He just looked at her, purse held out, the thing looking small and feminine in his big hand.
“Fine.” She snatched it. Someone had broken into her home. Touched her things. And she had no idea why or what they’d been looking for. The truth was that her knees were still knocking and she didn’t want to sleep here alone anyway. “I’ll sleep on your couch.”
“Wherever you want,” he said, and then he drove them through the night, in his zone, quiet. Watchful.
Elle didn’t have a zone, but she could pretend with the best of them. “It was probably Morgan,” she said.
He gave a slow shake of his head. “I called her. It wasn’t.”
She stared at his profile in the dark, slashes of ambient light slanting over his face at every streetlight they passed. “Excuse me,” she said. “You called her? You and my sister are on calling-each-other terms?”
He parked in front of his building and turned to face her. “While you’re still good and pissed off at me, there’s something you should know.”
“Great. What now? No, wait,” she said. “Let me guess. You’ve kept track of my period as well as everything else, and you know I’m a day late.”
He stilled. Blinked once. Not another muscle moved on that big body, not a single one. After a very long beat went by—during which she cursed herself for opening her big, fat mouth—he said with deceptive calm, “You’re late?”
What the hell was wrong with her? She hadn’t meant to say that. Hadn’t meant to say a damn word. She’d only just realized this morning. She was one hundred percent certain it was stress. Or ninety-five percent anyway . . . “Guess you don’t know everything, do you?”
There was a muscle ticking in his jaw now, and he took a moment to visibly compose himself. It was pretty fascinating really, the control he had over his emotions. She considered herself quite the emotion controller but Archer was the master.
He got her inside his place and then, in a move that shouldn’t have charmed her as thoroughly as it did, put on some hot water, presumably for her nightly tea.
Dammit. He knew exactly what she needed, always. Well, almost always. Because right this minute standing in his kitchen, she could’ve used a hug.
He came to her and for a minute she thought he’d read her mind. He pulled off her jacket and set it over the back of a chair. He took her purse and tossed it on top of her jacket. Then he put his hands on her arms, gently stroking up and down as he bent at the knees to look her in the eyes. “Can I ask you to sit without starting a fight?”
She lifted a shoulder. “Asking would be nice.”
She thought, but wasn’t sure, that she saw a very small smile curve his mouth. “Will you please sit?”
With another shoulder lift, she headed back into the living room to the couch and sank into the cushions. It was the most comfy couch she’d ever sat on. It seemed to embrace her and she lay her head back and closed her eyes, suddenly and completely exhausted.
For whatever reason, Archer let her be. She heard him tinkering around in the kitchen and the thought made her smile. Archer tinkering in the kitchen . . . The image that conjured up felt incongruous, the big badass Archer in an apron bent over the stove.
“What are you smiling about?”
Shit, the man moved like smoke. She jerked and opened her eyes to find him crouched in front of her. He set a steaming mug of tea on the coffee table.
“You’re not wearing an apron,” she murmured.
With a frown, he palmed her forehead.
“I’m not sick,” she managed with a low laugh and pushed his hand—the one that felt far too good on her skin—away from her.
He didn’t budge. “Talk to me, Elle.”
She blew out a breath. “I’m not ready to talk to you.” She picked up the remote on the coffee table and aimed it at the biggest TV she’d ever seen.
It came on, the volume up high, the screen flashing through channels so fast it made her dizzy. “I think I just launched a lunar module, but I’m not sure.”
He reached over and turned it off. “You’re exhausted. You need sleep but there’s no sense in trying to go to bed when you’re this pissed off. Let it all out, Elle. You’re . . . late?”
“Only a single day. It’s nothing.”
He didn’t take his eyes off her. “So you’ve been late before?”
“No,” she admitted. Normally she was so regular she could be a calendar. “It’s probably stress.”
His gaze held hers. “But maybe not.”
“I’m on the pill,” she reminded him.
“It’s too early to worry,” she said, “it’s highly unlikely I’m . . .” She couldn’t even say the word.
He put his hand over one of hers and linked their fingers. “Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it.”
We. At that one single word, her throat went tight. Not a you. Or an I. They were a we. They couldn’t get along to save their lives, he was bossy and manipulating and controlling and alpha, and he drove her crazy.
But that we . . . That we definitely staggered her.
“You hear me past that stubborn, beautiful brain of yours, right?” He squeezed her fingers. “You’re not alone in this, Elle.”
She couldn’t speak. She was completely undone.
He gave her a minute. Or hell, maybe he needed a minute too. Finally she found her voice. “I’m not pregnant.”
“You mean you don’t want to be pregnant.”
Archer watched Elle rise to her feet and pace his living room a few times, muttering to herself, something with a lot of pronouns like you and me and we. She was making no sense at all but he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Which was easy enough to do because he was completely thrown for a loop.
She could be pregnant with his baby. He needed to sit down more than a little but instead he locked his legs into place and waited her out.
Finally she turned to him. “What did you mean, we’ll deal with it? You don’t want children any more than I do.”
She stared at him and then turned to continue her pacing. Then suddenly she stopped, standing in the middle of his living room, body language tense, blonde hair pulled back from her face, twisted in some fancy do that made her look like a goddess.