As she spoke, she looked outside, but the rain continued to beat the house. Alexa seemed lost in her own fantasy, as if she saw beyond the rain. Was life that simple? Could he look beyond the storm and see the other side?
“I think the house calls for an old farm table in the kitchen,” she went on. “Or at least a long bar where friends or family can gather and eat in one room. My parents don’t live around here, so I wouldn’t have many visitors.”
She stared down at her plate as she continued. “Growing up, we were constantly hosting family for dinner. Not only on holidays, but just because. That’s part of my heritage. My father’s family came from Puerto Rico. We gather together and fix an insane amount of food. I miss having a big house that I can fill with my family and friends. Sometimes I like to get together with my friends from work.”
“What is it that you do?”
The question slipped past before his common sense could stop it. He shouldn’t ask such things. He worried she’d get the impression he wanted more.
But he hated that longing in her tone. Hated that she was missing her family and the bond that obviously ran deep. He understood that all too well.
“I’m a special education preschool teacher.”
Of all the things she could’ve said, he didn’t expect that, but on the other hand he wasn’t surprised. Alexa was a giver, so a teacher of children with special needs definitely made sense. He hadn’t known her long at all, but he knew those kids were damn lucky to have a teacher like her.
“Sounds like a rewarding job.”
A soft smile slid over her perfect mouth. “I love what I do.”
And it showed in the way her eyes lit up and love laced her tone. There were certain things Alexa was extremely passionate about: her family, her son and her work. The similarities between them were starting to hit too close to home and he had to keep reminding himself they were stuck here and making the most of the situation. This wasn’t some get-to-know-you start of a relationship.
“Working with children sounds terrifying.”
“Says the man who served overseas,” she retorted with a wide grin. “What did you do? Or can you tell me?”
“I was a paratrooper in the US Army.”
When her brows rose, his ego volleyed up a notch. “You jumped out of planes and you think a room full of children are scary?”
With a shrug, he came to his feet and closed the space between them. “We all have our talents,” he said, taking her hands and pulling her to stand before him.
“What are you doing?”
Hell if he knew, but he was going with his gut. Okay, he might be leading into this with another body part, but he wanted this woman and why should they deny it?
“Figured I’d show you more of my talents.”
Her lips quirked up as she looped her arms around his neck. “Lead the way, soldier.”
He reached to his back pocket and pulled out protection. “I grabbed it when I left the bedroom earlier. I wasn’t sure where I’d want to ravage you again.”
Dark eyes went from the foil wrapper in his hand back to his face. “Sure of yourself?”
Hayes lifted her off her feet and headed to the covered sofa. “Hell yeah, I am.”
Alexa toweled off and slid into another of Hayes’s shirts. She found herself becoming more comfortable in his clothes than her own. He’d definitely delivered on those promised talents, both in the study and in the shower.
Now he was outside assessing the rising water and checking on the horses. He’d made her promise she wouldn’t come out because there was no sense in both of them getting soaked again.
She made him promise that if he needed help he’d come back and tell her and not be so hardheaded. Alexa worried with the storm still raging that the thunder would thrust him back to the darkness inside his mind, but she had to let him go on his own. She wasn’t his keeper. She wasn’t even his girlfriend, so hovering was not going to fly with this sexy cowboy. Besides, once she left he’d be on his own to handle matters his way.
Two stubborn souls trapped together proved to be quite the tug-of-war.
Yet they matched each other in bed and out. She shouldn’t be thinking of all the ways they blended and complemented each other, but she couldn’t help herself.
Alexa padded barefoot back into the bedroom and started adjusting the covers. Her body heated all over again as she recalled exactly what they’d done here hours ago.
But her heart clenched as night fell and she worried about Mason. Even if she’d been next door at the B and B, nighttime would still be difficult. She’d laid out his favorite book for Sadie to read him after his bath, but Alexa just wanted to hear his voice.
More than likely this separation was more difficult for her than for Mason. He was probably playing, watching his favorite cartoons and keeping Sadie on her feet.
What she and Hayes had going on was as simple as it was complicated. Bringing her son into the mix, other than just speaking of him and showing off pictures, was just another layer of intimacy that probably wasn’t a smart idea.
This was all so temporary. She definitely wasn’t ready to bring anyone home to meet her son or step up to play Daddy.