He arched a brow. “High school?”
“Yes, you never know what’s going to be important.”
He looked amused. “As long as I don’t have to wear a headband of dicks, you can have whatever info you need.”
Five extremely long minutes later he’d filled out the required form and provided the information needed after a quick call to his aunt—all apparently without getting his memory jogged. Then, with one last amused look at her reindeer antlers a.k.a. penis headband, he walked out the door.
Willa was still watching him go when Rory came to stand next to her, casually sipping her coffee as she handed over Willa’s.
“Are we looking at his ass?” Rory wanted to know.
Yes, and to Willa’s eternal annoyance, it was the best ass she’d ever seen. How unfair was that? The least he could’ve done was get some pudge. “Absolutely not.”
“Well we’re missing out, because wow.”
Willa looked at her. “He’s too old for you.”
“He’s thirty. What,” she said at Willa’s raised brow. “You’ve got the copy of his driver’s license right here on the counter. I did the math, that’s not a crime. And anyway, you’re right, he’s old. Really old.”
“You do realize I’m only a few years behind him.”
“You’re old too,” Rory said and nudged her shoulder to Willa’s.
The equivalent of a big, fat, mushy hug.
“And for the record,” the girl went on, “I was noticing his ass for you.”
“Ha,” Willa said. “The devil himself couldn’t drag my old, dead corpse out on a date with him, even if he is hot as balls. I gave up men, remember? That’s who I am right now, a woman who doesn’t need a man.”
“Who you are is a stubborn, obstinate woman who has a lot of love to give but is currently imitating a chicken. But hey, if you wanna let your past bad judgment calls rule your world and live like a nun, carry on just as you are.”
“Gee,” Willa said dryly. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. But I reserve the right to question your IQ. I hear you lose IQ points when you get old.” She smiled sweetly. “Maybe you should start taking that Centrum Silver or something. Want me to run out and get some?”
Willa threw the penis headband at her, but Rory, being a youngster and all, successfully ducked in time.
Two mornings later, Willa’s alarm went off at zero dark thirty and she lay there for a minute drifting, dreaming . . . thinking. When Keane had returned for Petunia the other night, she’d been with a client so she hadn’t had to deal with him.
But she’d made sure to look her fill.
And that bothered her. How could she like looking at him so much? Maybe it was because he was so inherently male and virile he could’ve walked right off the cover of Alpha Male magazine, if such a thing had existed.
The thing was, she wasn’t supposed to care what he looked like, or how sexy his low-timbered voice was, or that he was taking care of his aunt’s cat in spite of not liking said cat.
Because hello, ditched for the dance . . .
“Gah,” she said to her bedroom and rolled over, sticking her head beneath her pillow.
She was too busy for a guy. Any guy. She had work and work was enough. She loved having the security of a bank account, when once upon a time she’d had nothing of her own and only herself to rely on.
She was proud of how far she’d come. Proud to be able to help kids who were in the same situation she’d once been in.
When her alarm went off, she jerked awake and groaned some more but rolled out of bed, blinking blearily at the clock.
Four in the morning.
She hated four in the morning as a general rule but today was an early day. She needed to hit the flower market and get some shopping done for an event she had going that night and also for her upcoming in-store Santa Extravaganza pet photo shoot, an annual event where customers would be able to get their pet’s photo taken with Santa. It was a big moneymaker for her, and half of the profits went to the San Francisco animal shelters.
She dragged a grumpy Rory with her, where they bought supplies for the night’s event, the photo booth, and additional foliage to boot.
“What’s all that for?” Rory asked.
“More Christmas flavor.”
Rory shook her head. “You’ve got a serious problem.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
They got back to the shop by six thirty a.m. and went to work. Sitting cross-legged on the counter of her shop with a sketch pad, Willa mapped out the evening’s event, a wedding she’d been hired for as a wedding consultant, designer, and officiator.
For two giant poodles.
At seven on the dot, her friends Pru, Elle, and Haley showed up with breakfast, as they did several times a week since they all lived or worked in the building. Currently they were decimating a basket of Tina’s muffins before scattering for their various jobs for the day. Haley wasn’t yet in her lab coat for her optometrist internship upstairs, and had cute bright red spectacles perched on her nose. Pru wore her captain’s attire for her job of captaining a tour boat off Pier 39. Elle was the building’s office manager and looked the part in a cobalt blue suit dress with black and white gravity-defying open-toe pumps.
Willa looked her part too. Jeans and a camisole top despite the fact that it was winter. She kept her shop warm for the animals and her arms bare for when she was bathing and grooming.
The current discussion was men, and their pros and cons. Pru had a man. She was engaged to Finn, the guy who ran the Irish pub across the courtyard, and a really good guy along with being one of Willa’s closest friends. So needless to say, Pru sat firmly on the pro side. “Look,” she said in her defense of love. “Say you really need some orgasm RX, you know? If you’re in love with someone, he’ll go down on you and expect nothing back because he knows you’d do the same for him. Love is patient, love is kind.” She smiled. “Love means oral sex without the pressure to reciprocate.”
“Love is keeping batteries in your vibrator,” Elle told her and the rest of them laughed, nodding. They all had a long list on the con side for men. Well, except for Haley, who dated women—when she was so inclined to date at all.