock were kept on the west side more toward Nolan’s home.
“Are you that bored?” he asked.
She stepped further into the kitchen, shutting the oak door at her back and drowning out the sound of the rain pelting the back porch. “I didn’t want to get in your way. When you left a while ago, it seemed like you were angry that I was here.”
Angry? No. Frustrated, sexually charged and confused as hell? Absolutely.
“I’m not angry with you.”
He needed her to know that. It wasn’t her fault she was stuck here with a guy who couldn’t handle a door closing and who had the social skills of a wooden spoon.
Hayes remained in the doorway as she crossed the room. The way those curves moved beneath his clothes was so ridiculously hot. He hadn’t been with a woman since his ex, but he hadn’t been looking, either.
Yet here Alexa stood, all barefoot in his kitchen with her black hair down and those dark eyes showing way too much.
The woman couldn’t hide her emotions and she wavered from vulnerable to turned on to unsure. And damn if all of those crystal clear emotions didn’t make him want to pick her up and drag her to his room. He wanted to protect her, to figure out why she went from sassy to insecure in the span of seconds, and he wanted to kiss the hell out of those unpainted lips.
Damn her for calling him on that earlier. She’d pegged him…which only made him want her all the more.
“What are your plans for the kitchen?” she asked, stopping just in front of him.
Her random question threw him off. “My plans?”
“You said you’re renovating,” she reminded him. “And someone with that coffee setup surely has a grand idea of what he wants done in here.”
Hayes pushed off the door and eased around her. How pathetic to be running from a curvaceous woman who was utterly harmless. Well, she wasn’t exactly harmless or he wouldn’t be so anxious. She made him achy and needy and he sure as hell did not like this unfamiliar emotional place he was in. Not one bit.
Hayes went to the coffee station he’d temporarily set up and poured himself a steaming mug. “I have plenty of plans, but everything takes time.”
“What have you done so far in the rest of the house?” she asked as she turned to face him.
“Master bedroom and bath.”
He was pretty proud of how the work had turned out. He’d done everything himself, often at night when he couldn’t sleep.
“What are you working on next?” she asked.
Hayes shrugged. “You planning on pitching in?”