The front of Ryan’s truck stuck out from the back of her house. What on earth was he doing parked on the grass behind her house?
Piper pulled right up in front of the garage and grabbed her purse. As she walked around the side of the house, her back door was propped wide open and Ryan’s signature heavy-metal music was blaring out into the yard. He obviously had a warped mind if he considered that yelling music.
But she had her favorite bands and he had his. Heavy metal was by far his favorite type of music and Pantera was his all-time favorite band.
Music was one area they definitely did not agree on, but if that was the man’s only flaw, well then, she had a true winner on her hands. Good thing she didn’t have too-close neighbors.
She stepped into her kitchen and her purse dropped to the floor with a thud. Ryan jerked around, smiled and reached over to turn down his radio.
“You’re home earlier than I thought,” he told her, resting his hands on his narrow hips. “I was hoping to be finished here.”
Piper didn’t know what she wanted to stare at more: Ryan with his shirt off, sweat glistening in each and every dip and crevice around his pecs and abs, or the brand-new cabinets he’d installed.
And not just any cabinets, but the ones she’d wanted originally. The crazy-expensive ones she’d denied herself because they were way out of her budget.
As if her emotions needed another hit today. Piper’s tear button was pressed again and she cupped her mouth to keep from making a total fool of herself. Her damn quivering chin was a dead giveaway and she was such an ugly crier with a red, snotty nose, puffy eyes and blotchy skin. Yeah, she certainly wasn’t turning any heads with that frightening look.
“Red, it’s just cabinets.” Ryan crossed the room and took hold of her shoulders, forcing her to look at him. “I didn’t mean to make you cry. I thought you’d be excited.”
Piper shook her head, taking in a deep breath. “I can’t believe you did this, Ryan. It’s...it’s... Why did you change the order?”
He shrugged. “Because this is what you wanted.”
Damn it, she wanted to be upset with him, but how could she when his sole reason for doing this was to make her happy? His reasoning was so simple, so selfless. And that’s exactly how he’d been his whole life from the moment he’d walked up to her on the playground so she wasn’t lonely or uncomfortable. Even when she’d hit him, he’d stuck around to make sure she was happy.
There wasn’t a selfish bone in Ryan Grant’s body. Plus, he caught her at a weak moment and she didn’t even have the energy to be angry even if she wanted to.
“These were expensive,” she insisted, stating the obvious.
He shrugged. “I only shelled out the difference in what you had already put down for the others. You paid for most of these, if that makes you feel any better.”
Her eyes drifted over his shoulder to the new mahogany cabinets. Even without the countertop in place, they were stunning and really made her little bungalow’s kitchen look classy.
“They’re perfect,” she told him, bringing her gaze back to meet his. “I’ll never be able to thank you.”
“I didn’t do it for thanks. I did it because I care for you and I want to see you happy.” He studied her face and frowned. “Want to tell me what had you in tears before you came home?”
Piper stepped back, wiping her face again and trying to paste on a convincing smile. “It was nothing.”
Resting his hands on his narrow waist, Ryan cocked his head. “Piper, you can’t lie to me, darlin’. Tell me what happened. Is it Alex?”
“No, no. I talked with Cara last night and he still hasn’t regained his memory.”
“Something happen at work?”
Piper turned toward the cabinet and slid her hand along the smooth door. She moved to the window above where the sink would be installed and stared out at her meager backyard.
“We lost a patient on the way to the hospital,” she told him. “He was around our age. He had a wife and a new baby.”
Piper turned around and leaned back against the edge of the cabinet. “It happened just before my shift ended and I thought I’d come home, soak in the tub and get my cry out of my system. I didn’t know I’d have company.”
Ryan closed the space between them, cupping her cheeks. “I’m not company, Red. If you want to get that cry out, go right ahead. My shoulders are strong. I can handle you.”